The area makes for a great launching pad for exploring different aspects of Southern California, but it boasts many worthy attractions too. Sip local wines while burning calories on Malibu Wine Hikes, or stroll Thousand Oaks’ 33-acre Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, whose collections include Australian plants, a butterfly garden, and salvias—the colorful, drought-friendly sage that thrives in this part of the state. Practice yoga with baby goats at The Cabra Farmhouse in Newbury Park or try the bunny yoga at Thousand Oaks’ Harmony Family Yoga. (After all, “conejo” is Spanish for “rabbit.”)
Nothing sums up this area’s intersection of L.A. and Mother Nature, though, quite like the sprawling Paramount Ranch, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The movie studio first leased this land in 1927, and it has since appeared in countless films and TV series, from The Cisco Kid to HBO’s Westworld. Hike the chaparral- and oak-lined trails, some named after movies or TV shows that were filmed here (like the Medicine Woman Trail, a nod to Dr. Quinn).
To soak up some local history, pay a visit to Thousand Oaks’ Chumash Indian Museum, which celebrates the culture of the people who lived here for centuries before European settlers. Then head to Newbury Park’s Stagecoach Inn Museum, which was a hotel during the late 1800s, a popular stopping point for early road trippers between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Pop culture historians, meanwhile, may want to check out Villa de la Vina, the 10-acre property that is better known as The Bachelor Mansion from the ABC reality shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, which can even be booked for overnight stays.
The area’s lodging and dining options are rich and varied. You’ll find a wide range of value-oriented hotel brands alongside an interesting mix of locavore dining, wines, and craft brews. For dinner, choose from options such as the Wagyu-beef-fueled Asian fusion of Fierce Ave. BBQ; the locally-sourced comfort foods of Boar Dough Kitchen; or an oak-fire-grilled steak from The Old Place Cornell Restaurant, set in a century-old building outside Malibu. Or head to Tomoko Tavern and Ladyface Brewery—offering burgers and Japanese small plates paired with the house-brewed Belgian-, French-, and American-style ales. Don’t miss a sugar stop at the celebrated Sweet Arleen’s, a three-time winner on Cupcake Wars.