Living in Los Angeles, we have easy, instant access to the best the cosmopolitan world has to offer; the LA Phil, Walt Disney Concert Hall, posh shopping and a fantastic dining scene. We also have the beaches and some pretty awesome hiking trails in state parks (presuming they stay open, thank you California budget cuts). One thing this sorta-kinda outdoorsy travel writer hasn’t seen, though, is a quick drive to awesome, family-friendly campgrounds with the high-end touch. Me missing that was, clearly, entirely my fault: It took me exactly an hour and thirty-two minutes to get from my house to the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground, in northern Ventura County near Ojai, California.
My family and I were invited to be part of the inaugural “Bloggerfest” at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground, and it was enormously fun. California’s such a huge state, bigger than many entire countries, that the geography can change with an hour’s drive in almost any direction. We felt like we were in a completely different part of the county, and it was, again, a ridiculously easy drive. The other attending bloggers, most from Los Angeles or thereabouts, and I couldn’t stop raving about how fun the experience was for our families.
There’s a centralized playground area and a zip line. There are plans in progress for a pool as feel — the site has ben set, and it’s planed to be saline rather than chlorine. This is in keeping with the greening of KOA campgrounds nationwide.
There’s a creek that runs along the bottom of the campground, and we saw tadpoles wiggling around. This is also set up to be a swimming hole, and a pretty flat nature walk.
The best thing about this particular KOA Campground, in my mind, is the wide array of lodging options. Plenty of room for RVs to park and hook up, and an area for rugged campers to stake a pup tent. The Kampgrounds of America site also has permanent teepees and “glamour tents.” I’m not kidding about the glamour, by the way; the interior of these look like luxury private guided safari tour digs.
But my family opted for the swankiest option – one of the Glamour Cabins. We loved, loved, loved it. The glamour cabins are as fully functional as any permanent residence: air conditioning, indoor plumbing, full kitchen, a queen bed and a loft that sleeps two (my daughters slept up there). the sofa converts to a bed, so a glamour cabin comfortably sleeps six campers. Although, “campers” is a bit of a stretch of the term in a Glamour Cabin. The rustic appeal of a night in a cabin cannot be underestimated, however, and we were disappointed to leave the next day.
We took the Pacific Coast Highway to the 101 North to get from Los Angeles to the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground. This scenic route means views of the Pacific Ocean up through Malibu, but taking the 5 freeway is more direct. If an hour and a half drive is still too long for you, take the less scenic route and save time on the road.
The next time you’re wondering what to do with your weekend, consider getting away to this excellent KOA Campground. Ventura County is close, camping is fun, and it’s such a completey different experience than the regular Los Angeles weekend, you’ll surely want to return. I know my family does. My kids are already asking when we’re going to go back to the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground.