I grew up camping with my family and have the best memories from it! We would go at least two times a year for a week at a time with aunts, uncles, cousins and sometimes grandparents. Entering my adult stage and all the schooling that ensued, my husband and I only had the opportunity to go a handful of times.Since our daughter was born nearly five years ago we’ve only gone one time! I miss it and pine for the days when we can get back into a vacation routine that includes camping. One of the biggest deterrents at this point in our lives to “enjoying the great outdoors” is our inability to take long weekends away from work and subsequently pack, pitch a tent only to take it down two days later, then unpack (our late Fridays home from work to Sunday schedule make it more stress than relaxation!). I thought until recently our affordable options were limited to hotels. However, after touring the grounds at the Ventura Ranch KOA and seeing the many types of sites available, I’ve been rethinking our summer family vacation plans to include the many alternative arrangements offered there!
My family was recently invited to a new KOA campground near Ventura for an overnight bloggers event. Now, this is the way to camp with little ones! I’d previously heard of the phrase “Glamping”– a hybrid of camping with a bit of glamour, or at the very least some essentials already taken care of for you by the time you arrive. We stayed in their Deluxe Cabin, but I also checked out their Glamour tent and a Tee Pee (if your style is more tent or RV camping, they have ample accommodation for that, too!). I think walking into in a place where my tent is already pitched, a heater for cold nights and a queen bed is the perfect solution to get our family back to nature at a reasonable cost while minimizing the hassle of taking a lot of gear. All we needed to do once we arrived was unpack and put up the Pack N’ Play that we brought. One thing I wish I had brough was a safety gate. The steps up to the loft in the Cabin were steep and quickly caught the eye of my two-year-old.
The Deluxe Cabin was amazing! It’s a perfect little house in the woods with a full kitchen (refrigerator, microwave, stove, oven, but no dishwasher). It sleeps six (one queen bed, one sofa bed and two mats in the loft. We brought our own Pack N’ Play and it fit up in the large loft. There was roughly a foot of space left between the top of the Pack N’ Play and the ceiling. Kieran and Brendan loved their little play/sleep space above the living area!
They have several family-friendly activities at the campground. Getting outdoors ensures active time with your family and will hopefully foster a love of exercise at an early age. Ventura Ranch KOA makes it even easier with several preplanned activities offered daily. We tested out the rock wall (I made it all the way to the top…yaay!), pillow jumping, peddle cars, giant tic-tac-toe, pirate ship and the zip line. Kieran’s favorite? The zip line, of course!
A short walk from the activity area was a creek and “Bigfoot’s Watering Hole”. The property offered several opportunities for wildlife sightings. While Bigfoot eluded us-we did see peacocks, tadpoles and frogs during our two-day stay. A must-attend guided hike is the “Haunted Hike” (recommended for ages 5 and up). I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s a “scream”.
Other bloggers were present and KOA provided us with dinner and breakfast (although our cabin was equipped enough we easily could have made our own!) I have to make a special note on breakfast. The Chili Hut of Santa Paula, CA served up the BEST pancakes….EVER. This is not an overstatement—perfectly fluffly inside and slightly crispy outside. My husband and I have been on a quest for years to find the perfect pancake. If you are visiting near this area, The Chili Hut serves up the best pancakes in Southern California and it will be well worth a stop.
I also met with Ventura Ranch KOA owner Scott Cory and asked him about additional hiking opportunities on the 76 acre property. Having a 2 and almost 5-year-old, I was most interested in short (15-20 minute round trip), somewhat level hikes that my family could go on together. The property offers many trails and a map is in the works! They are also building a large pool in the activity area and it may be open as early as the end of the summer. Scott is continuously trying to improve this newer KOA property and I look forward to all the changes ahead!
Visit IT: The Ventura Ranch KOA is located in Santa Paula, CA. For more information on that location and nearly 500 other KOA’s across the country, check out their website. Tent sites during peak season start at $39. Tee Pee sites start at $79/night and Glamour Tents and Cabins go up from there. If you desire a fur rug, bedding, decorations, stuffed animals and more, you can “Glamorize” your accommodations for an additional $40/night.
* We did not receive monetary compensation for this review. That’s IT Mommy received one night’s stay at Ventura Ranch KOA and a gift basket from KOA and their PR firm free of charge to facilitate this review. This will in no way sway our opinion of the product or service. The review is in our own words and is our opinion. Your results and opinions may differ.