Family Camping at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground

Family camping travel in the United States is a time-honored tradition, filled with memory-making activities of arguing of the proper way to pitch tents, sometimes fruitless fishing, and boiling the world’s worst coffee over a campfire while early-to-rise children are far more awake and less cantankerous than their exhausted parents. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Obviously, there’s a lot more good than bad in terms of summertime camping (or it wouldn’t be a tradition). One company that’s long ensured that the great memories outweigh the “attack of the million mosquitoes” memories is Kampgrounds of America. KOA has over 475 camping spots in the United States and Canada. Each is unique to its destination, but with a variety of amenities and the most friendly staff (and even food service!) to ensure that whatever level of roughing it your family wants to experience while camping, your KOA vacation will fit the bill. Case in point: family camping at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground in Southern California.

View from Glamping Cabin Deck at Ventura Ranch KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

This was a great view to wake up to at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground.

The first annual “Bloggerfest” was held at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground, and my family and I joined several other bloggers from the Los Angeles area (and one from Berkeley). Hanging out with like-minded travelers for the weekend was fun, of course, but what surprised me was how completely, absolutely terrific the KOA campsite was for my family.

Santa Paula Creek (Jennifer Miner)

Santa Paula Creek, at the base of the campground, is refreshing in the summer.

The Ventura Ranch KOA Campground is in Heritage Valley, an hour and a half drive north of Los Angeles. This makes it close enough for a non-stressful car trip but far enough away to feel like a complete getaway. It’s also one of the Kampgrounds of America that is open all year, due to the famously fabulous Southern California weather. Even when it’s hot (Heritage Valley doesn’t get cooling ocean breezes), it’s not humid. The 76 acre property has nature trails through wilderness and along a creek, but also has open space for all levels of  camping. Strolling the grounds, a guest sees everything from cars parked next to pup tents, to RVs, to permanent tee-pees, and more…seriously. A friend of mine stayed in a “Glamour Tent,” which looks as deluxe as any supplied by a private guided safari tour.

Glamour Tent Interior for Glamping at KOA Campgroup in Ventura County California (Jennifer Miner)

Glamping in a Glamour Tent at Ventura Ranch KOA

Given the choice, my family really roughed it. We stayed in one of the “Glamour Cabins.” Poor us, right? These cabins are incredible. Air conditioning, television, full kitchen, queen bed and loft with additional sleeping space…This is glamping in its finest form.

Ventura Ranch KOA Glamour Cabin (Jennifer Miner).jpg

This is how we camp. Glamping at Ventura Ranch KOA

There’s no way anyone could ever call this sleeping situation “camping,” but the rustic appeal of the cabin in the woods is strong. The design of the Glamour Cabins fits in perfectly with the aesthetic of a camping experience without the grit or cold, damp sleeping arrangements. Besides, we spent very little time in our cabin: there was too much to do on the campground property.

Fun Family Activities while Camping in California (Jennifer Miner)

Camping weekend at Ventura Ranch includes impassioned tetherball matches

A centralized, but spread out playground of sorts brings camping families together; my kids made a beeline for the tetherball, while other children tried the peddle carts, climbing wall and the huge Jumping Pillow (think bouncy house without the roof, but with water). There is a very popular 800 foot long Dual Line Zip Line, which is going to be increased in length next summer, and an area set aside for the pool, which should also be constructed and completed over the winter.

Zip Lining Outdoor Fun at Ventura Ranch KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

Dual zip lines means I could take this photo while zipping through the air myself. Respect!

camping weekend filled with outdoor fun in Southern California KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

What fun! And I didn't drop my camera midway through -- another accomplishment.

A day of hiking and exploring and running around and playing and splashing in Santa Paula Creek’s watering hole is plain, pure outdoors fun for everyone. I’d have thought all the children would be exhausted by nightfall, but the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground staff also has child-friendly nighttime hikes. The kids all rallied for this after some time spend engaged in that all-American camping classic, roasting marshmallows and making new friends by the fireside.

Roasting Marshmallows at Ventura Ranch KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

Camping at night must involve roasting marshmallows and laughing with new friends. I think it's a law.

Fun Haunted Hike During Weekend Camping Trip at Ventura Ranch KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

The "Haunted Hike" had some surprises I won't ruin here; it was a fun walk.

There are plenty of loosely organized children’s activities at the campground on the weekends, such as horse shoes, craft making and tee shirt tie dying.  But just relaxing and watching the wildlife is a great way to spend a camping weekend in Southern California too.

Rabbits During Weekend Camping Trip in Southern California KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

Wascally wabbits.

Speaking of wildlife, we saw lots of the usual suspects; frogs and tadpoles in the creek, rabbits and hawks eying each other, an owl at dusk. But it was the peacocks that really captured my kids’ attention; we first heard their distinctive cry (well, scream) during the walk between our car and the registration desk. These peacocks are all over the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground, and weren’t brought in for the pleasure of the guests. They are descendants of peacocks that actually predate the campsite, having been traded to the indigenous Chumash over a century ago. What they were traded for is lost to time, but today, it’s pretty clear that KOA campground is the end-game winner in this transaction; what a delight to wake up in the camp and see peacocks roosting nearby.

Peacock Pair on Glamour Cabin Deck at KOA Campground (Jennifer Miner)

This pair of peacocks know where it's at; hanging out on a Glamour Cabin deck.

Ventura Ranch KOA Campground is undergoing a few upgrades right now, such as the aforementioned zip line extension and pool plans. These are temporary and minor inconveniences. What’s permanent, however, is the memory of an alternately peaceful and exciting weekend of camping to be had at this KOA Campground in Southern California. It’s an easy getaway from Los Angeles, and for those wary of roughing it, it’s also glamping at its best. My family is already looking forward to a return visit.

Thank you, Kampgrounds of America, for hosting my family on this weekend camping – er, glamping – trip at Ventura Ranch KOA.

24 Comments on "Family Camping at the Ventura Ranch KOA Campground"

  1. ok – i don’t like camping but i sure like that cabin! and anywhere that has wascally wabbits? count me in!

  2. As a born-and-raised tent camper, you most certainly did not go camping. That being said, I wanna stay here!!

  3. Though not as luxe (oh, you SoCal gals!) I was pleasantly surprised by our cabin stay at the Redmond OR KOA as well. A great camping hybrid!

  4. So you think you can mom? | June 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply

    My kids would LOVE this place!!!! Gotta look into it!

  5. How pretty! I’m not outdoorsy but this would be my kind of camping!

  6. Looks like fun, but in Minnesota we would call that a resort, not a campground. Not that I’d mind that setup one bit…

  7. I can’t wait to take my kids camping!

  8. Caribbean Islands Map | June 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Reply

    What a nice place to stay, i like this type of camping. Good article !!!

  9. What an absolutely amazing place! I have totally got to check that out. I can’t believe I didn’t know it was so close to me.

  10. KOA Glamping? You’ve changed my mind about KOA camping. Must try this.

  11. Wow, what a nice shots !!! 🙂

  12. Oh, what a nice nature is there, great shots !!! 🙂

  13. Ooh ! Looks like so much fun….ziplining too? Awesome! We love to camp but I’d totally love to go glamping!

  14. jesse @ | June 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Reply

    Great post !

    That’s the kind of roughin’ it that I like to do….even without a family :^)

  15. Absolutely beautiful! I’ve always wanted to GLAMP 🙂

  16. This place looks amazing. I’m all about the glamping. This is one more place to add to my list of “must-do” places to go.

  17. I’ve been camping with my family since I was a kid, and love it. I find as I get older glamping is becoming more of my thing….. this ventura camp site may be my new place to find my family. 🙂 Looks fab.

  18. Boston Activities | June 15, 2012 at 5:23 am | Reply

    The place is got for the camping, but the sad thing is that pets are not allowed especially dogs, I cancel go there last time just becomes of my marcus, I can’t leave him alone at time. Apart this, the resort is actually good in order if some one is looking to avoid the busy city life and relax near by.

    • You must be thinking of some other campground, as dogs are completely welcome at this one. We saw lots and lots of well-behaved dogs of all sizes there.

  19. I thought I had retired from camping, but maybe not after seeing this!!

  20. Gridlockmanifesto | August 11, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply

    Hahah! I don’t know the meaning of “non-stressful car trip” as we always drive a long distance for our vacation each year. This year we traveled to California, and I wish that I would have researched KOA campgrounds before we went. This campground looks nice to say the least.

  21. michelleclark12313 | September 26, 2012 at 2:49 am | Reply

    Great Places. all the pictures looks very natural and amazing.Go for the camping trip is very Wonderful .


  22. New York Hotel | October 20, 2012 at 12:21 am | Reply

    I am always traveling with my family and Here all photos looking so nice. I really very impressed by read it. I enjoy your family camping.

  23. Sheldon Paulsen | September 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Reply

    KOA campgrounds all seem like great family vacation ways.

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