On our Spring Break we drove down to Southern California, and last time I told you about how our travel plans changed. On our way we stayed in Pismo Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway, and after that we spent Easter at Rancho Cucamonga. From there we headed down to the Santa Monica Mountains where we planned to do some hiking and check out a few places. On our way there we stopped to buy some snacks and some coffee.
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS RECREATIONAL AREA
The Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area is a huge area on the coast of California which belongs to the National Parks. I wrote about visiting the national parks last week. You can only see a small part of it in one day, and like many others, we too visited the most popular part of it: The Paramount Ranch. The recreational area consists of many different parks and protected areas with some beautiful nature. But I have wanted to visit the Paramount Ranch for a long time.
We started our visit from the visitor center which is located in Calabasas. Calabasas might be familiar to you from television and its famous residents. The Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center was built on King C. Gillette Ranch, and the building is actually an old barn. The barn was built in 1928. And yes, it really is THE Gillette whose razors we still use all over the world. From this ranch you can go hiking, enjoy the sun, or just spot different kinds of animals. We stayed at the visitor center for a while to see their exhibits, walked around outside and then headed to the Paramount Ranch. We got some brochures, maps and a stamp for my national park stamp book and a Junior Ranger activity book for our daughter.
From the Visitor Center, we drove over to the Paramount Ranch which unfortunately was the only place in the Santa Monica Mountains that we had time to see. In 1927 Paramount Pictures bought the farm for filming their movies. They built different kinds of movie sets depending on what they where filming, and usually, it was a Western. People like Cary Grant, John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich have worked there. The ranch was later sold, but they started filming movies there again after William Hertz acquired the property.
The Paramount Ranch changed it's owners multiple times before it was added to the recreational area. Even today you might run into a filming crew there. Next time you visit, everything might look different since they might be filming something totally different. So many movies have been filmed there, for example Sandra Bullock's The Lake House, Paleface, Wells Fargo, The Flinstones: Viva Rock Vegas, The Girl Next Door, American Sniper and Scream. Also episodes for some television shows like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, MacGyver, Charlie’s Angels and The X-Files. One of the last notable television series filmed at the Paramount Ranch was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
It is quite a fun place to visit and walk around. We also wandered off from the actual filming area and there seemed to be many nice looking trails around the ranch. We even saw multiple horse back riding groups. Even though the actual Visitor Center is at King C. Gillette Ranch, there is a small ranger station at the Paramount Ranch where you can get some maps or use the restrooms. And the best part is, everything is free of charge!