Santa Paula Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Santa Paula

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    California Oil Museum

    by Tugboatguy Updated Jul 14, 2007

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    Some of the Historic Gasoline Dispensing Pumps
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    This historic building of fine architecture dating to 1890 was the original headquarters of the Union Oil Company. Building cost of construction was just $37,000. This is California Historical Landmark #996 & Ventura County Historical Landmark #36. Oil was first discovered in California near the present day Santa Paula by Chumash Indians in a crude oil seep from the side of a hill on the present highway 150 leading north & west from 10th Street north to Ojai. That site is marked on a roadway turnoff.

    Permanent exhibits of the California Oil Museum, a National Register Historic Site:

    California & the Age of Petroleum
    The 1900 Cable-Tool Drilling Rig
    The Lundgren & the Bennett Gas Pump Collections
    Great California Gas Brands
    The 1890s Office & the 1930s Apartment

    The California Oil Museum has many historic artifacts as well as a large collection of gasoline pumps & in the Pump House in back, a large early oil drilling rig. The upstairs of the museum requires a guided tour to see. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Closed major holidays. The Museum Store has things of interest for sale. Admission: Adults-$4, $3 Seniors, $1 Children, Children 5 and under free.

    Special exhibits change & are worthwhile. See my next tip for the current special exhibit.

    Park at rear of building.

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    Aviation Museum of Santa Paula

    by Tugboatguy Updated Dec 2, 2009

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    1947 Societe et Renard Stampe S.V.4C Biplane
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    A non-profit corporation established at the Santa Paula Airport to preserve the history of the airport and its collection of old, rare, antique & classic aircraft and countless other aviation memorabilia. Consists at present of 9 museum hangers & under construction a WWII hanger. The Airport Museum holds free open house the first Sunday of every month, weather permitting, from 10 am to 3 pm. There is a new museum Hangar "Home" with printed guides to the hangers. Shuttle service via quiet electric carts is provided between the hangers or you are free to walk about, staying behind the barrier lines away from the taxi ramp for safety. About 50 more aircraft are shown in my Albums & Travelogues.

    The marked Hanger No. 1 has seating for a continuous short film of the history of the airport and you are given a repro copy of the 1930 Santa Paula Newspaper announcing the dedication of the airport. The other hangers are fascinating and all are worth your visit. The same days the EAA Chapter at the airport gives free youth airplane rides under the nationwide Young Eagles Program. See my new Transportation Tip for that. Many flyins are scheduled these open house days as well as displays by car clubs and other groups. An old farm tractor display one Sunday caught my eye. Sometimes a miniature train on tracks is set up for free kiddie rides.

    The museum hangar store has fund raising sales of aviation related clothing and merchandise to provide continuing funding for the museum. I am shamelessly pushing you to buy the Aviation Museum Cookbook, which has a lot of airport humor with many excellent recipes including four of Tugboatguy's recipes. The Cookbook also contains excerpts from two very old cookbooks dated 1890 and 1907, which will provide you with quaintly interesting reading, including 'How to Preserve a Husband'! lol!

    Please see my Home Page aviation albums for more information and pictures, also the three new Aviation Travelogues for Santa Paula.

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    • Museum Visits

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    A Radio Museum Within a Museum

    by Tugboatguy Updated Jan 10, 2006

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    Dale &  RCA Victor Mascot Dog 'Nipper'
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    In the Donalson Aviation Museum hanger at the Santa Paula Airport the entire second floor is devoted to a Radio Museum, with hundreds of radios from the earliest days. Dale Donalson has assembled an incredible collection of phonographs, console models, the RCA Victor 'His Master's Voice' Victrola, the original Crosley Bluebird Art Deco radio, early shortwave radios, early televisions, small bakelite plastic radios, Zenith Transoceanic radios, clock radios, the earliest portable radios, and an amazing collection of novelty radios throughout history that may bemuse, befuddle or astound you! There are so many radios here you may find an identical one or two from your own past!

    Dale tirelessly gives the history of these radios by time and functional groups in his guided tour around his museum and has some interesting anecdotes of radio trivia. You can also take a unguided tour if you wish. Dale stands ready to answer any questions and can supply the most detailed trivia about most any radio-related object in the large room that may catch your eye. Old radio magazines of the period are nostalgic to any old radio lover.

    The museum hanger is open for the radio exhibit when the Aviation Museum is open each first Sunday of the month from 10 am to 3 pm, weather permitting. Admission entirely free. Budget some extra time for this museum, for it is compellingly fascinating. I can't count the number of times I have been in the Radio Museum. Radio was a hobby in my youth and I built and repaired radios and early TVs for a time in my late teens.

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    "Harvey" at the SPTC

    by Tugboatguy Updated Dec 2, 2009

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    Santa Paula Theater Center in the Ebell Mansion
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    Updated: The current play of the 2009 season is "Harvey", a favorite for decades; performances now through December 20, 2009.

    The Santa Paula Theater Center presents the ever popular comedy "Harvey" by Mary Chase, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama , making its Broadway debut in 1944. "Harvey" was also made into a motion picture starring James Stewart as the lead, Elwood P. Dowd, in 1950.

    This always popular and timeless play tells the story of a man whose best friend is an invisible 6-foot-tall rabbit. A fun diversion in the hectic Holiday season, Elwood P. Dowd is charmingly played by John Reinhart. his sister Veta by Jill Dolan, with mischievous niece Myrtle Mae by Allison Williams. Local veteran Ron Rezac plays Doctor Chumley with his usual commanding verve. Jennifer Ridgeway and Peter Krause are two sanitarium colleagues and first acting part by Tim Viramontes shows promise with an over the top effort as Orderly Wilson. The play is ably directed by Andrea Tate, who delivers a moving and wacky social commentary with comedic poise from the cast's players.

    Note that individual play admission prices have stayed the same for the 2009 season.


    Stage times are: 8 pm Fridays & Saturdays, and 2 pm Sundays through December 20, 2009. $18 adults, $15 seniors and students, and $12 for children 12 and under. Reservations, more information and tickets: call Box Office.

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    The Santa Paula Theater Center

    by Tugboatguy Updated Nov 27, 2009

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    The Santa Paula Theater Center
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    The Santa Paula Theater Center playhouse is housed in an imposing old large mansion just one block west on Main Street from the Cape Cod Model Boat Museum. Known as The Ebell Club of Santa Paula in 1913, the mansion is Ventura County Historical Landmark No. 70. Set back on the southeast corner of 7th Street and Main behind a large grassy city park, the playhouse includes a pub and outdoor area suitable for use during intermissions.

    Five plays are to be offered in 2009. the theater's 23nd season. Contact the theater for information and tickets. Adults: $18, Students and Seniors 55+: $15, Children 12 and under: $12 admission. Prices are unchanged from the 2008 season. The late Hollywood movie actor, Dana Elcar, a co-founder of the Santa Paula Theater Center, was the theater's Artistic Director before his death in June, 2005. The plays are very professional, enjoyable and a good time is assured.

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    Crude Oil Production Rigs

    by Tugboatguy Updated Apr 29, 2008

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    Pumping Crude Oil Next to Orange Grove
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    In the hills and mountain sides of South Mountain south of Santa Paula and Sulphur Mountain north and west of Santa Paula are numerous working oil fields whose apparatus can be seen on the skylines. I find these rigs fascinating because there are working oil and gas fields only a few miles from my home at the coast. Along South Mountain Road near Santa Paula there are several accessible views of oil rigs working adjacent to orange groves and lemon orchards. Just across the road from the two golf courses described in other tips are working oil rigs. With the price of a 55 gallon barrel of crude oil at over $118 (April-2008 update from $68), and the most recent crude oil refinery built in America was way back in 1976, oil should get everyone's attention. Come to Santa Paula to see where some of the 'Black Gold' comes from.

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    Hero's In the Night!

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 12, 2004

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    March 12, 1928, the 12-billion-gallon St. Francis Dam failed sending a torrent of water at 18mph killing more than 450 lives and 1,200 homes and everything it carried to it's doom to the ocean.

    Yet, shortly before 1:30am a message did get through to some, but most importantly, to two motorcycle officers who gallantly went door to door through the street warning all they could of the torrent of flood water heading their way. It was because of these two wonderful souls that so many did live and survive. "I" and "we" salute such human beings who took a the risk to save so many.

    Sculpted by Eric J. Richards 2003

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    Union Oil Pump House

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 12, 2004

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    Don't forget to go to the back of the building outside in a another building because you will miss an authentic oil drill and some really cool displays of gas pumps.

    As with most little Califonia towns can owe their thanks to two things. Black Gold and the Rail Road. Progress seems to stem from either of these things.

    Union Oil Company Building was established in Santa Paul in 1890 by oil pioneers Thomas Bard, Lyman Stewart, and Wallace Hardison. It's cost to build such a structure was $38,000. It has some really wonderful displays of how "Black Gold" has contributed to state's progress. Lots of other kinds of traveling exhibits on display here too! They give a really nice tour of the upstairs that details the beginnings of this building and Santa Paula. Their is also wonder display of Lundgren and Bennett Collections of gas station memorabilia and one of largest displays of vintage gas pumps in California.

    Adults $4
    Seniors $3
    Youth (6-17) $1
    Kids 0-5) Free
    Tour Groups (20+) $3 each
    Guided Tours $1 per person

    Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM - 4PM
    At other times by arrangement

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    Beautiful Old Homes

    by Tugboatguy Updated Nov 1, 2006

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    Railroad Avenue and Mill Street
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    Santa Paula has many old, stately, well kept turn of the century Victorian homes and excellent examples of the Craftsman period after WW1 and into the 1920s and early 1930s. There are also large old and interesting ranch homes along Foothill Road and Telegraph Road west of town. The old home neighborhoods are enhanced by very large, mature trees providing shady streets and a beautiful ambience for walking tours or drivebys. Eight more of these old homes of interest including of some Queen Anne architecture are shown in one of my Santa Paula Travelogues. Please see my newly updated Santa Paula travelogues on 'Victorian Ladies-California Craftsmen for more beautiful old architectural examples..

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    Union Oil Building - 1890

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    As with most little Califonia towns can owe their thanks to two things. Black Gold and the Rail Road. Progress seems to stem from either of these things.

    Union Oil Company Building was established in Santa Paul in 1890 by oil pioneers Thomas Bard, Lyman Stewart, and Wallace Hardison. It's cost to build such a structure was $38,000. It has some really wonderful displays of how "Black Gold" has contributed to state's progress. Lots of other kinds of traveling exhibits on display here too! They give a really nice tour of the upstairs that details the beginnings of this building and Santa Paula. Their is also wonder display of Lundgren and Bennett Collections of gas station memorabilia and one of largest displays of vintage gas pumps in California.

    UNION OIL COMPANY BUILDING Historical Marker NO. 996

    Adults $4
    Seniors $3
    Youth (6-17) $1
    Kids 0-5) Free
    Tour Groups (20+) $3 each
    Guided Tours $1 per person

    Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM - 4PM
    At other times by arrangement

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    • Historical Travel

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    Santa Paula Airport

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 12, 2004

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    Back in 1928 after the dam disaster. Two visionaries Ralph Dickenson and Dan Emmett knew the area would benefit from having an airport to bring prosperity back to Santa Paula. They soon went on a campaign and gathered donations from may local ranchers. Building began on the airport from their own knowledge and skill. This wonderful airport opened in 1930 and is still going strong today.

    Every 1st Sunday of the month weather permitting, many aviators open their doors to display there aircraft new or antique. Many have some wonderfully decorated hangers with aviation artifacts for all to enjoy.

    10 a.m.to 3 p.m.

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    Santa Paula Train Depot

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    September 1, 1887 - Santa Paula Branch of SP railroad was completed. Now is serves a shortline track from Fillmore and houses the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce.

    Southern Pacific Railroad Depot Ventura County Landmark No. 23

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    The Little Red School House

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Santa Clara School house was built in 1896 at the cost of $2,635 to house 35 studentsof different ages from all over the local area. The first teacher was Miss Martha Seaward who was payed a whopping $60 a month. It is still to this day a working school house. They give a tour, but it is by appointments only.

    Little Red 1896 School House Ventura County Historical Landmark No.9

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    Historical Downtown - 1873

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    What is so wonderful about a lot of little towns is there is usually always a Main St. and Santa Paula is no different. Lots of wonderful little shops here to stroll around and look. Some nice benches to relax on and enjoy the sunny weather here:-)

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    Morenton Bay Fig Tree

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Planted in July 4 in 1879 and is considered a Ventura County Historical Landmark #79.
    Me and the hubby was so impressed by it's size because we have never seen a "Fig" so huge.

    Morenton Bay Fig Tree Ventura County Landmark No. 79

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