Take a family field trip to these popular family communities for history, ranch fun, and a great ride or two.
by Erin Mahoney Harris
Just a half-hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita has in recent years become a popular place for young families to settle down, and with good reason. Boasting beautiful natural surroundings, excellent schools and all the comforts and conveniences of the city, the greater Santa Clarita area that includes the communities of Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Saugus, Newhall and Canyon Country offers an enticing blend of rural and suburban – and even the thrills of Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Old Town Newhall(www.otna.org) is in the midst of a rebirth. The town was founded in 1878 to serve the railroad being built (now the site of a Metrolink station), and is being reinvented as a charming destination for families, with playhouses, art centers, restaurants and museums.
There’s much to discover at William S. Hart Park and Museum (24151 Newhall Ave.; 661-259-0855; www.hartmuseum.org). The grounds are home to a petting zoo, a herd of bison, a historic ranch house, hiking trails, and the museum itself, which is housed in the beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival mansion where silent cowboy film star William S. Hart lived.
Next door to Hart Park is Heritage Junction (24101 Newhall Ave.; 661-254-1275; www.scvhs.org), where kids can see historic buildings such as the Saugus Train Station, Mitchell Schoolhouse Adobe and Ramona Chapel, saved from demolition by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society as evidence of what life was like in the Old West. The site is also home to Engine 1629, a train engine dating back to 1900 that was bought by Western actor Gene Autry, who later donated it to the historical society.
Family-owned Lombardi Ranch (29527 Bouquet Canyon Rd.; 661-296-8697; www.lombardiranch.com) in Saugus has been selling pumpkins since 1968. The working ranch and farm is open from late summer to mid-November, hosting school field trips and selling fresh produce.
Six Flags Magic Mountain (26101 Magic Mountain Parkway; 661-255-4100; www.sixflags.com/MagicMountain) may be home to some of the most nerve-rattling rollercoasters in SoCal, but it’s not just for thrill seekers. Younger kids (and queasy parents) can enjoy tamer rides in Bugs Bunny World and Whistlestop Park, which offer plenty of entertaining options for the under-42-inches crowd. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park is located right next door and is a must-visit during the hot summer months.