On a warm Thursday morning, I drove from Los Angeles to Lake Casitas with my 10-year-old daughter, Isabella. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of camping and fishing. Too many biting mosquitoes and idle hours standing on a muddy shore, she said. But when I told her about the water park, she looked up from her Nintendo DS screen and asked, "How big are the water slides?" I took that as a positive response.
The lake is about a 70-minute drive from Los Angeles, a perfect distance for a quick weekend getaway. Drive along oak-shaded California 33 east of Ventura into the rolling hills near Ojai and then turn west onto California 150 and you'll find the blue-green waters of Lake Casitas. When we pulled up to the entrance, we requested a campsite near the water park. (Camping permits start at $25 per night.) We got a spot in campground C, a short walk from the water park and within earshot of the cacophony on 150.
From Los Angeles, take U.S. 101 north for about 70 miles. Take California 33 east toward Ojai and continue for about 10 miles. Turn left onto California 150 (Baldwin Road), then left again onto Santa Ana Road. The park entrance is on the right. www.lakecasitas.info