A walk through the Leonis Adobe Museum and its grounds in Calabasas will give you a more invigorating, hands-on, and authentic taste of the San Fernando Valley’s ranching past than anywhere else in the 818. Here, nestled on roughly half an acre just south of the 101 Freeway, are a preserved adobe built circa 1844 and an active farm in miniature with livestock, a vegetable garden, and a small vineyard. Among the accoutrements of ranch life are a water tank bunkhouse, antique wagons, and a windmill with a working well pump.
The farm animals steal the show. Merino sheep, goats, and a pair of humongous Percheron horses idle about. You’ll also meet Texas longhorn cattle, including a pair named Ginger Rogers and Fred “a Steer.” A wooden barn currently holds about a dozen newborn lambs. Nearby is the most colorful, exotic chicken coop ever, bustling with ornately feathered fowl of various breeds.
At the center of it all stands the Leonis Adobe, a two-story ranch house where French Basque immigrant Miguel Leonis—the “king of Calabasas”—lived with his Chumash Indian wife, Espiritu, from the mid-1800s until his death in 1889. The wealthy rancher controlled a vast swath of the western Valley with the help of a large posse of vaqueros. Friendly docents are on hand to recount anecdotes and give tours.
To stretch your legs a bit more, head a hundred yards east to Calabasas Creek Park, where the Leonis Adobe Association has reconstructed a Chumash village.
EAT LOCAL: Sagebrush Cantina, a popular bar and grill right next door, serves traditional Mexican fare on a large patio. On Saturdays, the Calabasas Farmers Market is directly across the street from the adobe from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
From the 405, take the 101 Freeway to Valley Circle Blvd. Turn left onto Valley Circle, then a slight right on Calabasas Rd. Parking for the Leonis Adobe Museum is on the right shortly after. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Suggested donation of $5. No dogs.