Tortoises and roses

Ventura County backroads lead to May flowers and Zoo U

Fresh produce

Fresh produce at Petersen Ranch Fruit Stand

David Zaitz

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You're longing for a quiet country drive. You'll find a great one around the Ventura County towns of Moorpark, Somis, and Fillmore. Here, backroads lead to lemon groves, specialty nurseries, and more.

One surprise lies off the Collins Drive exit from State 118. America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College (11-5 Sat-Sun; $5; 7075 Campus Rd., Moorpark; 805/378-1441) is a one-of-a-kind school for future animal trainers. Take in a student-run animal show (on the hour 12-3 Sat-Sun); you can get satisfyingly close to the big cats, giant tortoise, and other animals.

Near the intersection of Los Angeles Avenue and Somis Road (State 34), Underwood Family Farms (5696 E. Los Angeles Ave., Somis; 805/386-4660) offers produce from the farm's 70 acres of fields. About 1 mile west, near Bradley Road, buy nuts in every form at Somis Nut House (4475 Los Angeles Ave., Somis; 800/266-6887). In another mile, you can grab more fresh fruits and vegetables at Petersen Ranch Fruit Stand (3402 E. Los Angeles Ave., Somis; 805/386-8190).



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