Love and Murder in Heritage Valley

By Natalie Compagno – Travel Expert

Contributor’s Website – Traveler’s Bookcase

Love and Murder go hand in hand as they say. Or maybe it’s “All’s fair in love and war”. Either way this Valentine’s Day I decided to take my husband up to Fillmore to ride on the Murder Mystery dinner train. The train goes from Fillmore to Santa Paula and back which if you drive it you think “Wait, the train ride is three hours? We must go farther than this?” But you don’t. And that’s part of the fun. The train ride is slow, food average, entertainment hokey and yet I was laughing the entire time and can’t wait to go back. Heritage Valley is a place lost in time and the hills are so gorgeous I found myself wondering why I hadn’t been there before. Only an hour away, maybe less, it’s a forgotten place, even by the guidebooks, but it should be discovered by everyone who loves rustic beauty and whispers of a bygone era.

The good news is that even though you missed the Valentine’s Day train ride you can still participate in a murder mystery train ride on another date or, even creepier, stay at the Glen Tavern Inn (which is haunted) and go to their Murder Mystery Dinner (next one coming up March 16th). Heritage Valley has more than just kitsch and murder. You can go biking, wine tasting, thrift store shopping and visit a honey farm. So drive up to the forgotten valley and hunt some ghosts!

We checked into the very romantic and also haunted Glen Tavern Inn, craftsman architecture and a historic landmark. They kindly offered us room 307 where a prostitute was beheaded and still floats around as they say. We declined.


The Fillmore & Western Murder Mystery train ride was a “Love Boat” seventies theme and I dressed the part. The actors were great at improving with the guests and even though the crime wasn’t really solvable we sure had fun trying to guess the killer anyway. My nickname was Laurie Partridge.

Stop briefly at Bennett’s Honey Farm to pick up delicious honey in assorted flavors and then grab a glass of wine at Giessinger Winery. The wine is decent, staff friendly and who cares if they have no idea what “A Votre Sante” means even though it’s printed on their brochure. We discovered a scrumptious dessert port wine with chocolate and vanilla flavors to savor on a special occasion.

Save the best for last. After popping tags at the Goodwill store in Santa Paula on Main Street visit Hector at Exotic City. He has records, 8 tracks, tapes, collectible Raiders toys, tricked out lowrider bikes he makes himself and anything else he feels like selling. Although Exotic City is slightly worn out these days, the finds are just as good and Hector is a wealth of information and local history.


Honorable Mention: Rabalais– A New Orleans restaurant in the heart of Santa Paula.

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Contributor’s Website – Traveler’s Bookcase

Image Credits: Natalie Compagno; Rad Collector

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