Pinos with 9, feet high peaks, it is the land of abundance, great natural beauty and a relaxed Southern California beach city vibe. Best things to do in Ventura, CAinclude the lively art scene, downtown galleries and museums, the views from the Ventura Botanical Gardenssitting on the beach and watching the world go by. CDC information for travelers. Today, the Ventura Pier is a tourist attraction, a favorite spot for fishing, and the best spot for admiring the sunset, ocean, coastline, and the Channel Islands. The ageing pier has been renovated many times, and its current length of 1, feet is about feet shorter than the original.
Where is Ventura County?
And what are the best things to do in Ventura County California? We knew nothing about Ventura County before our Southern California road trip last month, not even where it was located. I had only ever heard of Ventura Boulevard in a few song lyrics and that thoroughfare is in LA. We stopped here for three days to enjoy the coastal living, and one of the main tourist attractions in Ventura, the Channel Islands National Park.
Keep reading down below for all our best tips on Ventura, and then for even more tips on the Central Coast of California check out the most instagramable town in California. Ventura Harbor Village is located on a small strip of land in the middle of the beach and the harbor. The beach, Surfers knoll, has a popular surf break at the Santa Clara River Mouth, and the harbor is one of the largest harbors in North America for offloading squid.
It is a working harbor and fishing marina which also has shops, galleries, restaurants and waterfront activities. Just wandering around this harbor will elevate your happiness with the bougainvillea laden paths, the brilliant blue water filled with sailing ships, and the stunning Topatopa mountains in the background. But, we could not resist the lure of sea lions resting on the wharves and swimming in the waters. Thankfully, these pedal boats were really easy to peddle!
17 amazing things to do in ventura county california with kids
We had a fun half hour adventure peddling between the young children sailing and the sea lions resting on the wharves. You can rent the pedal boats from Ventura Boat Rentals.
They also offer harbor tours, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, electric boats and jet skis! Aim for a table on the enclosed patio. We went for some local pan blackened Cajun sea bass and Mahi Mahi with a mango and papaya relish. A steamed mussels in broth starter was the perfect accompaniment to the stunning views. Those mountains!!
Friday nights are the popular time for locals to come sit at the full length bar facing the marina to eat oysters and enjoy happy hour drink prices. reviews on TripAdvisor. We ate a lot of ice cream on our Southern California Road trip. No wonder the girls loved the Kidifornia adventure so much. A definite highlight of our family road trip to Ventura California was our day trip to the Channel Islands National Parkwhich is about an 80 minute ferry ride from Ventura Harbor. You can visit any of the islands by boat with Island Packersby plane with Channel Islands Aviation, or your own private boat.
The boat trip over is just as spectacular as the Channel Islands.
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We spent close to three hours paddling through the various sea caves such as Elephant Belly, In and Out, and the Painted Cave. We learned a lot about the islands, saw plenty of nesting birds and even had a sea lion pop up next to us out of the kelp forest.
Speaking of which, we snorkeled through the kelp forest once we finished our kayaking tour. It was a special experience which warranted an entire post on our site on its own. One of my earliest travel memories was back when I was about eight on a family vacation by the beach. In the hotel there was a small games room that had Pac Man. My brother and sister and I spent hours each day playing and competing against our new Indian friends.
It was incredible how much we bonded over that game. We were so sad when we had to leave each other at the end of our vacation. Now that I travel with my kids, I do my best to steer them to adventures in the Great Outdoors, frowning over staying inside to play games.
However, each time they pressure me to play arcade games, I remember that vacation and how much joy it gave me to do the same. We popped into the Carousel and Arcade Games in Ventura Harbor Village for a few games of basketball toss and car races, collecting a few tickets to trade in for prizes as we went. Downtown Ventura is perfect for a relaxed afternoon of shopping window or not and soaking up the Ventura vibe.
Main street is several blocks long and filled with boutique stores, antique shops, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, entertainment spaces, and a large collection of second-hand stores. Amongst the shopping and eating, be sure to stop and marvel at the beautiful Ventura City Hall and the mission see point 7. For all you travel addicts, do not walk past Passport Habits. The owner has lived and traveled all over the world and continues to hand pack items from her adventures for her store. I settled for a bunch of crystals for myself, Craig and the girls.
I could feel the energy off them and knew they were the real deal. Get lost in there for a while. I like them. The good news is they are all situated on the main street and in easy walking distance from each other and the Ventura Pier and Crowne Plaza Hotel.
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San Buenaventura Mission was created in with the intention of converting the native Chumash people into the Spanish way of living and Catholic religion. The Mission is opened to the public to explore.
We arrived right near closing so had a few minutes to walk round the serene mission gardens. The pier is at the bottom of Downton Ventura and is the 8th longest in California and a favorite for fisherman.
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There is a great surfing break just to the north of the pier as well at Surfers Point Beach. I enjoyed watching the surfers of a morning from our balcony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The waves were consistently good every day.
I also loved the views sitting around the fire pit out the front of the Crowne Plaza and looking out towards the Channel Islands. Let me know! It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and feels like the kind of place where everyone will know your name. Lure is one of the most popular places to eat in Ventura and can get very busy so you might want to reserve a table. The menu at Lure Fish House features fresh and sustainable seafood locally caught, organically grown local produce, and wines from local vineyards whenever possible. We both ordered the local wild Pacific Rockfish with local brussel sprouts and almond pesto cauliflower delish.
We discovered Harvest Cafe as we were leaving Ventura and were looking for a quick breakfast spot. It was the perfect end to our time in Ventura. All of their ingredients are organic, and grown as close to our location as possible.
How can you not support such a socially responsible local company who cares about your health and delicious food? Waffles are rarely on my agenda so I could not resist ordering a serve of the gluten free vegan buckwheat waffles topped with berries and cashew nut cream and maple syrup. They even have games the kids can play even while you eat your breakfast. After our Channel Islands adventure, we decided to go back to our hotel in Ventura and eat dinner at the restaurant so we could relax around the fire pit with views of the islands we had just sailed back from.
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But we were just ready to relax. I forget that we were in California so of course the food was going to be good. In fact, one of our favorite food experiences on our Southern California road trip was the Pacific Hideaway restaurant inside the Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel. La Coscha has award winning innovate Mexican dishes created from ingredients that honor the local agriculture as well as sustainably sources seafood.
It was a wonderful space to watch the sunset and relax around the fire chatting with other people staying in the hotel. They make their food from scratch using fine ingredients and traditional methods — just like grandma used to make them! views on TripAdvisor. The Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard is the perfect place for a gondola ride.
Unlike Venice, Italy, you will mostly have the canals to yourself, which makes this gondola ride experience even more special. As our guide, and owner of Gondola ParadisoMark Schooling explained to us.
Apart from our conversations, all I could hear was the gentle lapping of the paddle, and the only other movement we were witness to was the group of kids paddling by on their stand up paddle boards. Their music broke the serenity a little, but their laughter only added to the joy of experiencing local living. The gondola ride is a loop around the canals of Coral Island where you get to see the beautiful mansions on the water. In Oxnard, California they run cheap at an average of about 2 million. Mark has everything set up for a comfortable gondola ride; warm blankets to offset any cool breeze.
There was also plenty of space for us to sit and relax. You are more than welcome to bring your own food and drinks as well. We have penciled in a sunset gondola ride with wine and cheese for our next visit to Ventura County. And remember the gondola rule for passing under bridges — you have to kiss your partner. I had never heard of Foot Golf until it landed on our Ventura itinerary. Off we went on our first afternoon to the local River Ridge Golf Club to perfect our soccer golf skills. I highly recommend foot golf as one of the best things to do in Ventura with kids.
Actually, go out this weekend in your hometown and play it.
Savannah was pretty exhausted after it because she ran almost the entire time. Some holes took her 22 kicks to get it in!! We loved her style and perseverance to just run and dribble. The fairways are much smaller than your typical golf ones. The Annex is a collection of global cuisine ranging from burgers, Mexican, Italian, crepes, Vietnamese, Hawaiian Poke and Latin American Ceviche bowls, and even healthy smoothies. When you have finished you can wander around The Collection, which is an outdoor mall with plenty of major retailers and smaller boutique stores.