View of the Ventura Pier and the C Street surf break
Sailing the vivid blue waters around the Channel Islands
Skateboarding, biking and walking along the promenade at the Ventura Pier
A lunge-feeding humpback whale in the Santa Barbara Channel
View of Mission San Buenaventura from Figueroa Street
The 1912 San Buenaventura City Hall, a State Historical Landmark
Mountain biking off a jump in the hills overlooking the city
Victorian house framed by wisteria in spring in Ojai
Easy breezes and succulent seafood
While its fashionable neighbors have the luxury travel experience down to an art, Ventura offers a more affordable alternative where visitors can fit in almost anywhere wearing shorts and sandals. Million-dollar views atop Ventura’s Botanical Gardens are free and open to the public. Surf-worthy waves are complimentary as are the beautiful sunsets over the Pacific.
Parking also is free in Ventura’s historic downtown, making it easy for visitors to spend hours exploring the traditional all-American Main Street filled with unique shops, art, historic sites and yummy eats. For beer enthusiasts, Ventura offers multiple craft breweries with outdoor family- and pet- friendly seating. Some partner with local food trucks to provide delicious remedies for the munchies. Wineries are also popular in Ventura as part of the growing Central Coast wine region.
The Ventura Pier, only two blocks from Main Street, is a local favorite spot for fishing, sunset strolls, happy hour and fresh fish tacos. To the left of the pier is San Buenaventura State Beach, one of the few beaches in southern California that allows alcoholic beverages. A promenade runs along the state beach and is the starting point for two amazing bike paths – a coastal route that leads to Santa Barbara, and a mountain route that descends into Ojai.
Visitors can also take the free Downtown Harbor Trolley to explore Ventura Harbor Village, where there is an array of restaurants, boutiques and galleries along a flower-lined promenade with views of the marina. Kayaks, canoes, pedal-boats and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent.
Just off Ventura’s coast lies Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary, often referred to as North America’s Galapagos. Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island is considered one of the Top 10 beach hikes in California. This nearly 13-kilometer, round-trip trail ascends along a grassy plateau that provides great views of the Pacific Ocean and other islands before winding down through a scenic olive grove to a stellar beach that reflects both the blue sky and the water. Other activities available around the islands include snorkeling, diving, sea cave kayaking, whale watching, bird watching and camping.