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California Coastal Spotlight: Ventura
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California Coastal Spotlight: Ventura

Your guide to the top things to do in the city of Ventura, a gorgeous coastal city offering outdoor adventure and a laid-back lifestyle.

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6 min read

October 22, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

Dazzling sapphire waters dance along the 40-plus miles of sandy shores as the day’s warm temperatures make way for cool breezes and cotton-candy skies. Arriving at the salty borders of the City of Ventura evokes butterfly-inducing levels of excitement while simultaneously creating a sense of ease that can only be found along the coastline.

With a gleaming terra cotta exterior, the Ventura City Hall has earned its place on the National Register for Historic Place, and is a State Landmark.

What Is the City of Ventura Known For?

Named after the Italian Saint Buenaventura, the city is Located in Ventura County and is a precious locale welcoming an immense amount of visitors, and even California retirees. Known for its flourishing cultural scene and its actively engaged community, the City of Ventura has a rich history in ethnicities. Ranging from Chumash and Spaniards, all the way to European and Chinese early voyagers; the city’s art, culture, and architecture hold out a significant influence from its background.

Plaza Park

A walk down Main Street and through Plaza Park is what strongly accentuates your visit to Ventura. Take a stroll up Chestnut Street, through the park, and by the ornate city hall before arriving at the Ventura Botanical Gardens. The beautiful gardens feature 160-plus species, which are primarily from Mediterranean climates. Feast your eyes on the scenery of the lush eucalyptus forests, sage, and a Chilean succulent garden throughout the luxuriant stretch. 

Lunch – Taste of The City

What follows this lush experience is a nice lunch along the Ventura coast. Drive over to The Jolly Oyster Shuck Shack to savor the fresh oysters and clams that make up the local cuisine. This small, family-owned business is dedicated to serving high-quality, organic seafood and preserving the planet. And with that in mind, start off with a dozen grilled oysters to avoid choosing between the habanero butter and the creole. Pursue the flavor journey with the bay scallop ceviche to experience the bright palette of lime juice, red onions, cilantro, and serrano peppers. Wash it all down with coconut water for a punch of hydration and a tropical kick that will have you floating on the coasts of the City of Ventura.

Experience a calm afternoon connecting with the Pacific on a serene boating trip on the blue Ventura swaths.

Ventura Boat Rentals

With a better understanding of the local fishing culture and cuisine, drive over to Ventura Harbor for some fun in the sun. You can pick up a paddle board from Ventura Boat Rentals or even a pedal boat or kayak. Enjoy a sunlit adventure exploring the boats, docks, and open waters that border the town’s shoreline. Check out the vast array of bird species that call Ventura home, and if you’re in luck, you might even be able to spot some whales or other marine life.

Is Ventura a Good City to Live In?

Considering it's one of America's most desirable places to live, the city is famed for more than just its coastline haven. Unlike the beach towel–filled sands of Southern California or the popular surf towns of Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, the Central Coast welcomes a smaller number of visitors. If you’re keen on dipping into invigorating waters, or a new adventure and a laid-back lifestyle tickle your fancy, pack up the car, hit the road, and prepare for all that the day has in store. 

Morning

Don’t miss out on the exceptional dishes of Pete’s Breakfast House, including the uncanny pancake rolls.

Breakfast – Pete’s Breakfast House

While driving straight to the ocean and diving right into the crisp waters of Ventura City can be unbearably tempting, a drive down East Main Street can start your day exceptionally right. A rewarding day awaits as you fuel up at Pete’s Breakfast House. Featured on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives’ in 2012, the joint is the pride of this small town. Fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients make up the menu at Pete’s, where breakfast favorites are served all day long. We recommend the plate of house-made biscuits and gravy for some true comfort food that will keep you satiated. And don’t miss out on the pancake roll featuring yogurt, seasonal fruit, and granola, which is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Capture the best views of Ventura city, posing on the most popular spot of the park - by the Serra Cross.

Serra Cross at Grant Park

After filling up, take a detour to Grant Park for some of the best views in the City of Ventura California. Enjoy the breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean glistening behind the buildings of downtown Ventura. Saunter through the gentle flora of the garden, as you make your way to the Serra Cross Park. Take in the spectacular backdrop as you make the frame permanent with a photo. Breathe in the fresh ocean air while stretching your body in this serene ambiance.

Ride Ventura’s wild waves and let the perfectly temperate waters grow your passion for the ocean.

Surfing

With the view of the ocean in your heart, it's time to actually dip in. Head down to the Ventura Surf Shop to rent a surfboard, then take it out on the beautiful, temperate waters. Make sure you check out Surfers Point, less than half a mile away, to catch waves with the locals. Located in the mouth of the Ventura River, this Ventura City beach provides the unique opportunity to ride right-hand waves. These consistent swells also direct surfers toward the rustic Ventura Pier—one of the town’s best-known landmarks.

If the waves are too intimidating, or for a slightly more secluded surfing experience, head south to Ventura City beach.  Bathe in moderate temperatures and absolutely perfect waters for swimming and riding waves while you bask in the perks of this SoCal beach town. With an hour or two of surfing under your belt, head back to the Ventura Surf Shop to drop off your board, and then make your way toward the pier to soak up the sun and watch the windsurfers show off their talents.

What Kind of Town Is Ventura CA?

As the day begins to cool down, Ventura transforms into a social hub of locals sauntering around every inch of the city. Like the rest of Ventura County cities, this little town reveals its secrets when the sun has settled.

Visit the Mission San Buenaventura on the East Main Street – a famous Catholic parish and basilica in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

East Main Street

Head inland to explore the charming eateries and boutiques of East Main Street. You can also visit Mission San Buenaventura, catch a show at the Rubicon Theater, or stroll around the Museum of Ventura County. Wandering around Ventura’s attractions truly allows you to take in all the town has to offer; from the stunning scenery to the wide-open water and the plethora of entertaining activities, it is clear why people choose to call this city home. 

Dinner – Lure Fish House

Keep the fun times rolling as you make your way to Lure Fish House. We suggest starting off with the creamy spinach and artichoke dip, with the delectable lobster perched on top. After that, drown the woes in succulent seafood with the Lure Cioppino – a dish medley of all the good things from the sea – consisting of fresh fish mingling with gulf shrimp, clams, mussels, and scallops – all harvested from the coasts of the City of Ventura. Make it a memorable ending with the rich flourless chocolate cake served with vanilla bean ice cream, drizzled with house-made salted caramel, and sprinkled with organic cacao nibs.

As the day comes to a close, you may start to entirely rethink your original plans. Should you choose to follow your impulses, head inland to Lake Casitas Recreation Area to spend the night along the waters, rent a canoe in the morning, and ponder becoming a permanent Ventura resident!

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