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Ventura County: The Land of Surf, Sand, and Sun

Ventura County: The Land of Surf, Sand, and Sun

Situated just south of Santa Barbara, Ventura County is a picturesque region with exceptional weather for most of the year.


5 min read

June 02, 2022

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

Situated just south of Santa Barbara, Ventura County is a picturesque region with exceptional weather for most of the year. It’s also one of the state’s leading agricultural producers; in fact, when combined with the Los Padres National Forest, the fertile valleys at the southern end comprise half of the county’s 1.2 million acres. But what makes the area more special are its miles of pristine coastline and string of delightful, laid-back towns. From the charming village of Ojai to the bustling hub of Ventura, plenty of entertainment awaits in this SoCal destination.

Oxnard is the most populous city in the county and offers an array of activities. Surf at the local favorite Silver Strand State Beach, go for a sunset stroll at Mandalay State Beach, bike or pedal along a coastal trail, or take a day trip to the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary — merely a 90-minute boat ride from the local harbor—for hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and photography. The remote park consists of five untamed islands surrounded by ocean waters, offering a quiet escape from the vibrant mainland. There’s also plenty to enjoy in the bustling downtown area, which features an impressive assortment of dining options for every palate (make sure to try the famous Oxnard strawberries while you’re there), plus an art museum, galleries, and eclectic shops.

Golden sands and azure waters await you at Mandalay Beach.

Get Your Dose of Outdoor Fun in the Los Padres National Forest

A few miles north of Oxnard, Ventura is another vibrant city boasting cultural attractions, a booming farm-to-table dining scene, and both oceanfront and mountain recreation. Located in the foothills of Ventura, the Los Padres National Forest is a must-see for visitors seeking outdoor adventure, as the expansive forest provides opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and hunting. 

Soak in the Coastal Vibes at Ventura Harbor

Beachgoers, meanwhile, can find fun in the sun at Ventura Harbor, which features such activities as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, sunset cruises, and whale watching. In addition, Ventura Harbor Village enables visitors to shop local, eat freshly caught seafood, and admire the artwork at studios and galleries. Ventura’s historic downtown is also worth checking out for its cultural landmarks, including the San Buenaventura Mission and the Museum of Ventura County, California.

Ventura Harbor Village is a must-visit nautical destination for the whole family.

Unwind and Refresh at Ojai

The small town of Ojai is the place for those in need of a truly relaxing and quiet escape. Set beneath the Topatopa Mountains, this haven features plush accommodations; luxe spas; uncrowded hiking and biking pathways; a scenic lake; and quaint shops selling everything from locally made olive oil to trendy fashions, to handcrafted furniture.  One popular destination in this area is the Ojai Valley Inn. Located among 220 acres of stunning landscape and lush greenery, the spa retreat offers fine dining, culinary classes, Himalayan salt stone massages, and much, much more. It is also home to one of the Ventura County golf courses.

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Catch a Wave or Two at Emma Woods State Beach

With sweeping views of the ocean, Emma Woods State Beach is known to draw visitors of all ages.

Extending from the tip of the Ventura River and north of downtown Ventura is the Emma Wood State Beach. It is a hotspot for a variety of activities such as fishing, surfing, and swimming. Visitors also indulge in beachside pastimes like beachcombing, biking, and tanning. The beach is accessible through Omer Rains Coastal Bike Trail. It’s only a 4-mile ride from Ventura and boasts picturesque views along the way. RV camping is another activity you can enjoy at Emma Wood, although the campground doesn’t offer any amenities so you’ll have to come prepared.  

Let the Kids Run Amok at Marina Park

Opposite the Ventura Harbor Village, Marina Park is a hotspot for families and a perfect place for the little ones to run around. The verdant park features a playground, fishing docks, and excellent views of the harbor. Several picnic areas are also available for families in addition to a huge pirate ship for kids. Inside this Ventura County park, visitors can access Sotter’s Point through a path that takes them onto the jetty. There, you can watch boats as they leave the harbor and venture into the ocean.

Enjoy Hiking, Tanning, and More at San Buenaventura State Beach

Another Ventura attraction worth mentioning is the San Buenaventura State Beach. Sprawling across 2 miles, this sandy stretch is where beachgoers can go for a swim, ride the surf, and maybe catch a tan. Picnic areas under the shade of trees provide families with a space to unwind and treat themselves to some snacks. The beach also borders the historic Ventura Pier, which is an attraction in and of itself. Hikers can take the Omer Rains Trail that stretches along the beach and beyond.

The iconic Ventura Pier is an ideal spot for fishing, taking a stroll, and admiring the grandeur of the ocean.

Indulge in Ventura’s Culinary Scene

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants in Ventura County. Lure Fish House is the go-to place for seafood aficionados while The Taj Cafe draws capsaicinophiles. If you’re starting your day early in Ventura County, head over to Pete’s Breakfast House for a healthy meal. Later on, you can sink your teeth into a juicy burger at BLVD BRGR Company. And what better way to enjoy the sunset than with a taco in one hand? Beach House Tacos will offer that experience.

End Your Ventura Trip With a Thrill 

Another hotspot for visitors is the Ventura County Fairgrounds and Event Center. Besides offering a ton of fun activities including an amusement park, the site hosts the annual Ventura County Fair. Other events include dog shows, Lucha libre, pony races, as well as exhibitions. Visitors will also have access to venues for conventions, trade shows, and business meetings. While you’re there, consider treating yourself to the coastal accommodations at the nearby Ventura Beach Marriott.

But there are many more attractions to see throughout Ventura County, including Point Mugu State Park, Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, Boney Peak, Corriganville Park, and Chumash Indian Museum. The latter is part of the Museum of Ventura County, and a tribute to the original inhabitants of the city. Regardless of where you go in the region, you’ll discover a rich, natural landscape, a thriving cultural scene, and seaside escapades.

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