The Ventura Region offers visitors their first taste of the relaxed vibe and natural beauty that characterize California’s Central Coast. This sun-kissed region has plenty to offer—and much of it is off-the-beaten path. Get inspired to go beyond the beach with these Ventura Region hidden gems.
Known for its wide-open spaces, Conejo Valley is an ideal socially distant escape. Soak in majestic views by hiking the area’s 140 miles of public multi-purpose trails. Notable trails include Sandstone Peak, which is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at an elevation of 3,111 feet. It is a beautiful, moderate hike with sweeping views out to the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands, and inland to the Conejo Valley. Sycamore Canyon is best for novice and intermediate hikers and offers plenty of free parking.
Chumash Indian Museum
The Chumash Indian Museum is a historical site and living history center dedicated to restoring and preserving an awareness of the Chumash people and their historical, cultural, material, and present-day influence. Through exhibits, events, and educational programs, the Chumash Indian Museum serves as a gathering place connecting the past with the present to continue our shared future.
Arts in Santa Paula
Located just off Highway 126 in the Heritage Valley, the Santa Paula Art Museum occupies two beautifully renovated, historic buildings in the heart of downtown Santa Paula. A friendly docent will greet you and set you off to be inspired by exhibitions of vintage and contemporary art, which are sure to be as beautiful as the town of Santa Paula itself!
Also, the Santa Paula Theater Center has been serving the tri-counties with top-notch theatrical experiences for over 35 years. The craftsman style building that SPTC calls home has two stages (SPTC Mainstage and BackStage@SPTC) that produce classic, familiar, and up to the minute new fare. In addition, SPTC mounts a concert series, Ghostwalk, and training classes for actors of all ages.
Gardens of the World
This inspiring 4.5-acre cultural landmark in Thousand Oaks features five different gardens representing England, France, Italy, Japan; plus the unique California Mission Courtyard. Explore this Ventura region hidden gem on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the gardens, its plants, and the cultures it represents.
The Camarillo Ranch House
A true Ventura hidden gem, the Camarillo Ranch House is a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1892 by Adolfo Camarillo, the city’s namesake. The house features both Queen Anne style architecture and rich local history. Today, the Camarillo Ranch House operates as a museum with rotating exhibits and home tours.
The Majestic Ventura Theater is one of the hidden gems of Ventura County, and has been offering live music in Downtown Ventura for nearly 100 years. Showing off California history with its 1920s mission-style architecture, The Majestic has hosted many legendary artists of all genres of music, including Punk, Alternative Rock, Reggae, Classic Rock, Metal, Blues, Country, Jazz, Funk, Latin, Rock en Espanol, Electronica, R&B/Trip-Hop/Hip-Hop, World and more.
The Jolly Oyster
Experience DIY oyster shucking by the beach at The Jolly Oyster Shuck Shack at San Buenaventura State Beach Park. Featuring fresh, raw, sustainably-farmed oysters from Baja California, the shuck shack is a relaxed atmosphere where you can learn to shuck oysters like a pro. Bring your own picnic and drinks to complete the meal at this pet- and family-friendly spot. Photo: Kamilo Bustamante
Mullin Automotive Museum
The Mullin Automotive Museum has on display one of the finest collections of automobiles in the world. See prestigious Concours d’Elegance winners and winners of historic races such as the Grand Prix de Pau and Le Mans. The museums’ most renowned cars include “The Mona Lisa of Cars” – a 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic; a 1939 Delahaye 165; “The Lady of Lake Maggiore” – a 925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster; and the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winning 1935 Voisin Aerodyne!
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Located in a new state-of-the-art facility at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum offers kids an exciting and educational experience. The Seabee Museum features interactive, family-friendly exhibits and programs to engage and inspire visitors about the lesser-known brave men and women in the Naval Construction Force.
The Channel Islands are a Ventura Region hidden gem hidden in plain sight. While anyone gazing out across the water can see the islands, few make the trip to explore these incredible islands first-hand. The Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary is known as “The Galapagos of North America,” and is a recreational hot spot and a backyard paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The islands are between 14 and 55 miles offshore. The island’s five distinctive islands—Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel— are home to more than 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world.
Photo: Chuck Graham
California's Central Coast consists of:VENTURA REGION: Ventura County, Camarillo, Conejo Valley, Heritage Valley, Oxnard, Simi Valley
SANTA BARBARA REGION: Santa Barbara County, Buellton, Carpinteria Valley, Lompoc Valley, Los Olivos, Santa Maria Valley, Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGION: San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Cayucos, Grover Beach, Harmony, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Simeon
MONTEREY BAY REGION: Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Gilroy, Hollister, San Benito, San Juan Bautista
About Central Coast Tourism Council
The Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) is a non-profit organization comprised of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs; Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) throughout the California Central Coast. Comprised of tourism and hospitality professionals, the mission of CCTC is to jointly promote the entire California Central Coast as a destination. The four regions that comprise California’s Central Coast include Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The CCTC also serves as the Central Coast’s voice in Sacramento, and as a partner with Visit California’s global marketing and advertising campaigns.