We are excited to welcome you to our little piece of paradise on the Central Coast! Here are a few fun facts to get you acquainted with our beautiful beachside community.
Ventura lies nestled between the hills and the water on California’s Central Coast and along iconic Highway 1 welcoming visitors to endless summers and an average of 275 days of sunshine each year. The city was founded in 1782 by Saint Junipero Serra and is home to the last mission he founded: Old Mission San Buenaventura – still a working church located on Main Street in Ventura’s historic downtown. After the mission was founded, a large wooden cross was planted atop the hill overlooking the church. To this day, Serra Cross in Grant Park is a local and visitor favorite offering the best view in all of Ventura just above the botanical gardens.
Ventura enjoys miles of pristine beaches complete with one of the longest wooden piers in California, home to a local favorite taco shack and a fresh seafood market. The beach is enjoyed year-round whether to surf, fish, boogie board, sunbathe, stroll, or watch a captivating sunset over the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. San Buenaventura State Beach is special for many as one of the few beaches in southern California that allow alcoholic beverages, while other beaches like Marina Park and Surfer’s Point, are beloved as dog-friendly playgrounds for furry friends. Ventura Beach Promenade is also the starting point for two amazing bike paths -a coastal route that leads to Santa Barbara, and a mountain route that descends into Ojai.
Another stop along Ventura’s coast is Ventura Harbor, the site of one of the largest squid offloading harbors in North America. Market squid is California’s largest and most lucrative commercial fish, making Ventura Harbor the largest squid harbor on the west coast. The harbor lies amidst Ventura Harbor Village where visitors find an array of restaurants, boutique shops and galleries to explore along a flower-lined promenade with views of the marina. Kayaks, canoes, pedal-boats or stand-up paddleboards are available to rent for a slightly different perspective and the opportunity to get up close with the sea lions and seals that live nearby. And when you’re ready to head downtown, take the free Downtown Harbor Trolley!
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 eight mile round-trip trail ascends along a grassy plateau that provides great views of the Pacific Ocean and the other islands, before winding down through a scenic olive grove to a stellar beach that reflects both the blue sky and the water, amidst complete solitude. Other activities available around the islands include snorkeling, diving, sea cave kayaking, whale watching, bird watching, and camping.
Just a couple of blocks away from the water, there is something for all the senses in Ventura’s historic downtown. Listen to live music from jazz to hip hop almost any night of the week; Taste an array of ethnic cuisines or wow your palette with a flight of Central Coast wines; Discover unique art by local artists at one of the many galleries; Transport yourself with a tour of historic sites; Visit antique stores to look for hidden gems or remnants of your childhood; And be sure to visit during special events like the Winter Wine Walk and Street Fair, Ventura County Fair Parade, and California Beer Festival, when downtown enjoys an extra dose of fun.
With so much to offer, it’s up to you to discover what Ventura means for you. Share your experience with us at #VisitVentura and don’t forget to come by the Visitor Center for even more local tips!