Ventura is a city of 109,000 people on the southern central coast of California. In its early days, it was a remote town with lots of orange groves due to its very fertile soil. The discovery of oil in 1914 led to rapid population growth. Today, with its scenic countryside and revitalized downtown, there are many cool things to do in Ventura.
10. Ventura Film Society
This film society intends to celebrate and support cultural diversity in the local community. It has been screening unusual and avant garde films, such as Advanced Style, Cavedigger, Finders Keepers, Beware of Mr. Baker, and Live Forever: The Ray Bradbury Odyssey. Venues alternate between the Museum of Ventura County, at 100 E. Main St., and the Cinemark Century 10 Downtown, at 555 E. Main St. The film society is a non-profit group that relies on donations. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. You’ll want to check the website for film times and location.
9. Surfing Lessons
The city’s Harbor Village offers lots of ways to have fun with friends or family in the water. There’s kayaking, sailing, boat tours, and more. A number of surfing businesses call the area home, including Mary Osborne’s Surf retreats, Momentum Surf Camp, Paddybex Surf School, and Ventura Makos Surf Camp. There are also shops that rent surfboards and other water sport equipment. The city has perfect beaches for surfing, such as Rincon Beach, Surfer’s Point, and San Buenaventura State Beach. Surfing schools give lessons to people of all ages, from beginner to intermediate. You can get prices and details at the schools’ websites.
8. Buenaventura Art Association
The BAA supports and displays the works of local artists in its galleries, and also rents out pieces for people to enjoy. The association displays 1700 to 2000 pieces of local art each year in its Buenaventura Gallery, at 700 E Santa Clara St., its Harbor Village Gallery, at 1591 Spinnaker Dr., and also at the Community Memorial Hospital. Some exhibits are solo, and some are group. An exhibit may be up for a week to six weeks. There is no admission fee to come to the galleries, but the organization does accept donations at it website.
7. Olivas Adobe Historical Park
The Olivas Adobe was the family home of Raymundo Olivas, his wife, and their 21 children. Olivas built the two-story home in 1847, when there was no other home like it in the area. The estate, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places, has been restored, and is now a historical park. The house itself, which is said to be haunted by a woman, has a chapel, photos of the Olivas family, and period furnishings. The grounds have gardens, and the courtyard is used for romantic weddings and public events. The park is located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive.
6. Museum of Ventura County
This museum supports the art, history, and culture of the surrounding area by preserving and displaying its selection of more than 30,000 pieces of art. The center displays fine arts and historical artifact collections and exhibitions. Exhibits include “A Worse Place than Hell: The Changing Face of Abraham Lincoln,” and “Connected Spirits: The Chumash and Their World.” It also has a research library, hosts special events, and has special separate programs for kids and adults. 50,000 people each year visit the museum, attend its lectures, or take advantage of special day trips. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The research library is open the same hours Tuesday through Friday. The museum is located at 100 E. Main St. Admission can be paid on site.
5. San Buenaventura Mission
The Old Mission San Buenaventura was founded in 1782. It is the last of nine Spanish missions consecrated by Saint Junipero Serra. The current building was constructed in 1921, as the older structure had been damaged by a fire and later an earthquake. The mission has a museum, which offers tours, and has a gift shop. Each year the mission takes part in the San Buenaventura Downtown Street Fair on July 4th, the San Buenaventura Feast Day on July 15, and the Christmas Tree Lighting on the first Friday after Thanksgiving weekend, which are all popular events. The mission, which is located at 211 E Main St., is still an active church.
4. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
This marine sanctuary is the water extending six miles out surrounding the five islands that make up the Channel Islands National Park. The area that is protected, contains endangered species and shipwrecks, and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and shipping. Tourists can rent a boat or take a tour from one of a number of companies in the Harbor Village to go whale watching, fishing, or visit the park. The islands are an excellent area for kayaking through the sea caves, camping, and scuba diving. Tourism to the islands is most popular in the summer, but each season has something special to offer visitors.
3. Ventura Food Tours
This company offers guided walking tours around the area to check out some culinary gems. The tours aren’t all to the same places, but each stops at six locations and lasts about three hours. Some stops are brief, while others provide sit down service. Selections may include ethnic foods, gourmet eateries, desserts, wines, and cheeses. Guests will get to meet chefs and learn about the history and architecture of points of interest. Private tours can be booked for parties of at least eight. Most tours are offered on the weekend. Come hungry and wear something comfortable for walking.
2. The Majestic Ventura Theater
This theater, from 1928, was built in Mission Style Architecture. It seats 1,200 people, and it’s equipped with a ballroom and numerous full bars. The Majestic has excellent acoustics and a good view from any seat. Music concerts are presented approximately three times per week. Some artists who have played the Majestic include Everclear, Snoop Dogg, Dwight Yoakum, and The Reverend Horton Heat. Visitors are not permitted to wear gang or racist attire, and the dress code for hip-hop concerts is quite strict. The theater is located at 26 South Chestnut St. Tickets can be purchased for specific events at the website.
1. Harbor Village
Located at 1583 Spinnaker Drive, this waterfront area of the city has a walking promenade that runs right along the shore for more than a mile of shops, restaurants, and recreation businesses. The neighborhood is home to the Village Arcade & Carousel. Visitors can rent paddleboards, take a boat tour out to the Channel Islands National Park, or go sailing or scuba diving. Parking and entrance to the area is free, and dogs are welcome at many of the businesses. It is easy to see why this neighborhood is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ventura.
These are some of the best places to visit in Ventura. The climate of this coastal city is very mild. Most days are sunny. Temperatures range from the 40s to 50s at night, and the 60s to 70s during the day, all year. It is just slightly warmer in the summer than in the winter months, except when Santa Ana winds bring in very hot weather.