Things to Do in Ventura

6 Best Things to Do in Ventura, California

Things to Do in Ventura, located along California’s scenic Pacific coastline just an hour north of Los Angeles, is one of Southern California’s best-kept secrets. Despite its small size, this charming beach town has an abundance of activities, attractions, restaurants, shops and natural beauty that will keep you entertained for days. From family-friendly fun to outdoor adventures, arts and culture to unique dining experiences, Things to Do in Ventura, something for every type of traveller.

Coastal Attractions

No trip to Ventura is complete without spending time along its gorgeous coastline. Here are some of the top coastal attractions to check out:

Ventura Pier: Located right on Main Street, this historic 1872 pier offers stunning ocean views. Take a stroll along the wooden planks and watch surfers ride the waves. Free.

Emma Wood State Beach: This wide stretch of soft sand is perfect for beachcombing, sunbathing or swimming. Look for colourful rock formations. Free.

San Buenaventura State Beach: Also known as Ventura Beach, this is one of the best spots for surfing or just relaxing with a picnic. Free.

Ventura Harbor: Wander the shops and restaurants along the marina. Rent a kayak or book a whale-watching tour with Island Packers. Fees vary.

Ventura Promenade: Take in panoramic ocean vistas along this scenic walking/biking path that hugs the coastline. Free.

Mondos Beach: Join a surf lesson or rent a board to hit the waves. Lessons from $85.

With its mild climate and protected coves, Things to Do in Ventura offers the perfect setting for beach activities year-round. Be sure to allow plenty of time to soak in the natural beauty of the coast.

Downtown Delights

The heart of Ventura lies in its charming downtown area. Here are some top attractions to check out:

Mission San Buenaventura: Take a self-guided tour of California’s ninth mission, built-in 1782. Donation requested.

Ventura County Museum of Art: Browse exhibits showcasing local artists in a historic Spanish-style building. $5-10.

Rubicon Theatre: Catch a play, musical or film screening at this acclaimed performing arts venue. Tickets from $20.

Downtown Ventura: Browse the boutiques, bookstores, art galleries and restaurants along main streets like Main, California and Palm.

Seaside Park: Relax in this green space and watch the surfers at Surfer’s Point. Free.

Farmers Markets: Shop fresh produce and goods at the Tuesday or Saturday markets. Free.

Vintage shops: Find unique treasures in stores like Poppies and Buffalo Exchange. Prices vary.

With so much to explore in a compact area, you could easily spend a full day meandering through downtown Ventura. Be sure to check out event calendars for festivals too.

Nature & Outdoor Pursuits

Ventura offers an abundance of opportunities to get active outdoors. Here are some top nature attractions and activities:

Ventura Botanical Gardens: Wander the themed gardens and enjoy live music some Sundays. $5-10.

San Buenaventura State Beach: Go for a jog, walk your dog or rent bikes to cruise along the bike path. Fees vary.

Rincon Parkway Bike Trail: Bike or hike along this scenic coastal route with ocean views. Free.

Ventura River Trail: Hike or bike this flat 5-mile trail through oak woodlands. Free.

Wilding Museum: Check out the native plant and pollinator gardens. Donation requested.

Santa Clara River Trail: Bike or hike along this scenic river route. Free.

Topatopa Bluffs Trail: Hike to scenic ocean vistas on this moderately challenging 1.5-mile trail. Free.

Channel Islands National Park: Book a boat trip to explore these remote islands offshore. Fees vary.

With its mild climate and proximity to the ocean and mountains, Ventura offers endless opportunities to play outside. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes!

Nightlife & Entertainment 

Nightlife & Entertainment 

After a full day of sightseeing and activities, Ventura’s nightlife is the perfect way to unwind. Here are some top options:

Topa Topa Brewing Company: Sip craft beers and snacks in the beer garden or inside the industrial-chic tasting room.

Brothers Restaurant and Brewery: Enjoy brick oven pizza, live music and over 30 beers on tap.

Speedtraps Bar: Catch live music most nights in this casual downtown watering hole.

Ventura Harbor Comedy Club: Catch up-and-coming comedians at this intimate venue.

Rubicon Theatre: Check their calendar for plays, musicals, films and more in the evenings.

Seabridge Performing Arts Center: Catch concerts, plays and other performances here.

Ventura Theatre: Catch classic films shown on the historic big screen downtown.

With options ranging from low-key breweries to lively music venues, you’ll always find something fun happening after dark in Ventura. Be sure to check online calendars.

Shopping & Specialty Stores 

Part of the charm of Ventura lies in its eclectic shops and boutiques. Here are some top places to peruse:

Poppies Vintage Clothing: Browse unique vintage finds from the 1930s to 1980s.

Buffalo Exchange: Sell your threads and find treasures at this thrift/consignment shop.

ARTesano: Discover handcrafted art, jewellery and home goods from local artisans.

Surf Happens: Outfit yourself with boards, wetsuits and gear for land or sea.

Ventura Harbor Village: Wander the shops for gifts, clothing and local goods.

Ventura Certified Farmers Market: Shop fresh produce and speciality foods on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Patagonia: Browse sustainable outdoor apparel and learn about the brand’s history and values.

With one-of-a-kind boutiques and speciality stores, you’re sure to find unique treasures reflecting Ventura’s spirit. Budget time to explore the eclectic shops.

Outdoor Adventures – Things to Do in Ventura

For those seeking outdoor thrills, Ventura offers no shortage of adventurous activities. Here are some top options:

Surfing: Several beaches offer consistent waves for beginners and pros alike. Rent gear from Mondos.

Kayaking: Paddle out to secluded coves and islands with Ventura Kayak or Channel Islands Kayak Center.

Hiking: Explore trails like Topatopa Bluffs, Arroyo Verde Park or Wilding Museum’s gardens.

Whale Watching: Sail into the Channel Islands from December to May to spot migrating whales. Book tours with Island Packers.

Mountain Biking: Shred trails at Arroyo Verde Park, Wilding Museum or other locations.

Sport Fishing: Charter boats depart daily from Ventura Harbor in search of halibut, rockfish and more.

With its proximity to the ocean, mountains and islands, Ventura offers unlimited ways to play outside. Be sure to pack your sense of adventure!

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From relaxing beaches and scenic trails to a vibrant downtown filled with art, entertainment and culinary delights, there are countless activities for all interests and ages. Be sure to allow plenty of time to soak up the laidback coastal charm and California sunshine that make Ventura such a special place. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, I wish you the very best in planning your Ventura adventures – you won’t regret adding the city to your travel itinerary.

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