Just between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Ventura is surrounded by beautiful fields of farms and flowers and anchored by a cute yet lively downtown. You can go to the beach, go antiquing, and or do some outlet shopping. It's the perfect destination for sun worshippers, beach bums, marathon shoppers, and food lovers alike. For a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big city, head just about 65 miles north of Los Angeles to start your Ventura day trip.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like Ventura?
Some Southern Californians call Ventura a more reasonably-priced version of Santa Barbara. It's easy to draw parallels: both have a scenic, seaside location and a historic Spanish mission. Ventura has a more easy-going ambiance than Santa Barbara and is much easier on the pocketbook, too. Save some money without compromising on beach time; Get that California beach town charm by going to the many places to visit in Ventura County.
Five Great Things to Do in Ventura
Located on the Pacific Coast north of Los Angeles, Ventura is a destination with a lively downtown that's undergoing active growth and development. It's best visited as a day trip unless you plan to visit the Channel Islands or spend a lot of time at the beach. Here are some of the things to do in Ventura County this weekend or even for a quick day trip away from the city:
- Channel Islands National Park: So rich in unique species that it could be called California's Galapagos, this chain of islands are some of California's most interesting places to visit.
- Mission San Buenaventura: One of California's few Spanish missions that were never destroyed, Mission San Buenaventura was the last mission founded by Father Junipero Serra. It's right on Main Street in downtown.
- Downtown Ventura: There's more in downtown Ventura than just the mission, everything from second-hand stores and antique shops to restaurants, art galleries, and day spas.
- Waterfront: Ventura sits right on the Pacific coast, and you can go to the beach here, go boating or windsurfing, build a sandcastle or catch a fish. Use this guide to find your perfect Ventura Beach.
- Bell Arts Factory: It used to be a mattress factory. In fact, the sign out front still says so, but these days it's home to some good artist's studios.
Annual Events You Should Know About
The Ventura County Fair happens every August.
From late January through early February, the tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain visits Ventura. You can tour it from dockside, watch her engage in mock battles, or sail with her from Oxnard to Ventura — or even all the way to San Francisco. Check the schedule and reserve ahead of time.
If you're a nature lover, monarch butterflies move into the trees at Camino Real Park (Dean Drive at Mills Road) from October through February. The best time to see them is in the morning when the sun hits their trees. That's when you can watch them wake up and flutter off.
Whales are around for more of the year: Pacific Grey whales are off the coast from late December through the end of March and Humpback and Blue whales appear from late June through August. You'll find whale-watching tours departing from the harbor.
Where to Stay in Ventura, California
Hotels cluster along US Hwy 101 near the pier, around the Marina Village Shopping Center on the north side of town, and near the harbor. Stay as close to the water or as close to town as you like. Ventura has plenty of options based on the type of weekend and the activities you have planned.
Use our tips for choosing a place to stay to help make your decision.
Getting To Ventura
Ventura is located on U.S. Hwy 101, 70 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara.
The nearest airports are in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.