Charming communities are found along California’s coastline, each with its own special qualities. But few reflect California’s distinctively diverse, relaxed and friendly personality like Ventura does.
Ventura, the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park, is a classic Southern California beach town.
For many, images of San Buenaventura or “the City of Good Fortune” have been limited to a few highway signs along Highway 101 — leaving the legends, haunts, history and color of this seaside town virtually untold and undiscovered. Just 27 miles south of Santa Barbara and 60 miles north of Los Angeles, Ventura is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park; home to a thriving arts district; and shelter to one of California’s last working harbors. The centerpiece is Ventura?s revitalized downtown that reflects the charm of another era and the bustle of new boutiques, wine bars, restaurants, inns, galleries and stage theaters.
The City of Ventura is indeed the City of Good fortune with its surrounding mountains, miles of uncrowded beaches and mild year-round climate. The City?s Parks Division is proud of its numerous historical sites, bike paths and parks, many featuring magnificent views and several located right on the beachfront.
The parks system includes more than 700 acres of parkland and facilities serving various interests from sailing, surfing, tennis, league sports, skateboard parks, tot lots and picnic areas.
Two parks have areas for dogs to run off leash. Camino Real has a fenced off-leash area. Arroyo Verde allows dogs to be off leash during specific hours. The City?s parks also contain historic sites depicting the City?s earlyCalifornia heritage.
The park system includes two par-72 championship golf courses designed by renowned architect William Bell.
CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California it once was.
To say that there are numerous beaches is somewhat confusing. There is really just one long gorgeous stretch of sand that people have subdivided into beaches. After, it is important to know where you parked the car.
Emma Wood State Beach: Although this is primarily a camping beach, day use is permitted. This narrow ocean-side beach offers excellent views of the islands and is a favorite among surfers.
Harbor Cove Beach: Protected from the strong waves by the harbor’s breakwaters, this is a wonderful swimming beach. It is very close to entertainment and restaurants, as well, so it makes a great beginning (or middle or end) of an adventurous day.
Marina Park: A wonderful park + beach + picnic facilities + children’s play area. It also has a great view of the harbor. It’s common to see sailing lessons in the inlet.
Rincon Beach: This superb surfing beach is technically in Santa Barbara but right on the very, tippy edge of Santa Barbara. Enough of the surfers end up landing on Ventura shores to make it worth mentioning. Rated as one of the top five surfing spots in the world this beach is too close to ignore.
San Buenaventura Beach: In the heart of Ventura, this 2-mile long stretch of sand and sun includes a pier, restaurant, snack bar, surfing, swimming, camping, volleyball and biking. The park stretches almost to Seaward and there are two areas to park.
Seaward Avenue Beach: The Seaward Avenue Beach district is a small area, yes, but it is one of the more charming places in all of Ventura. It offers the ambience of a classic Southern California beach town, access to the beach and some very nice eateries.
Surfers Knoll Beach: This is a great beach for lounging, lingering and watching the incredible waves. The winds tend to be strong so this is also a great beach for flying your kite. Miles of glorious sand and the pounding surf are made particularly special by the illusion of privacy. You can’t swim here – or if you do it is at your own peril. There isn’t a life guard and there are signs warning of a fierce riptide. The parking is limited. This could also be a Pro, because it limits the number of people (for the privacy-mongers amongst us).
Surfers Point at Seaside Park: Also not a swimming beach, but not because of rid tides. Ventura has some of the best surfing in all of Southern California. This point is well known for the consistent, excellent waves.