Vacations to Ventura, California

Scenic Drive in CA
A coastal road in California (PhotoDisc)

Ventura Beach Travel Tips

  • The farther you get from Los Angeles, the more solitude you'll find. Beaches in Ventura are much less crowded than in Malibu—perfect for traveling families or anyone who wants a little more room to roam.
  • The center of Ventura's beach scene is San Buenaventura State Beach, where surfing, sand dunes, picnic tables, and more can be found along the two-mile stretch.
  • RVs and camper vans head to Emma Wood State Beach, where surfing, swimming, and fishing for perch and bass can all happen a short walk from your pop-up. Reservations are required mid-May through Labor Day.
  • Check the status of state beaches before your visit—recent budget cuts mean fewer programs and services.
  • You can see many of Ventura's beaches on two wheels—a 13-mile bike trail runs along the coast. (There's also an easy 15-mile path that links Ventura to tranquil Ojai.)
  • You'll find the biggest waves in winter, but surfers can find a little something year-round, as Ventura picks up incoming swell from several directions. Most paddle out from C Street.

A beach vacation in California can get pricey, with minimum stays and spendy tourist food. Not so in Ventura, a charming city at the southern end of the Central Coast, where you'll feel like you've stumbled on a friendly, unpretentious small town… that just happens to sit on some of the country's beaches and biking and hiking trails.

Stroll the shops and restaurants of Ventura's Main Street (most holidays bring street fairs) and then head toward the water. The Ventura Harbor Village has free concerts and events during the summer (one favorite is Pirate Days), and is the base camp for those heading to Channel Islands National Park. Island-bound boats leave regularly from Ventura Harbor, and the park's main visitor center is here, too.

But the mainland is an outdoor paradise in its own right—one reason legendary outdoor gear company Patagonia is based here. Bike trails outline the coast and connect Ventura and the nearby town of Ojai, known for its rural beauty. Climbing routes and hiking trails fill Los Padres National Forest. And, of course, there's the beach that calls to surfers, kiteboarders, and anyone who wants to glimpse the Channel Islands in the setting sun.

Published: 21 Jun 2010 | Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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