Officially known as San Buenaventura, Ventura is a city in California which is at the mind of most tourists due to its stunning nature views, this city seats between two rivers, the Santa Clara River and the Ventura River.
There are lots of attractions and fun activities in Ventura for the whole family, which makes this city a perfect place for a vacation.
It is close to the Channels Islands presenting you an opportunity to ride boats to its shores on your tour this Island during your visit.
It presents itself with lots of parks and beaches which would give a fun outdoor time engaging in activities such as picnic, swimming, hiking and more.
Would you like to know what to do in Ventura during your visit, this guide is aimed at giving you the best spots in the city to give you a fun time through your vacation here.
During your visit, do not miss its historical museums such as the Museum of Ventura County, You can also decide to tour Ventura on a bike through the Ojai Paved Bike Paths, Foods are not left out for it has numerous restaurants, to visit notable food spots you can join the Ventura Food Tours.
Let us dive right into it, exploring the best things to do in Ventura.
Things to Do in Ventura, CA.
1. Ventura Harbor Village
Looking for a place to get the best seafood and have a good view of the ocean as you eat?, a visit to Ventura Harbor Village is just the option.
It provides you with the best ocean activities, ranging from the delicious meals to fun activities, you can decide to shop at some ocean side retail shops, take a tour of the ocean, play beach volleyball etc.
If you would like a tour through channels Island, you can take a ferry here to the Island, you can also decide to explore Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center.
Major activities in Harbor Village is either enjoying the atmosphere or taking a walk around, you won’t miss the amazing view made by the collection of boats in the harbor.
This is a great place to bring your family as there are quite some children activities around here too, mostly during the pet costume contest which comes up every year in October.
Address: 1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, California
2. Mission San Buenaventura
Mission San Buenaventura was founded by priest Junipero Serra in the year 1749.
It has quite a historic and turbulent past, its main aim of construction was to bring the catholic and Spanish culture to the Native people of Chumash, that plan didn’t go well as it was known to be burnt to the ground.
Later in 1809, it was rebuilt and since then it has faced so many turmoils such as threats from pirates as well as earthquakes, today it is a well known Catholic church opened to the public.
While visiting here you will meet a lot of art pieces which you will love, also you get to see it’s 1809 alter.
Located in the mission is the mission’s museum where you will get to see a lot of religious objects and artifacts which tell of those who visited this church.
Its garden is a spectacular one which is a place for a peaceful stay, you can as well take a tour with one of the deacons to have a good knowledge of the mission.
Address: 211 E Main St, Ventura, California.
3. Museum of Ventura County
Dr. Cephas Bard who was a doctor in Pennsylvania began the collection of objects in this museum.
History has it that he relocated to Ventura to practice his profession when the Civil war was over, however rather than collecting money for the service rendered he collected objects.
Objects he collected spanned across Chumash as well as historical objects from Mexico and Spanish history, these became the building blocks for the Museum of Ventura County.
In the year 1913, he decided to show these objects to the public by opening this museum, in 1997 after more collections were made, the need for a larger space saw this museum moving to the Mission San Buenaventura Building.
In 2011, the Agricultural section of this Museum was incorporated and today this museum has the goal of preserving the history and culture of the Ventura County by hosting events and exhibitions, they also preserve historic artifacts.
One of its collections which is recommended by many to see is the Fine art collection, this collection counts about 30,000 works and objects from various artists which includes the likes of Jessie Arms Botke, John Nava, Beatrice Wood, Omar DeLeon and more.
They also have works of art of historical figures made by George Stuart who is a celebrated historian. This makes what to do in Ventura fun for art lovers
Address: 100 E Main St, Ventura, California.
4. Ventura Pier and Promenade
One popular Ventura tourist place to visit is the Ventura Pier.
This is a symbol which tries to gives the memory of the thriving age of American Agriculture, the oil industry as well as the construction industry.
It is known to be built in 1872, and to this day, known among locals and tourists as a perfect place to admire the sunset and the oceans, also to go fishing as well as seeing the coastlines and channel Island.
This area has been renovated with time, it is currently designed to be about 1700 feet, Its construction has a beautiful design of wood and steel pilings, today it is known among the longest pier in California.
It has benches around to sit and have a good view of the ocean and a sand playground for kids, its panels says a lot about its history with photos and written information.
Both side of the pier lies in the San Buenaventura State Beach, this is a place to visit with loved ones and have a fun time in Ventura.
5. Ventura Botanical Gardens
Are you a lover of ornamental plants, a visit to the Ventura Botanical Gardens is perfect to give you the best day in Ventura, it is located behind the Ventura City Hall.
This garden is one that shows the stunning beauty of nature, In 2017 this area was among the places devastated by the popular Thomas Fire which caught a huge area of the city.
However, during these few years this institution is making its way towards its former glory with cultivating the original species of plants known to this garden.
A visit to this garden would have you walking through its hiking trails reaching the summit if its landscape which gives a good view of the ocean.
Do not forget to bring your camera along as you have quite a lot of beautiful memories of floras which is a place take a beautiful shot.
The landmark of this botanical garden made its way to the Serra Cross which not only gives you a good look at the ocean as well as the Grant Park.
Taking a walk to the Serra Cross will also give you a good look of the city, hence it is a perfect place to visit in Ventura.
Address: 567 South Poli Street, Ventura, California.
6. Visit Surfers Point Beach
Located next to Seaside Park is Surfers Point Beach which is a beach following the Ventura River, this river also formed a lagoon behind the beach which is the habitat of so many bird species.
Here is a good spot for surfers as they follow the curly waves from the beach riding towards the City’s Pier.
You will also find kite boarders as well as windsurfers who are known to pick up their show with the emergence of the wind.
West of it is the Emma Wood State Beach and east of here is the Promenade and the Seaside Park.
Visiting here is among the best things to do in Ventura with kids as they will love a picnic in this area.
Having a picnic here, you may decide to make use of one of the many picnic tables of this beach, you can as well decide to get your legs wet by walking in the water or having a swim.
7. Serra Cross Park
One of the many Ventura attractions you should see during your visit is the Serra Cross Park.
It was known that after building the Mission San Buenaventura, Junipero Serra walked the hills above this mission, blessing the land as he walked through.
He also made a wooden cross that he planted, this cross serve as a sign for those trying to know the location of the church.
Time saw to the destruction of this cross but after each destruction, it was always replaced by members of the community.
In 1918, 106 acres of land were donated by Kenneth and Tonie to the city which was converted to a park in this area in remembrance of this cross.
Over the years, the landscape has seen much improvement and is seen to be visited by many including locals and tourists.
Here you will also have a good spot to watch the sunset in the oceans while you enjoy the stunning view of the city.
8. Emma Wood State Beach
Would you like to go surfing or swimming, another place to visit for this is the Emma Wood State Beach.
This place is also popular among the local fishermen as it is a place to get cabezon, perch, corbina as well as bass.
Due to the activity around here, it have a lot of people coming here during the day hence a place to meet the locals.
The availability of fishes in this area is due to the Estuary formed by the Ventura River which makes here a feeding spot for fishes, it is also a habitat for some wildlife such as great blue herons, raccoons and songbirds.
Another animal you may meet during your exploration are dolphins as they swim offshore.
Bring your camera as you explore this park, you may also want to take pictures of ruins from WWII.
This exploration is one of the fun things to do in Ventura, this also gives you a view of Channel Island which is just lovely from this site.
Would you like to visit some of the best bars in California, do not miss this guide on the best bars in Long Beach for a fun time in this city
9. Rubicon Theatre Company
When you talk about entertainment in Ventura, the Rubicon Theatre Company is not left out.
They are well known for providing educative entertainment to locals and tourist through theater performance, special events, educative programs as well as their annual festival.
Rubicon Theatre has to their name more than 120 production which includes comedies, dramas and musicals.
They also hold after school programs which are aimed at educating students through events and programs.
This has gotten them lots of awards for their theater productions and service to the area of Ventura, you can catch their performance at their main stage which is at Main Street, downtown Ventura.
Address: 1006 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93001, 805-667-2900
10. Island Packers
Want to have the best vacation in Ventura, you have to add a trip with the Island Packers to your list of what to do in Ventura.
The Island Packers can give you a good tour throughout the Channel Island as they take you on their luxurious cruisers.
You can get to visit the five islands around Ventura to see the best plants and animals which will make your tour wonderful.
Their cruises range from day trips to camping on islands, camping can be perfect to allow you to get a good exploration of wildlife if you take fun at that.
Island packers are popularly known to give the best tours through the Channel Island since 1968, hence you won’t have to miss any detail about this Island going on this tour.
Address: 1691 Spinnaker Dr #105B, Ventura, California.
11. Ventura to Ojai Paved Bike Path
How would you like a bike exploration in Ventura?.
This is perfect for an evening exploration of this city and biking the paved Bike Paths, this is a very easy thing to do even without a masters grip on your bike.
You can ride to the city Ojai on a bike, this is a city with natural beauty and one dedicated to spirituality and healthy well being, giving it the nickname Shangri-La.
The Bike trail to this city from Ventura was designed on a railway line, as you ride on you would get to pass some industrial areas to meet Foster park towards the west, this creates a steep path which helps you get a good view of the city from the top.
Moving forward, you can decide to enter the Sulphur Road as the path branches here, this road seems steeper but you get to meet quite some nice views here, if you would not want to go down that road, you can continue to Ojai on this path.
Reaching your destination, take time to rest with a cold drink, also you could decide to do some sightseeing before taking a ride back.
12. Ventura Food Tours
Do you love good meals?, of course everyone loves a good meal, going on a food tour in Ventura can introduce you to some delicious meal you will fall in love with.
These food offerings ranges from Polynesian foods to delicious fish tacos, pastrami, Nepalese delights, biscuits and chocolates.
The Ventura Food tour activity could last more than three hours stopping at some of the best meal spots of Ventura.
Going on this tour would expose you to a lot about the city such as its beautiful architecture, bringing the best view of the city as you get your mouth busy.
Are you a in love with food or just feeling hungry, making a tour to get some good food in Ventura is one interesting Ventura activity.
All you just have to do is purchase a ticket and the Ventura Food Tour group will guide you through the best of Ventura delicacies. This is perfect to add to your list of what to do in Ventura.
13. Surf Brewery
If you are a beer lover, then you have to visit the tasting room of Surf Brewery, serving the best of beers in California, they also pride themselves as being the best in the world.
The decoration here sees the combination of surf and beers just like its name implies, you will find some famous surfboards hanging on the wall here, there are also TVs showing videos of people surfing.
Saturday is a perfect time to pay a visit to their tasting room as you will get to enjoy your drink with some cool live music.
If you will need food around here, you could get some in the food truck outside their building, you could also bring your food as you visit.
Address: 4561 Market St. Suite A, Ventura, California.
14. Lake Casitas Recreation Area
During your visit to Ventura, a good recreational spot to visit is Lake Casitas, this lake was created when the Casitas Dam was constructed and is today one of Ventura attractions.
You can come here with family members for camping as there are so many spots for camping around here such as among trees, on a hillside and lots more.
This is an excellent spot for hiking and biking as well, it is also a good place for kids to play and see some local wildlife.
The wilderness surrounding this recreational Area is home to mountain lions, deer, coyotes, raccoons, skunks and so many other wildlife.
If you enjoy golfing, you can also take on there challenging golf course, spending time in this recreational center is one of the fun things to do in Ventura on a weekend
Address: 11311 Santa Ana Rd, Ventura, California.
15. Lure Fish House
The Lure Fish House, is another place for some delicious meal in Ventura, here you get the freshly caught of the day, this brings the anticipation of not knowing what the menu will look like.
They also have a conducive atmosphere that features good lighting, a high ceiling, a lively arena and a stocked bar.
Getting a meal here can start your day, this will just get you fit to take up the day. You get the best of local and organic meals here, the wines included.
In the bar, you will be served some California wines and cocktails, you can always try out their recommended charbroiled fish.
Address: 60 S California St, Ventura, California.
16. Visit Four Brix Winery
Four Brix Winery, is located at the heart of Ventura and is known for their wine blends, this company meets the demand of Wine in this area, producing more than 2000 cases of wine in a year.
With wine blends that cut across several flavors, they have wines like Zeductive and Smitten, Scosso as well as Temptress and Rhondezvous.
A place not to miss during a visit is their tasting room where you get to identify the best wine blends for your taste.
You could look at attending one of their events which cuts across Concerts, Food Friday, Blend Parties, Pizza Nights and lots more.
Address: 2290 Eastman Ave # 109, Ventura, California.
17. Cafe Fiore
Would you like to get the best of Italian culture in Ventura, Cafe Fiore is the place for that.
With a perfect cozy environment that has a large space, high ceilings and beautifully placed chandeliers, this place is a place to get cozy and have a delicious meal.
Their Italian meals just like many others will get you wanting to have more, you can also order hand rolled pizzas, house made tortellaci and porchetta as you enjoy the live music in their Treehouse Lounge.
This is one place worth the visit in Ventura, and a good addition to your list of fun things to do in Ventura.
Address: 66 S California St, Ventura, California.
18. Pete’s Breakfast House Restaurant
Are you feeling in the mood for some fresh oranges or a nice breakfast, you can go to Pete’s Breakfast House Restaurant.
Known for serving the area with delicious meals, this diner is known by many in Ventura.
Here you can get some local eggs, baked biscuits, veggies and fruits, they also make corned beef from scratch which is way perfect than the canned one you know, just a taste will make you ask for more.
This Restaurant also has a welcoming diner which is designed for a cheerful feeling, when visiting Ventura this is a perfect spot for breakfast, you might just decide to skip lunch after having a meal here.
However, if you like to visit during the lunch period, they serve some specialties during this period.
Address: 2055 E Main St, Ventura, California.
19. Himalaya Restaurant
Himalaya Restaurant is a well-known place perfect to get India, Tibet and Nepal meals.
At this restaurant, you get to enjoy their menu of flavored dishes which are strongly influenced by Chinese and Indian delicacy.
Located on W. Main street, Himalaya is a charming restaurant and a nice place to go during your visit to Ventura.
Its walls are decorated with Nepalese and Tibetan artworks which leaves you enjoying your meal in the Nepalese culture.
They also have varieties of Indian dishes such as pakoras and naan spices with the best mix of spice and delicious yak meat.
This is a perfect spot to visit with love ones, if you are not used to the Himalaya way of life, its time to explore a new culture.
Address: 35 W Main St., Ventura, California.
20. Marina Park
Opposite the Ventura Harbor Village is the friendly park which is always sprawling with visitors.
A visit to this park is one of the unique things to do with kids in Ventura as they will have a lot of space to run around, you can decide to go fishing or watch the amazing Harbor view of this park.
Within this park, you can access Sotter’s Point through a trail which leads to the jetty, it is a perfect spot to watch boats coming from the ocean to Ventura Harbor.
21. Be Seen at Channels Islands National Park
The Channels Islands National Park is the best escape for the hassle of the mainland and a nice place to take your family.
Surrounded by the stunning view of the ocean, Channels island is what makes this island an attractive places.
Getting access to this Island from the mainland have quite some logistics attached to it, for start, you will need to board the ferry of the Island Packers, their departure point is the Ventura Harbor Village.
Channels islands comprise of five Islands which are the Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel Islands.
Anacapa Island is known for camping and hiking, you should take photographs here as it presents some beautiful views, whereas San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara is known to be the lesser activity Island.
Do make a good backpack before heading on this tour as there are no services offered in any of these islands.
To get detailed information about these islands, do pay a visit to the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, this will provide a perfect guide to explore these areas.
22. Historic Dudley House MuseumSince 1892, one historic place in Ventura and a perfect add to the top things to do in Ventura County is visit to the Dudley House Museum.
Preserved by the San Buenaventura Heritage Inc., this historic farmhouse is among the list of the 35 historic places in Ventura, a visit to this house will open you to a glimpse into the world of the Dudley family.
Towards the north section, you meet a place dedicated to outdoor events, you also get to see its gardens which features more than 100 different plants.
Taking a walk to the basement is a visitor center which has been designed to host both small events while larger events are done outside.
Planning your tour to the Dudley House, you should do well to plan towards the first Sunday of every month as this is when they are opened for tours, these are free tours starting from 1 pm to 4 pm, your donations will also be appreciated here.
23. Ventura Raceway
The Ventura Raceway is operated by Jim Naylor who designed these tracks and also takes the Job of a track announcer.
This is a track of about 1/5 mile located in the Ventura Fairgrounds, it is a place to watch high sprint cars speed the raceway as well as serve as a Driving school for sprint cars.
Ventura Raceway was also known to be a ground for motocross racing in the 1990s down to the 2000s, this race was known to be attended by many featuring both local and professional racers such as Randy Moody and Bobby Moore.
Today they host motorcycle events every month which brings some pro racers to this speedway.
You can take a trip to the Ventura Raceway and take a tour around, you can as well plan your trip to catch one of their events.
24. Eat Tacos at Spencer Makenzie’s Fish
Being identified as one of the best Fish Tacos in American is The Spencer Makenzie’s Fish, it is a place to get the best of fish and burrito in Ventura.
This is a nicely decorated restaurant that offers the best of homemade salsas and sauces, they also offer fish dishes as well as daily chowder.
When visiting this restaurant, do not miss to try out their shrimps and battered fish, these will make you to become a fan of this spot.
Address: 806 E Thompson Blvd, Ventura, California.
25. Olivas AdobeAnother addition to the historical places in Ventura is the Olivas Adobe which has been around since 1837.
This area was owned by Felipe Lorenzana and Don Raimundo Olivas after being granted about 4,000 acres of land for their military service to the Mexican republic.
Lorenzana however sold off his part whereas Olivas kept his and as Olivas family grew, this adobe was constructed.
Olivia’s Adobe is a two story adobe joined with other smaller adobe which is known to be housed by Olivas servants.
This adobe is a Spanish architectural design with a touch of Mexican culture, it was purchased by Ventura in the year 1963 and added as part of Ventura’s Park.
This Park features the exhibit, large gardens as well as renovated adobe buildings, Olivas Adobe is opened to the public from 10 am to 4 pm daily
Address: 4200 Olivas Park.
26. Old Creek Ranch & Winery
This is a 22,000 acre of land and its history goes way back to when it was purchased by Antonio Riva in 1906 which saw to the building of a winery on the property.
However, life was brought to this winery when it was managed by the Whitman Family in 1981, giving it the name Old Creek Ranch & Winery.
In 2015 this area also saw an overdo when being managed by The Holguin Family which saw to the working on its orchards, vineyard as well as the structural view of the ranch.
A visit to Old Creek Ranch & Winery can give you a relaxing time in its guest area, you can decide to have a picnic here with loved ones.
Other activities include playing the corn hole game, strolling its pathways and taking pictures of the beautiful Ojai Valley.
It’s a place to spend time and one of the wonderful stuff to do in Ventura.
27. The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor CenterAre you a tourist in Ventura and would like to get the best of your tour, a visit to The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center is a good place to start.
A visit here will provide you with the necessary guide through this city as well as souvenirs, if you have any question as related to your tour, here is where you get them answered.
This center has quite a lot to give, which includes exhibits of each island, a bookstore and a section which displays aquatic lives, head to the auditorium to watch the movie titled “A Treasure in the Sea,” which is quite fun.
You can visit this place any time of the week from 8:30 am to 5 pm, they are however closed during the Thanksgiving holiday and December 25th.
Address: 101 S California St, Ventura, CA 93001-2803
28. Leashless Brewing
This is a certified brewery company located in downtown Ventura, as you visit downtown Ventura to enjoy the fun activities it has to offer with regards to beaches, motels, hotels and lots more, do make time to enjoy some drinks at Leashless Brewing.
Here you get to enjoy the best of live music as well as meals from food truck, it is not a place known for dullness as you have something happening here daily, ranging from fundraisers to live music, events and artist showcase.
Address: 585 East Thompson Boulevard Ventura, CA 93001.
29. Antique Adventures LLC
Antique Adventures gives the best antique shopping experience you can get in Ventura, offering different kinds of antiques ranging from handcrafted items to modern and rustic furniture, they also offer consignments.
Take a trip through memory lane in this mall, owned by Chuck Ackerman who is a California native this store is a 10000 sq feet mall featuring collections from various vendors.
Head to this mall and pick items of interest to remember your visit to Ventura.
30. The Ventura County Wine Trail
How would you like to go on a wine tour in Ventura, this is possible with the Ventura County Wine Trail.
This tour features the best of Ventura wineries, hotels, restaurants, sailing, shopping and lots more which could be done on a trail.
Going on this tour is an amazing thing to do with a loved one on a vacation, this will introduce a beautiful place in Ventura.
Before a tour, Ventura County Wine Trail gives out a map of places this tour would cover, giving you highlights to some of the best places in the county.
With this map, planning a visit becomes easy as you will see completely new areas, get the best of entertainment and shopping as well as diners around.
This project is aimed at giving the best to tourists and it has been joined by Ventura, Ojai and Oxnard Convention and Visitors’ Bureaus.
Creating a wine getaway is one of the top things to do in Ventura and the Ventura County Wine Trail got you covered with the perfect guide.
Address: 3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard, CA 93030.
31. The Ventura Theatre
Just a few minutes walk from the Santa Barbara valley is the Ventura Theatre, this is one building you should not miss in Ventura.
Featuring the mission style architecture of the 1920s this place is for a fact one of the best place to visit in Ventura.
Inside the theater will give you a feeling close to the band as its great acoustic gives you the best music experience desired.
This place is home to some legendary musicians of different genres of music.
If you love the sound of good music, this is a nice addition to your checklist of cool things to do in Ventura.
Address: 26 South Chestnut St. Ventura, CA 93001.
32. Ventura City Hall
The Ventura City Hall is a historic landmark in Ventura you should not miss, this place was known to be built in 1912 and it was known to be the used as the County Courthouse.
Listed in the Register of historic places, the City Hall is known for its astonishing design which features a copper dome, Italian marble and a cotta exterior.
Today, this place hosts some of the notable events in the county, you can as well decide to tour the area to have a view of its remarkable architecture during your visit to Ventura.
Furthermore, if you will like to host an event in this area, you can consider the city hall, for this building is opened for rentals.
Plan a Trip to Ventura
Ventura California brings a wide range of activities for everyone, these activities cuts across several interests, most visitors loves visiting the San Buenaventura state beach and Ventura Pier, which presents the stunning view of the ocean.
You can meet nature at the Ventura Botanical Gardens as well as visiting its historical buildings to learn the history of this area.
Explore this list of things to do in Ventura County during your visit here, these will present a fun time during your stay here, also check with your travel agent to see some events in the area which will be worth your time during your visit.