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VENTURA: NORTH AMERICA'S GALÁPAGOS
 
(2016 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: JILL K. ROBINSON



The original name of this California city, San Buenaventura, labels it as a city of good fortune. And Ventura, with its beautiful beach setting framed by mountains and the Channel Islands National Park, does indeed make you feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a bit of good fortune in finding this scenic spot along California’s Central Coast.

Start with your toes in the surf, because Ventura’s miles of beaches stretching from Surfer’s Point to Ventura Harbor are one of the city’s star attractions. Take a long walk, lounge in the sun or grab a board and enjoy the water yourself. The south-facing waterfront and breaks along the beaches are essential qualities that lure surfers from far and wide, so you owe it to yourself to either try it out or settle down to watch a few surf sessions.

Another reminder of how much the Pacific Ocean figures into the daily life of Ventura is found at Ventura Harbor Village. Wander through the boutiques for that perfect souvenir, or score an outdoor table overlooking the ocean to enjoy a meal of fresh, local seafood and wine. The harbour arcade, carousel and ice cream shop will easily figure into a child’s dream list.

Channel Islands Adventures

Adventures abound at the Ventura Harbor Village—from kayak and stand-up paddle-board rentals in the harbour to whale-watching trips and boat trips to the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. Also known as North America’s Galápagos, this string of five islands and its surrounding waters is home to an abundance of wildlife, including whales, dolphins, foxes and even bald eagles. Hike along miles of trails to enjoy the spectacular views of the islands’ rugged beauty, or take advantage of the various water-based activities and snorkel, dive or kayak in island sea caves.

The Channel Islands National Park is also known as an important breeding and resting area for a variety of seabirds. Back on the mainland, birders have more opportunities to view feathered friends. With a varied elevation ranging from sea level to 2,692 metres at the summit of Mount Pinos, the area is rich with bird life. Up to 457 bird species have been recorded in the county, which includes globally important bird areas such as Mugu Lagoon and the Los Padres National Forest.

What’s Cooking Downtown

Early California history has a special place in Ventura’s historic downtown cultural district, which began as Father Junipero Serra’s final mission settlement. Meander through downtown to see Mission San Buenaventura and the historic homes, museums, boutiques, antique shops and restaurants that dot the palm-tree-lined streets. With a wealth of family-owned stores, cultural arts and a thriving music and foodie scene, the downtown area is an ideal base for visitors. Tour along, using the free trolley that runs between downtown and Ventura Harbor Village, stopping at major attractions and most major hotels.

Wine lovers can easily duck into a downtown wine bar to taste the best of California’s Central Coast, which is recognized as one of the world’s leading wine-growing regions.

 If you want to experience the winemaking process, stop by the Ventura Visitors Center to learn about the wineries you can visit on your own or on an organized tour, like the Sip & Savor Wine Tour, which features some of Ventura’s wine-tasting rooms.

Ventura’s thriving music scene showcases more than 35 venues offering live music, along with dozens of special events and festivals annually. On nearly any day of the year, you can check out local bands, solo artists and musicians who play just about every genre of music—and you never know who will be sitting in with the band.

Travel Planner

Explore all Ventura has to offer at visitventuraca.com.

 
 
 
 
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