I have to admit that I’ve been to Ventura, CA, about a million times. My grandparents live in this quaint beach city. But, I’ve always thought of Ventura as my second home, and how wonderful a place it can be for families visiting from our of town. Even if you live in Los Angeles or farther away in Orange County, CA, it is a great day trip that has many options for families of all ages. So, if you’re in the mood for a venture up the California Coast, here are a few must-sees in the City of Ventura, CA.
Adults will love the antique and thrift shops. Literally it’s a mecca for decorators. But there’s also stuff for the kids – sweet bookstores with plenty of spots to curl up with a book, toy shops with friendly owners who actually welcome little hands touching, and bake shops that love giving out free samples.
Hungry? Stop by the historic Busy Bee café for fifties style diner food that’s amp’d up enough for discerning taste buds. It’s totally affordable and you’ll love the kids menu. Bigger plates are ample enough to share. Breakfast is served all day, so go ahead and get a short stack and a shake to go with it.
As you drive up California Street towards the San Buena Ventura Mission, stop and visit the Fr. Serra statue. Religious or not, he’s responsible for dotting the California coast with 24 missions – all interesting in their own right. Plus the view from the top of the hill cannot be beat. You can see the entire coast line and almost make out the surfers our on the water. Oh, wait, maybe their harbor seals. Anyway, it’s a great look out point. The interior of the Mission boasts restored beamed ceilings, classical stained glass, and California style frescos and adobe inspired architecture. Visit the small museum adjacent to the mission for a great history lesson on the Chumash Indians who used to inhabit the area.
This is one historic pier! It was built in 1872. But don’t worry about walking across it. It went through a multimillion-dollar renovation in 1993, so the thing is safer than most piers you’ll walk on in your life. On a clear day, you can see all the Channel Islands, including Catalina. If you work up an appetite stop by one of the Pier side restaurants for a great view and fresh seafood.
Strap on your roller blades, hop on your bike, or rent a quad cycle that is perfect for a family of four. The Ventura Promenade is the perfect place for a day in the sun. If you want a less strenuous adventure, simply take a stroll and take in the local art galleries while sipping homemade lemonade from a local stand. Stop along the way to catch a pod of dolphins or a flock of pelicans. Both are common sites along the beach. If you’re looking to stay the night, the Ventura Best Western offers affordable room rates and a free continental breakfast.
All photos courtesy of the City of Ventura, and the Ventura visitor’s bureau.