Things To Do In Ventura
Ventura is a coastal city in Southern California, located between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Ventura is known for its beautiful beaches, thriving surf culture, and natural beauty. It’s also become a hotspot for wildlife lovers with its incredible biodiversity, including whales, dolphins, and seals all within walking distance of the shoreline. You’ll find plenty of adventures to take advantage of here too! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite things to do in Ventura County that will help bring out your explorer side:
Ojai Valley Trail
The Ojai Valley Trail is a great place to hike, with many trails in the area that offer different levels of difficulty. The trailhead is at the Ojai Valley Community Center, and it’s about 3.5 miles long. It’s open year-round and dogs are allowed on leashes only.
Climb the Reagan Library Steps
The Reagan Library Steps, located on Ronald Reagan Drive in Simi Valley, are a popular workout spot for locals and tourists alike. The steps are open to the public, but if you want to climb them you’ll need to check in at the front desk first. These stairs were named after former President Ronald Reagan in 2001—they’re now named after him as well as his wife Nancy.
Strand Brewing Company Brewery Tour
The Strand Brewing Company is one of Ventura’s oldest brewpubs. Founded in 1996 by a husband and wife team, they have been serving up their unique craft beers in a wide variety of styles ever since. The brewery tour includes a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process and a sampling of all their beers on tap.
Commune with nature at Emma Wood State Beach
The Emma Wood State Beach is a great place to hike, camp, and commune with nature. The beach is open year-round and has no lifeguards, but it’s dog friendly! There are beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean as well as wildlife like deer, foxes, and birds. The beach was named after Emma Wood who lived there in the late 1800s until her death at 101 years old. She was an avid hiker and loved spending time outdoors so much that she helped develop this area into what it is today!
Explore the Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands are an archipelago 51 miles off the coast of Ventura. They’re a national park and home to a variety of flora and fauna, including over 150 species of birds, such as peregrine falcons and brown pelicans. The islands were made famous by Jacques Cousteau’s research vessel Calypso in the 1970s—the “Calypso” has since been turned into a museum ship that you can tour if you head out there.
If you don’t have time to take a trip out there yourself, there are plenty of ways to explore this area from land: kayaking is popular on Santa Cruz Island; check out some sea caves at Santa Barbara Island; or snorkel with playful seals at San Miguel Island (you’ll need reservations).
Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area
Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area is a great place for hiking and camping. There are many trails to choose from, and they’re all easy to follow. The views are amazing, and the sunsets are spectacular. It’s also a good place to see wildlife; you might see bobcats or coyotes!
In general, Ventura is a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking. If you’re planning on visiting Ventura soon then make sure you take advantage of all these wonderful things to do in the area!
Mission San Buenaventura
Mission San Buenaventura was founded in 1782 by Father Junipero Serra. It is the oldest of the California missions and one of only four on which construction began before Father Serra’s death in 1784. In addition to being a beautiful example of Spanish Colonial architecture, Mission San Buenaventura also contains a museum with artifacts from its history as well as paintings that reflect life at the mission during its heyday.
Mission San Buenaventura is located in downtown Ventura across from City Hall (200 South Fir Street). The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, and Sunday from noon – 4:00 pm; admission fees vary depending on age group ($2 per person).
Pierpont Beach at Ventura Harbor Village
Pierpont Beach, located at Ventura Harbor Village, is a popular spot for surfing. The beach is also a great place to watch the sunset. There are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby if you want to grab something to eat or drink before heading home after your day out on the sand.
Santa Barbara Zoo – Natural Habitat Animal Adventure
Santa Barbara is a great place to visit with your family. The Santa Barbara Zoo is a great place to learn about animals and wildlife as they live in their natural habitat. You will see animals from all over the world. There are also many activities at the zoo that you can participate in such as guided tours, animal feedings, and animal encounters.
At the start of every hour, there is an informational video about a specific jungle or habitat so if you are interested in learning more about specific animals then this would be a great way for you to do so!
Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District Historical Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in Ventura, California is to take a self-guided walking tour of its Downtown Cultural District. This district was designated as such by the city council in 2013 and includes three distinct areas: the Ventura Riverfront, Downtown, and Old Town. The tour takes about an hour to complete and covers a total distance of about one mile.
The tour is free and self-guided; there are no guides or maps provided by the city (you can download them yourself). You can pick up brochures at several locations around town including visitor centers, local coffee shops,s and museums—but be sure to grab one before you start because there will be plenty more interesting information throughout your walk!
Whales, Dolphins, and Seals Boat Tour of the Channel Islands from Oxnard
This is a great way to see whales, dolphins, and seals in their natural habitat. Take the tour from Oxnard and enjoy views of Ventura’s Channel Islands National Park aboard a glass-bottom boat. The tour leaves from the Ventura Harbor Village, which is accessible by train from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. It’s good for all ages, but children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult (no strollers allowed).
Venture into a different cultural landscape at Mission San Buenaventura State Historic Park.
- The Mission San Buenaventura was founded by the Franciscan order in 1782 and is one of the best examples of Spanish colonial architecture in California.
- Open to the public, this historic site offers tours, a conference room, and museum exhibits.
- Located in downtown Ventura, it’s an easy walk from the beach or other downtown attractions.
Ventura Harbor Village is for a scenic stroll and eateries galore.
This seaside gem is a quaint and relaxing place to stroll. You can enjoy the salty breeze and take in the ocean views, or meander through the shops and restaurants lining its boardwalk. The best part? It’s just stepping away from Ventura Beach, so you can easily head on over for fun in the sand as well!
Wander along the winding trails of McGrath State Park.
This trail is a great place to hike through the redwood forest, get lost in nature, and enjoy a picnic lunch. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, try the Stairway To Heaven Trail which climbs to the top of Ben Lomond Mountain. Many trails lead around and through the park—use our interactive map above to find one that suits your needs.
When you’re done hiking and enjoying nature at McGrath State Park, stop by The Farm of Stowaway Spirits Distillery for an afternoon cocktail! This family-owned distillery offers beer flights as well as cocktails using their craft vodka or gin. Their taproom has live music every weekend so be sure not to miss out on some local entertainment while visiting Ventura County’s best-kept secret!
Hike through the Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area.
Hiking is an excellent way to get some fresh air and exercise, while also enjoying some of the beautiful scenery Ventura has to offer. The Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area is a great place for hiking, with many trails including a section of the California Coastal Trail (which stretches from Oregon to Mexico), as well as several shorter trails that lead through different sections of this area. It’s also home to many endangered species such as mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, and more!
Learn the art of surfcasting and more at Surfer’s Point, one of the best places to surf in California.
Learn the art of surfcasting and more at Surfer’s Point, one of the best places to surf in California.
When it comes to learning how to fish, Surfer’s Point has you covered with classes that teach everything from fly-fishing techniques and bait fishing to casting for salmon and trout. Teens can take advantage of free student lessons too—and their parents get 10% off their purchases when they show proof that they are under 18 years old!
Surfer’s Point also offers guided tours for those who want extra instruction as well as small group classes for smaller groups who want hands-on attention from an instructor. They even offer classes on stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
Get up close and personal with some of nature’s most majestic creatures on an island adventure.
You can get up close and personal with some of nature’s most majestic creatures on an island adventure. Explore the Channel Islands National Park and see seals, sea lions, and whales. Take a whale-watching tour from Ventura Harbor or go on a hike to the top of Anacapa Island to see the remains of an ancient civilization.
Spend some time at Ventura’s Museum of History and Art.
Ventura’s Museum of History and Art is located in the Ventura County Government Center, which also houses several other museums, including the Aerospace Museum and the Aerospace Discovery Center. The museum has a collection of over 300,000 objects that span thousands of years and represent many different cultures. It contains everything from stuffed animals to fine art paintings, but its most notable exhibits are those dedicated to local history and art. These include:
- A permanent display of Ventura’s history from prehistory through today
- An exhibit featuring works by artists who have lived in or visited Ventura
- Changing exhibits on local culture
There is so much to do in Ventura that you might have to come back again and again!
Ventura is a town that you can visit and do it all in one visit. You may even have to come back again and again as there is so much to do and take in that you might have to come back again and again.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about all of these great places to visit in Ventura. If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration on things to do in Ventura, be sure to check out our other articles.