Warm sand, fish tacos, palms, piers and surf; it's everything we're dreaming about on a California getaway. The stuff of SoCal dreams is hardly a secret, so where can Canadian Travellers escape Cali's queues and crowds? Cast a glance just north of Los Angeles to trade pop stars for celestial stars. If a surf side vacation is what you're after, find it in abundance on the blissed-out Ventura County Coast. Plus, with inviting weather and natural beauty, passing time is as extravagant - or thrifty - as you want it to be.
Ventura County Coast
Go for the charm, stay for the good vibes
Nestled between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the Ventura County Coast brags outdoor adventure, eclectic art, historic buildings and a carefree surf scene. But what the area really boasts is authentic coastal charm. Cruise through palm-lined neighborhoods with picture-perfect curb appeal. Admire the glorious Spanish architecture of the Mission San Buenaventura, built over 200 years ago. Find Mexican influence in the Olivas Adobe en route to historic Rancho San Miguel. You may even spot the odd wood-paneled vintage station wagon, complete with a surfboard sitting atop the roof. This charming coast is quintessential California.
You've gotta see this!
What to see on the Ventura County Coast
Stephan Schafer, Ventura County Coast
Worry not, this culturally rich county is brimming with things to see and do, both on and offshore.
Ventura Harbor Village is the perfect spot to start the day. Secure a boat rental, shop boutiques and galleries, or board an excursion to Channel Islands National Park. Walk or bike along the Ventura Promenade or set out along the Ventura River Trail which takes cyclists and pedestrians all the way to Ojai.
Brent Durand 2016 - brentdurand.com for VisitVentura.com
While the Channel Islands are gorgeous to gaze at from the shore, they are even better to visit in person. Take in a sightseeing excursion or explore the shores in a kayak.
Ventura County Coast
Most people don’t realize that about a third of the world’s cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) can be found in the Santa Barbara Channel. (What? You didn't think you were the only creature to take a liking to swimming California's waters, did you?) Whale-watching expeditions to the Channel Islands spot cetaceans year round. Dolphins ply the waters in every season, gray whales are seen from December through March, and summer finds humpback and blue whales frolicking offshore. Boats aren’t permitted to get any closer than 55 metres, although the whales aren’t held to these restrictions and they have been known to get extremely close to the hull. Some of these whales fall on the endangered species list so it's important to respect and protect them.
The un-boring county
What to do on the Ventura County Coast
©Kamilo Bustamante for VisitVentura.com
In the mood to lay out?
Hueneme Beach Park is the perfect spot to spend a day relaxing under the California sun. The south-facing beach stretches just over 1.5 kilometres and is anchored by the Point Hueneme Lighthouse. The park offers 50 acres of walking paths and water access. Picnic tables and barbecue pits provide comfortable places to enjoy a meal while watching the surfers deftly navigate the waves. Summer’s end is marked by the Toni Young Hueneme Beach Festival which is packed with food vendors, live music, shopping and plenty of rides for the smaller visitors. The popular sand sculpting contest is back and as always, the music runs practically non-stop throughout the weekend.
Take part in a Saturday morning ritual
If you’re visiting on a Saturday we suggest perusing the local farmers’ market, held on the Ventura Boulevard. Pick up a lunch of fresh fruit and artisan pastries before staking out a spot with a view of the water. Top off lunch with a glass of local wine and then head out to explore the rest of the Ventura County Coast.
Ventura County Coast
Shop where the locals shop
When in California, dress the part! Deal-savvy shoppers in the county flock to Camarillo Premium Outlets for trendy bargains. Clothes, shoes, jewelry and more can all be scooped in one shopping trip. Find brands Canadians love scoring deals on: Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and J. Crew. Get the goods you love at prices you'll love even more.
You have to try this!
Eat & Drink: dine close to the source
Tiera Sur, Herzog Wine Cellars - Ventura County Coast
Food ought to be at the top of the list given the number of farm-to-fork restaurants in the county. You don’t have to look far to find organic, locavore restaurants serving fresh seafood with produce straight from the farm. These culinary values prevail throughout the county's restaurants, in both traditional and inventive fare. Local foodies will point out that California was doing farm-to-fork long before the term was phrased.
Paradise Pantry shot by ©kamilo_bustmante for VisitVentura
It would be criminal not to make mention of the Ventura County Wine Trail. Start in Oxnard and visit the three excellent wineries nearby. Rancho Ventavo Cellars offers tastings in a charming Victorian home built in 1902. The winery produces exceptional reds and two different tasting flights are offered each month. Herzog Wine Cellars creates artisan wines using state of the art technology, while family-owned Magnavino Cellars produces reds and whites that will delight novice and connoisseur palates.
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