Beloved for its strong arts scene, fresh farm-to-table fare, agricultural abundance, recreation options galore, and fantastic weather (how much better could it get than a year-round average daytime high of 70°F), Ventura is as charming as it is eclectic. Plus, it has its own soundtrack; a 2007 study found that Ventura offers the nation's fourth highest concentration of live music.
Ventura was once known as San Buenaventura, meaning "land of good fortune." Inhabitants have lived in present-day Ventura for at least 10,000 years, but Father Junipero Serra founded San Buenaventura in 1782 as his ninth and final mission. The City of San Buenaventura was incorporated in 1886 and an oil strike in 1914 led to the city's rapid growth. Today, Ventura has matured into a seaside community with a revitalized historic downtown, rich culture, and stunning natural beauty, particularly along its scenic coastline.
Many may argue that Ventura's star attraction is its miles of pristine beaches stretching from Surfer's Point to Ventura Harbor, and including surf breaks and miles of scenic bike paths. In fact, one of its bike paths, The Ventura River Parkway Trail is now recognized as a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service. Others may argue that Ventura's selling point is its beautiful historic downtown lined with palm trees, unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Or perhaps Ventura's heart and soul is found at the welcoming Ventura Harbor Village, a vibrant, working harbor village, and fishing marina where visitors can shop, dine, embark on cruises or rent watercrafts. Ventura's beaches, harbor village, and historic downtown all exemplify Ventura's laid-back, vintage California vibe.
Many of Ventura's most popular attractions and adventures focus on the area's natural beauty and outdoor recreation. The breathtaking Channel Islands National Park, which is made up of five remote islands and known as “The American Galapagos” for its unique plants and animals, sits off the Ventura coast and beckons visitors to hike nature trails, kayak, snorkel, and dive near sea caves, hidden coves, and rocky reefs, among many other adventures. Whale watching, fishing, and surfing expeditions are available year-round, as are winery and food tours, if eating and drinking your way through the area is more your kind of recreation. Ventura is quickly emerging as a strong player in California's Central Coast winegrowing region, and even has its own wine trail with approximately 20 wineries and tasting rooms spread throughout the County.
Speaking of food, Ventura's agricultural abundance and proximity to the ocean make it a fantastic spot for delicious farm- (or sea-) to-table fare. A sampling of some of its most beloved eateries include Cafe Fiore, which serves traditional rustic Italian cuisine with a rustic flair, as well as Peirano's, which serves New American and Mediterranean fare in a historic building across from the San Buenaventura Mission. Anacapa Brewing Company serves up handcrafted ales and lagers along with delicious eats, while Paradise Pantry is an eatery, artisan market, and wine bar rolled into one. Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar serves off-the-boat seafood selections, while the beachfront Aloha Steakhouse is known for its ocean views and contemporary menu of hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, and more.