Set at the base of the Transverse Range of mountains in Southern California, Ventura looks out to a series of eastwest trending mountain ranges that extend from Point Conception at the western tip of Santa Barbara County, eastward to the east end of the San Jacinto Mountains in western Riverside County. The Santa Ynez Mountains make up the westernmost ranges, extending from Point Conception to the Ventura River just west-northwest of Ojai, in Ventura County. The City of Ventura enjoys Southern California coastal climate with pleasant days year-round, though the county itself has more micro-climates than nearly any other place in the United States.
Located in Ventura County along the California coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties, Ventura is technically considered part of the California Central Coast, though Southern California equally likes to claim Ventura as its own. Who wouldn't love a beautiful beach setting framed by lush mountains and a series of islands mesmerizingly calling offshore?
This jewel is steeped in history, which is part of its allure. Museums and historic buildings downtown include the San Buenaventura Mission, old storefronts historically maintained with new shops and restaurants inside, the Ventura County Courthouse that provided inspiration for Earl Stanley Gardner's "Perry Mason" crime novels, Museum of Ventura County, and of course, the resident ghosts around town.
Among the hotels with their own histories and stores are the Pierpont Inn, visited by famous people in its nearly 100-year history, and a downtown Ventura favorite, the haunted Bella Maggiore Inn. The most famous ghost there is a woman who you can detect by a whiff of fragrance. One guest swore it wasn't his girlfriend touching his leg at night! He was a bit surprised.
Another must-see place for those who love history and a few ghost stories is the Alivos Adobe, an 1847 Hacienda of Rancho San Miguel Home of Raymundo Olivas. Listed as California Historical Site 115, the Rancho Period of California comes to life at this immaculately restored, yet authentic place. Location: 4200 Olivas Park Drive Ventura, CA 93003. Call: olivasadobe.org
Ventura offers a getaway with history, intrigue, quality dining, shopping, and hotels that have their very own stories to enjoy.
In addition to the city aspects of Ventura, the beaches are an attraction for surfers, swimmers, campers and sunbathers, and the beautiful Ventura Pier offers an anchor to the coast, allowing you to wander, then make a toast from the 2nd story cocktail bar at the pier restaurant patio.
The Ventura Harbor is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park that includes a national marine sanctuary. Boat tours depart daily visiting four of the islands (islandpackers.com) and are worth an extra day's stay to see. Each island trip takes nearly a day to complete, and camping is permitted on some islands by permit, though the conditions are bare-bones. There are no fires allowed, no food concessions on the islands, and everything you have must be self-contained.
Ventura is also somewhat of an art colony. With its rustic charms set at the foot of the mountains, artists find the local color provides inspiration for works of art. One active plein aire group meets weekly and paints the scenery on nearby farms, at the beach, or wherever their eyes take them.
Ventura County Fairgrounds, billed as the only fairgrounds at the beach, hosts the Ventura County Fair, gem shows, and many events throughout the year, including weekly swapmeets. venturacountyfair.org
There is so much to see and do in Ventura, that you need to return time after time as a visitor to enjoy all that it has to offer.