Reader Kathie is coming to visit my town and asked for recommendations on what to do. I'm happy to oblige, since I love this place. If you need to stretch your legs, park down by City Hall and take an uphill hike for about 15 minutes to Grant Park also known as Serra Cross Park also known as The Cross. Be careful - there are no sidewalks and it is pretty steep in spots, but the view is great: Serra Cross Park
Or if you're in the mood for a flatter walk, bike, or rollerblade, park at Surfer's Point ($2, closes at sunset), and walk first right to overlook Ventura River, then left to the pier. Yes, people still DO rollerblade Slackline along the promenade
Once you get to the pier, you should stop and have some delicious fresh, lovingly made food at Beach House Tacos. Or at least a local craft beer. Beach House for tacos, salads, craft beer and wine There's another, fancier place on the pier, too, which is also nice, but about 4 times the price, and Beach House food is just great. Another lovely spot to stop is the bar at the Crowne Plaza hotel, where you can sit out along the boardwalk and have a nice drink.
Head over across town to Ventura Harbor, where there is always something going on. During the day, there is shopping, art shows, music, an arcade, peddle boats, boat tours... Ventura harbor at sunset And at night there is more music, a comedy club, sunset tours, etc. The best spot for food, if you love that fish and chips/clam chowder beach kinda thing, is Andria's, which is over by the fish processing plant. Look for the long line.
There's a great secret picnic spot at the Harbor, too, if you don't mind a rustic table: Secret picnic spot, Ventura Harbor Go to the Channel Islands Visitors Center. Facing the doors, walk left through the employee parking lot and look for a little path through the trees. This table is back there, right on the water.
Downtown Ventura on Main Street is fun for shopping and eating. My favorite store is We Olive, where a friendly staff will let you sample hundreds of kinds of gourmet foods and olive oils. We Olive, near Main and Palm Streets, is a must-stop. That's Perry behind the counter
Downtown also has plenty of wine tasting opportunities, a movie theater, a music venue (The Majestic Ventura Theatre), and an improv comedy troupe that performs in shows ranging from hilarious to awful on Friday and Saturday nights. Best music spots are Cafe Fiore, Zoey's, the Watermark, Peirano's...oh, just walk around. You'll hear it.
My favorite restaurant in Ventura is, of course, Cuernavaca, at Ventura Avenue and Flint Streets. You'll get a chance to see my insane neighborhood and two people can get food for way under $20. Get the tacos al pastor if you eat pork. If you don't, they have 3 awesome vegetarian tacos on the menu - chile and cheese; chile, potato and cheese; and mushroom and cheese. Not to miss.
Hope this helps. Have fun, Kathie!