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Visiting Ventura – what to do

August 2, 2012

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
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

Balancing...or not
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, Saturday evening, Ventura Pier
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 sunset
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:
Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center
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.
Many many 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!

  1. August 2, 2012 16:07

    I love the thrift shops on Main St.

    • August 4, 2012 15:58

      Me too. And now we have a great one on Ventura Ave., the Boys and Girls Club. It is run by SUCH nice people. They even have a couple stages in case bands stop by, which sometimes they do.

  2. August 2, 2012 22:38

    Thanks, Sue! This is way more than I hoped for! I’m saving this in my travel file right now. Your love of Ventura always shows in your writing, and I do thank you for sharing. Can’t wait! 14 days and counting! If we run into you and Goldie on the beach, I’m definitely coming up to you to say hi. 🙂

    • August 4, 2012 15:58

      I didn’t even get to Ojai yet! Or mention my top 3 favorite wine bars. Or or or…

      I’ll email you my phone. Maybe we can have coffee or a glass of wine.

      • August 16, 2012 23:39

        Just came back to print this post out and saw your last comment – haven’t seen an email, but if you are so inclined I think that could be fun! In a nervous, I’ve never done this kinda way. 🙂 We leave tomorrow!

        (I swear it makes me change my wordpress password every stinkin’ time! I’m switching to facebook)

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