Download GPX file for this article
34.275000-119.227778Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ventura is a city of 111,000 people (2020) in Ventura County, a region of California's Central Coast. Ventura mixes old charm with new modern facilities to blend a rich and wonderful background to living.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches
Metric conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm

Ventura, still officially called San Buenaventura, was founded in 1782 by Fray Junipero Serra with the establishment of his mission.

Along Main Street you will find fabulous food, excellent shopping from thrift stores to upscale boutiques, a movie theater, coffee shops, and other attractions. Turn the corner at Main Street and head up Ventura Avenue and you are on the Westside. The Westside is an up-and-coming area of Ventura with a rich cultural history.

Note the iron bells every few miles on the 101 freeway. They are markers of El Camino Real, the route of Father Serra.

Get in[edit]

Ventura is 68 miles (110 km) north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA) on the US Highway 101. Nearby Oxnard sports both a cruise ship port and an airport with connecting flights to LAX. Santa Barbara Airport can be a good alternative to LAX or Oxnard with flights to LAX, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix as well as other destinations and it is only about 30-40 minutes away up the breathtaking 101. Camarillo Airport is a dominant general aviation hub, though Oxnard and Santa Barbara take their share as well.

Amtrak serves the city with its Pacific Surfliner, the train stops at 1 Ventura station in downtown Ventura multiple times a day on its San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles-San Diego route. Additionally, Metrolink has a commuter service from Los Angeles to 2 East Ventura station, located in the Montalvo neighbourhood.

Get around[edit]

  • Gold Coast Transit, +1 805-487-4222. This bus system provides impressive transportation coverage across the city of Ventura as well as the neighboring cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

California Highway 126, California Highway 33, and US Highway 101 also connect Ventura well, providing a good inner city freeway/motorway network for a city of its size.


Museum of Ventura County
  • 1 Mission San Buenaventura, 211 E. Main St (on Main Street in the heart of old town Ventura. Exit US 101 north at California Street.), +1 805-643-4318, fax: +1 805 643-7831. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 10AM-4PM, except for major holidays.. Founded in 1782, it was the ninth and last California mission established by Father Serra. Church services, funerals, and weddings are still performed at the mission today. It was one of the most successfully irrigated of the missions, leading to plentiful orchards and vineyards. An original well stands in the back of the church, and a school for children is attached to the side. The Old Mission welcomes visitors daily from sunrise until sunset. $2. Mission San Buenaventura (Q12061890) on Wikidata Mission San Buenaventura on Wikipedia
  • 2 Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St.. Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. Collections include Chumash and other native American artefacts. $4.
  • 3 Bell Arts Factory, 432 N. Ventura Ave. Created out of a historic mattress factory showroom in the Westside of Ventura. There are free children's programs that enhance young lives through the arts and provide a cultural revitalization of the Westside. There are also many talented resident artists in studios creating beautiful paintings, jewelry, sculptures, weavings, photographs and ceramics.
  • 4 Olivas Adobe, Olivas Adobe Historical Parkmore info 4200 Olivas Park Dr, +1 805-658-4728. A 160-year-old adobe-style house with historical ties. The Adobe is rumored to be haunted. Tours are available.
  • 5 Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street #109, +1 805-654-7800. Ventura's striking neoclassical city hall building overlooks Main street and an array of boutique shops, just blocks from the beach.


Fishermen's memorial in Ventura

Being a beach town, Ventura has developed the downtown beach area into a wonderful promenade that makes its way along the beach, from "Surfer's Point" past the pier all the way down to the southern end of San Buenaventura State Beach. It makes for a nice jog, bike ride, roller-blading path or just a leisurely stroll to watch the sunset.

Ventura Beach
  • Surfing. You can visit spitcast to get the latest surf forecast.
  • 1 Miniature Golf N'Stuff. - located in Ventura
  • Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St, +1 805-667-2900. The only regional professional live theatre in Ventura County. Rubicon Theatre Company in its ten year history has been the host to many stars of screen and stage including Susan Clark, Jack Lemmon, Ted Neeley, John Ritter, Linda Purl, Bruce Weitz, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The Rubicon Theatre Company has enriched the city of Ventura with world-class performances as well as community enrichment.
  • International Book City - in mid 2006, Ventura declared itself an International Book City. The city is home to more independent bookstores than any other city in Ventura County; two publishing houses; and Perry Mason, the famous fictional lawyer created in the 1930s by writer Erle Stanley Gardner, who lived and worked here.
  • E.P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main St. (Near the corner of Chestnut and Main St.), +1 805-648-2715. The E.P. Foster library has 24 public computers and features an extensive collection of "how to" art books. Ventura is also an art community and the library hosts permanent and rotating art collections by local artists. Families will enjoy visiting the second floor which is being transformed into a Children and Teen library.


The Pacific View Mall and surrounding area (located about 3–5 miles (5-8 km) southeast of old town Ventura, toward Oxnard) tends to be the shopping hub for the locals while tourists will appreciate the kitsch and variety of Old Town. Still, serious shopaholics are better off in Camarillo at the Camarillo Premium Outlets or in Thousand Oaks at The Oaks.

  • Ventura has a hidden gem in the music/alternative mecca known as Salzer's which is on Victoria near Oxnard and Montalvo. The store is split into two factions: Music and Video which oddly enough are located in separate buildings on either side of Victoria.
  • Thrift Stores! Main street (near California street intersection) has a great selection of thrift and antique stores. Many really great finds can be found if you are willing to look through some junk.


  • Winchesters Bar and Grill. At the other end of old town. They have a large beer selection, and fabulous food! Quite a pickup joint, second only to Table 13.
  • Busy Bee Cafe. This campy 1950s style diner on Main has become a Ventura landmark. Pop in for a root beer float, raspberry-lime rickey, hot fudge sundae or one of many classic American food favorites.
  • Johnny's. On the Westside, at 176 N. Ventura Ave., just around the corner from Main Street. A Mexican food institution in Ventura. Try their famous shredded beef burritos prepared "three way"—meaning with beans, rice, and cheese!
  • Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill, 4960 Telephone Rd, +1 805-339-9600. Daily 11AM to 9PM. Good quality, fresh Mexican food.
  • The Sushi House, 1127 S Seaward Ave, +1 805-643-5550. Small restaurant near the beach that serves up very fresh, tasty sushi.
  • Tony's Pizza. This is the best little pizza shack in town. It's perfect after surfing or hanging out at the beach. Also, the guy there will talk to you like he's known you for years. The pizza is thin crust style, and is very good.
  • Toppers Pizza. The best local pizza restaurant in town. Great for the family. Voted the best pizza two years consecutively by Ventura County Readers Poll. Big televisions and great salad bar.
  • Taj Cafe, 574 E Main St, +1 805-652-1521. One of the best Indian restaurants in Ventura. Dinner will set you back about 20 dollars a person.


Overall, Ventura is a great place for easy-going party people. Many restaurants have terrific happy hour specials daily with both food and drinks at remarkably low prices. This makes it easy to grab an early meal or make plans with friends.

San Souci is the local dive where young and old alike go.

The local gay bar has the unlikely name of Paddy's, so don't be fooled into thinking it's an Irish pub. Friendly atmosphere and reasonable prices.


Go next[edit]

As with the route into this fine beach city, there are a number of options when it is time to leave. Southbound Highway 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway are both great options if you are headed south to another destination or to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Northbound Highway 101 will take you up to Santa Barbara and on through San Luis Obispo on the way to San Francisco. To head east, just jump on Highway 126 which leads through the citrus-rich Santa Clara Valley to the small towns of Santa Paula and Fillmore on the way to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

  • Ojai - Located inland 22 miles from Ventura, Ojai is a popular weekend getaway for Southern California residents, offering wine tasting, art galleries, hiking, horseback riding, spas, and a rustic environment for those looking to escape the big cities.
  • Santa Paula - 12 miles northeast of Ventura, Santa Paula advertises itself as the "Citrus Capital of the World" and was an early center of California's petroleum industry. It is home to the California Oil Museum, housed in the historic Union Oil Building.
  • Carpinteria - This small oceanside town is located 23 miles northwest of Ventura and offers a salt marsh preserve, tide pools, and a seal and sea lion rookery that is active from December through May. During the first weekend in October Carpinteria plays host to nearly 100,000 visitors at its annual avocado festival, which features the world's largest vat of guacamole.
  • Channel Islands National Park - The Ventura harbor is the departure point for most excursions to the Channel Islands National Park, a series of islands that are home to incredible marine life, beautiful and remote scenery, and the wily Channel Islands fox.
Routes through Ventura
Santa BarbaraCarpinteria  N  S  OxnardLos Angeles / Long Beach
CoalingaOjai  N  S  Ends at
Ends at  W  E  Santa PaulaValencia
Ends at  W  E  Simi ValleyNorth Valley
Santa BarbaraCarpinteria  N  S  OxnardLos Angeles

This city travel guide to Ventura has guide status. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions and travel details. Please contribute and help us make it a star!