Ventura Travel Guide 2021

2021 Ventura Visitors Guide

Ventura, California, once named Mission San Buenaventura (good fortune) was the most successful and influential of the California Missions founded by Father Junipero Serra in the early 1800s. Several years passed and post-Civil War settlers arrived and began to buy land from the Mexicans or simply squat on property. One of the prominent landowners from the East was a railroad employee named Thomas R. Bard, who had been in charge of train supplies to Union Troops. Bard is often regarded as the Father of Ventura and his descendants have been prominently identified with the growth of Ventura County. The Union Oil Company was organized with Bard as President in 1890 and has offices in Santa Paula. The main Ventura oil field was drilled in 1914 and at its peak produced 90,000 barrels a day.

Ventura Vacations
Ventura Beach at sunset

Other than this original land rush, Ventura has escaped the thrust of immigrating people and has been able to enjoy its own more leisurely, less crowded way of life. At the same time, Ventura became prosperous in its enviable location between two richly endowed valleys, the Ventura River and the Santa Clara River. It is here that citrus grew better than anywhere else in the state and growers along these rivers eventually formed Sunkist, the world’s largest organization of citrus production.

Ventura was not to remain isolated much longer with the completion of the Ventura Freeway from Los Angeles to Ventura in 1969. Ventura has grown steadily ever since and has reached a population of approximately 102,000.

Today Ventura, the getaway to the Channel Islands National Park, is a classic Southern California beach town offering the services and amenities appreciated by residents and tourists alike. Ventura is accessible via U.S. Highway 101, California State Route 33, and California State Route 126. Transportation is overseen by the Ventura County Transportation Commission which monitors local bus service as well as Greyhound Bus travel. Train service is available through Amtrak and Southern California Metrolink. Air travel is accommodated through the Ventura County Department of Airports, Los Angeles International Airport and the Santa Barbara Airport.

  • Population: 101,916
  • Median Household Income: $52,298
  • Median Family Income: $60,466
  • Per Capita Income: $25,065
  • Latitude: 3416’30” North
  • Longitude: 11913’40” West
  • Ventura is on Pacific Standard Time and observes Daylight Savings Time.

Ventura Attractions

Santa Barbara Zoo
The Santa Barbara Zoo is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of the natural world and its living treasures through education, research, and recreation. Take a Guided Tour or explore on your own. Visits include a personalized, interactive tour of our collection, lots of information and animal facts, answers to animal questions, and may even involve your very own animal encounter! Choose an established, age-appropriate tour or work with our staff to develop your own unique experience.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
With beautiful vistas, unique California native plant exhibits in beautifully designed landscapes, nature trails, educational opportunities, and historic landmarks, The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to spend the day and learn about the conservation, history, and stewardship of California’s natural beauty.

Mission San Buenaventura
Founded in 1782, Mission San Buenaventura, was ninth of California’s 21 missions and the last to be established by Father Junipero Serra. Destroyed by fire in the 1790s, the church was rebuilt over a period of a dozen years and rededicated in 1809. Self-guided tours allow visitors to browse through the small museum and admire the quiet courtyard with its stately star pines. Of special interest are the statues of saints situated throughout the mission and the 250-year-old paintings of the Stations of the Cross, which have been in the chapel since its rededication.

Olivas Adobe
Raymundo Olivas, recipient of a land-grant rancho from Mexican governor, Juan Alvarado, built the Olivas Adobe which became a social hub of the Santa Clara River Valley in 1847. The restored two-story main house has its own chapel, a display of Olivas family photographs in the parlor, and period furnishings in the other rooms. Weddings are often held on the grounds, which include a garden of 100-year-old fuchsia and a grape arbor dating from the early California mission period. Ultimately, the city of Ventura received the adobe and a large land parcel from philanthropist, Max Fleischman, of yeast and margarine fame.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
As a Presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Ronald Reagan Library is the repository of presidential records for President Reagan’s administration. The holdings include 50 million pages of presidential documents, over 1.6 million photographs, a half million feet of motion picture film and tens of thousands of audio and videotapes. Additionally, the Library houses personal papers and collections including documents from Reagan’s eight years as governor of California.

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Known worldwide as a thrill ride haven, Six Flags Magic Mountain features 16 world-class roller coasters and over 100 rides, games, and attractions for the entire family. Join Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang along with hosts of other characters throughout the park and performing at the many exciting shows and scheduled events.

Ventura Recreation

Channel Islands National Park
Comprised of five islands in a chain of eight southern California islands near Los Angeles, Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of nationally and internationally significant natural and cultural resources. Over 2,000 species of plants and animals live here but only four mammals are residents. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world. Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal to live on earth. The park consists of almost 250,000 acres, half of which are under the ocean, and include the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara. Even though the islands seem tantalizingly close to the densely populated, southern California coast, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped, making them an exciting place for visitors to explore.

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Ventura Harbor Village
Escape from the ordinary with a day trip to the Ventura Harbor Village where entertainment lasts all day—from a relaxing morning at a fresh fish market to gut-busting laughs at the Village’s own comedy club! Stroll along the waterfront Promenade and watch ships sail across the Harbor while you explore one-of-a-kind shops for unique souvenirs and gifts. And then satisfy your spirit for adventure with a harbor cruise or a half or full-day Channel Islands excursion. Rent a paddleboat, kayak or electric boat and explore to your heart’s content in the year-round mild climate of Ventura.

Jim Hall Kart Racing School
Chosen by Motor Trend Magazine as one of the “49 Cool Car Things to do Before Your Die,” the Jim Hall Kart Racing School is the place to experience all the adrenaline of wheel-to-wheel racing condensed into 160-lb. hyper-performing sprint or shifter karts. Learn to race under the sun on the beautiful Southern California coast and join the ranks of racing greats Andretti to Unser.

Ventura Dive & Sport
Ventura Dive & Sport features a full array of diving classes and outings via a beautiful 600 sq ft classroom onsite as well as a heated pool that was designed for scuba lessons. Novices and experts can dive with certified dive instructors and begin the underwater adventure today.

Ventura Arts

Olivas Adobe Music Under the Stars Concerts
Don’t miss this popular twilight music series presented in the historic Olivas Adobe Courtyard every Saturday throughout the summer, featuring a variety of music from diverse cultures.

All American Ballet Company
The All American Ballet Company provides the city of Ventura with an outstanding center for classical ballet and brings the dance to those who may not otherwise have exposure to the art. The center also provides lessons to develop today’s young dancers into the artists of tomorrow.

Ventura County Museum of History and Art
The Ventura County Museum of History and Art preserves artifacts related to the history of Ventura County and its residents. Objects and art from the museum’s collection include Artworks by local artists; the George Stuart Collection of Historical Figures; farm implements used in the extensive agriculture industry in the county; clothing and accessories from the 18th century to the present; textiles such as quilts and other household linens, flags and banners; baskets and other objects from the local Chumash Indians, as well as artifacts from other Native American cultures outside the county; furniture and other decorative arts from local families; and many other types of objects, including toys, medical equipment, tools, musical instruments, office equipment, saddles, and tack.

Ventura Dining

From upscale dining rooms to casual beachside restaurants, you’ll find the freshest California seafood, the juiciest burgers, and a host of international foods, from falafels to sushi in the Ventura area. National franchise restaurants, as well as independent neighborhood establishments, promise something for every palate in Ventura. Some of the area’s most popular restaurants include Bombay Bar & Grill, Anacapa Bread Co., Café Bella, Riviera Bistro, Frullatti’s Seafood & Pasta Café, Quizno’s Classic Subs, The Greek at the Harbor, Yasmeen’s and Capriccio.