Ventura County Coast is an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles making it the perfect getaway destination or an amazing stop along the Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Ventura has many type of activities for all traveller ranging from nature, to shopping, and of course the delicious dining scene.
Ventura County Coast is a string of four communities: Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo, each with something unique to offer to its visitors. We have created the perfect three day itinerary to explore Ventura County Coast and included the best things to do in each destination.
In this guide we have included the best things to do in Ventura County Coast for a first time visitor or anyone who wants to experience these relaxed and welcoming communities.
Day 1: Explore the best of Oxnard
The best way to start off your adventure through Ventura County Coast is by exploring Oxnard. It is home to uncrowded beautiful beaches, incredible dining, and it is also an access point to the Channel Islands.
What to do in Oxnard in the morning:
We stayed at the Embassy Suites Resort in Oxnard. After checking in spend some time just relaxing at the heated outdoor pool, take a bike ride or enjoy the sand and sun at the exclusive beachfront. The hotel has a pool bar with a daily happy hour, a newly spa and a tennis and basketball court.
What to do in Oxnard in the afternoon:
We recommend finishing your day in Oxnard with a sunset Gondola ride. Gondola Paradiso offers the most romantic thing to do in Ventura County Coast. The 50 minute gondola ride takes you around the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.
The harbor is calm and beautiful, according to our gondolier, Mark, especially at night where there are no boats out and it feels like the whole place is just for you! It is also a tradition to kiss your loved one when floating under the bridges.
You are allowed to bring your own beverage and food on the gondola. Gondola Paraiso offers the blankets so you can have a very romantic moment and picnic with your loved one or even family of friends. The gondolas can fit up six people.
Where to eat dinner in Oxnard:
Waterside Restaurant & Wine Bar: Enjoy a fresh seafood meal overlooking the harbor. Our favorite dish was the crispy jalapeño wontons and the pappardelle bolognese. It is also a great spot for a romantic glass of wine on the waterside.
Day 2: The best things to do in Camarillo
One of the best thing to do in Ventura County Coast is to spend a full day in Camarillo. The city has some historic sites, delicious dining options and of course some of the best shopping in California.
Where to eat breakfast in Camarillo:
Rolling Pin Donuts has a variety of fresh donuts being made throughout the day. As a popular, yet small location, come hungry for donuts but be prepared to choose from whatever flavors are available. No matter what, there is no wrong choice!
What to do in Camarillo in the morning:
Visiting Camarillo in the fall we visited the seasonal pumpkin patch at McGrath Family Farm’s for $6 per person. This organic family owned farm also offers a wide selection of fresh produce depending on the harvest season.
Where to eat lunch in Camarillo:
Lure Fish House: At the heart of Camarillo, enjoy fresh seafood dishes to your heart’s content. The relaxed atmosphere and cute decorations made for the perfect spot to enjoy our Maine Lobster Ravioli.
What to do in Camarillo in the afternoon:
Shop at Camarillo Premium Outlets: One of the best things to do in Ventura County Coast is shopping at the Camarillo Premium Outlets. There are over 160 stores in this outlet mall ranging from staple department stores to high end designers. They offer a passport program with additional savings at a range of retailers across the outlets.
Where to eat dinner:
RumFish: Located in Downtown Ventura Rumfish y Vino offers a Central American inspired cuisine, originating in Belize. The authentic flavors come through in every dish, especially the Yucatan Chicken.
Day 3: Explore the best of Ventura
The small coastal city of Ventura stretches along the Santa Clara River. Ventura is most well known for its beaches and wooden Ventura Pier, but has so much more to explore.
What to do in Ventura in the morning:
Visiting the Channel Islands National Park can take anywhere from a half day to a full day experience, or even several days if you would like to experience primitive camping on one of the islands. It all depends on what you want to do in the National Park. Without a doubt visiting the Channel Islands National park is one of the best things to do in Ventura.
The Channel Islands National Park is made up of five of the Channel Islands of the California coastline. There are eight Channel Islands in total, but only Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and Anacapa islands make up the park.
The Channel Islands are accessible by boat from the Channel Islands Harbor or Ventura Harbor and the boats are run by Island Packers.
We only had one day to visit the National Park so we visited Santa Cruz Island and saw the Scorpion section of the island. We had almost three hours to explore this area of the island. While it was not nearly enough time, it was completely worthwhile. We ran to both of the viewpoints on the islands, Potato Harbor and Cavern Point. It was about 6 miles of walking round trip so we had to hustle to get back to the boat on time but we made it happen!
Where to eat lunch in Ventura:
Paradise Pantry: The rustic farm to table restaurant has a daily menu highlighting seasonal flavors from the region. They are most well known for the Mac ‘n Cheeez, but honestly everything on the menu is delicious. If there is any of the cheese or wine you specifically enjoy, head on over to the counter to take some with you!
What to do in Ventura in the afternoon:
One of the best things to do in Ventura is spend time exploring Ventura’s historic downtown and Ventura Harbor. In downtown Ventura you will find historic Victorian homes, the Mission San Buenaventura, antique shops, thrift stores, amazing boutiques, many delicious restaurants.
Just a few miles south of Downtown Ventura, you will find the Ventura Harbor, where you can take a ferry to visit the Channel Islands. The views of the Harbor are amazing!
The best things to do in Ventura: Visit the San Buenaventura Mission, take a walk along the Main Street, take a photo of the Historic City Hall, relax on the beach and take a photo of the Ventura Pier, take a paddle boarding lesson with Ventura Paddle.
Where to eat dinner in Ventura
The Jolly Oyster: As its name suggests get your stomach ready for some high quality fresh seafood. Located at the San Buenaventura State Beach Park, grab a tray and enjoy on the bountiful green area.