Ven­ture out along the sea

2017 Travel Guide to California - - VENTURA COUNTY COAST - BY JILL K. ROBIN­SON

WITH THE WIDE-OPEN SPA­CES along the Cal­i­for­nia coast, it’s no won­der Cal­i­for­ni­ans spend a lot of time out­doors. Even if you’re not a res­i­dent, you too can surf the swell at Point Huen­eme, grab some fish ta­cos for lunch, spend the af­ter­noon hik­ing to the per­fect sun­set spot and fin­ish the day en­joy­ing some lo­cal brews.

A string of four main ci­ties—ca­mar­illo, Ox­nard, Port Huen­eme, and Ven­tura— lo­cated be­tween Santa Bar­bara and Los An­ge­les, al­low for a va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences in Ven­tura County. Spend some qual­ity time in Ca­mar­illo’s his­toric Old Town, or en­joy shop­ping, gallery hop­ping and vis­it­ing in­dul­gent spas. Ox­nard is ideal for food­ies chas­ing great tastes and out­doors lovers want­ing ac­cess to Chan­nel Is­lands Na­tional Park. Port Huen­eme blends a his­tory-rich Naval Con­struc­tion Bat­tal­ion Cen­ter with wide, sandy beaches. Ven­tura’s ac­tive beach cul­ture and artsy down­town lure many look­ing for a Cal­i­for­nia-style get­away.

Those in search of an ac­tive way to en­joy the re­gion might con­sider cy­cling along the grand loop—a 150-mile route that takes cy­clists past beau­ti­ful beaches and climb­ing along moun­tain roads. Don’t worry, you can do just part of it. The route is eas­ily bro­ken up into seg­ments best en­joyed at your leisure.

Fam­ily Fun & Out­door Ad­ven­tures

For fam­i­lies, Port Huen­eme Beach Park with its fifty acres of land­scaped park­land (com­plete with pic­nic ar­eas and bar­be­cue pits) and long strip of soft white sand is es­pe­cially invit­ing for a day of fun. Ad­ven­tur­ing fam­i­lies can take a boat from Ox­nard’s pic­turesque har­bor to Chan­nel Is­lands Na­tional Park for kayak­ing, snor­kel­ing, bird­watch­ing, whale watch­ing and is­land hik­ing. Other fam­ily fo­cused stops in­clude the U.S. Navy Se­abee Mu­seum in Port Huen­eme, Ca­mar­illo’s Old Town, Ven­tura Har­bor Vil­lage, Ox­nard Beach Park, Ma­rina Park and Ca­mar­illo Grove Park.

San Bue­naven­tura State Beach runs for two miles along the Ven­tura coast, with sand dunes, bike trails, great swim­ming and surf­ing op­tions, and is per­fect for pic­nics and bar­be­cues. Hol­ly­wood Beach in Ox­nard is pop­u­lar with surfers, beach vol­ley­ball play­ers and those who want to slow things down and en­joy the sand and sun.

Fab­u­lous Food

One key to hav­ing great cui­sine is hav­ing fresh food. Ven­tura County Coast is lo­cated along an agri­cul­tural green­belt—ideal for sam­pling fresh seafood from the Pa­cific Ocean and lo­cally sourced pro­duce. Farms in and around Ca­mar­illo, Ox­nard and Ven­tura have free tours and u-pick fun, where you can get your own taste of what’s avail­able. Out­door farm­ers mar­kets pro­vide great op­por­tu­ni­ties to sam­ple fresh sea­sonal pro­duce, ar­ti­san cheeses, gourmet sauces and olive oil, and to pick up plants, flow­ers and hand­crafted items.

Ox­nard’s mul­ti­cul­tural in­flu­ences and farm­ing her­itage make it an ideal place to try au­then­tic Mex­i­can, Brazil­ian, Thai and Ital­ian dishes. Or even just dine on seafood in the har­bor—what­ever you have a crav­ing for. Ca­mar­illo is best known for its fresh farm stands, farm-to-ta­ble cui­sine and de­li­cious craft beer. Grab a glass of wine with your fresh seafood in Port Huen­eme for op­ti­mal en­joy­ment. In Ven­tura, you can start your day with tasty cof­fee, re­lax mid­day with lo­cal beer, and wind down at sun­set with in­ven­tive cock­tails.

For a foodie be­hind-the-scenes ex­pe­ri­ence, the Ven­tura Food Tour al­lows culi­nary fans to meet lo­cal chefs, brew­mas­ters and choco­late mak­ers. Plen­ti­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist for wine tast­ing, with eleven winer­ies in Ca­mar­illo, Ox­nard and Ven­tura, as well as a com­bined wine-and-dine ex­pe­ri­ence at the award-win­ning Tierra Sur in­side Her­zog Wine Cel­lars.

Even bet­ter, plan your visit around one of the re­gion’s sig­na­ture events, such as Ven­tura County Farm Day (Nov. 4), Ox­nard’s an­nual Cal­i­for­nia Straw­berry Fes­ti­val (May 20-21) or the Ven­tura County Fair (Aug. 2-13).

There’s never only one thing to do in Ven­tura County Coast. It’s fun for beach lovers, wildlife fans, art ap­pre­ci­a­tors, his­tory buffs, shop­pers, wine and beer en­thu­si­asts and food­ies. Fit in time to do it all, and you’ll find out which com­bi­na­tion is your per­sonal fa­vorite.

FIELDS IN CA­MAR­ILLO, op­po­site top; a whale breaches on the way to the Chan­nel Is­lands, op­po­site bot­tom; Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Chan­nel Is­lands, right; Chan­nel Is­lands Har­bor, Ox­nard, be­low.

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