I gave you a sneak peak of Ventura’s beauty in my last post, but I’m here today to fully confess my love for this city!
If you avoid rush hour traffic, you can get to Ventura in about 90 minutes from Los Angeles. I’ll admit, I’ve passed by Ventura quite a few times on my way to Santa Barbara, its popular neighbor. Both cities are located along the beautiful Pacific Coast, but their similarities end there.
I found Ventura to be very relaxed, quaint, and more affordable than most costal towns in Southern California. The beaches are pristine and uncrowded, while their Main Street and Downtown offer some early mid-century charm. Visiting Ventura felt like discovering a hidden gem. Here are just a few reasons why I think Ventura is worth a spot on your travel list!
#1 THE HISTORY
Founded in 1866, Ventura is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year which makes it the perfect time to visit!
Even before 1866, the original San Buenaventura Mission was founded in 1782 by Father Junipero Serra and is definitely worth exploring. All that remains today is the church, garden, and a small museum which can be seen in about an hour.
San Buenaventura is just one out of twenty-one missions located along the coast of California.
Spend a few minutes walking around Ventura, and you’ll quickly discover the large amount of late 18th century, Victorian-style houses that are still standing.
Most of them are private homes that you can only admire from the outside. However, Dudley House is one in particular that has been impeccably preserved and open to the public. Tours are offered on the first Sunday of every month and for special holidays and occasions throughout the year.
It was originally built as a farm house in 1892 and is now a living, history museum. With a tour guide in character and no blocking ropes or “no touching” signs throughout the house, it really feels as if you’ve stepped back in time. The furniture that you see is all original too which I found quite impressive.
I’d highly recommend visiting during November and December for their Victorian Holiday Boutique. The entire house is beautifully decorated and there are dozens of crafters with items for sale. If you’re interested, you can find more details on their website!
#2 THE FOOD
I didn’t have one bad meal in Ventura which is why food is number two on my list! Does this really surprise anyone? I owe most of my wonderful dining choices to Barbara, our incredible food tour guide. I always recommend taking a food tour towards the beginning of your trip because you’ll learn where the best places to eat are!
You can read all about our downtown food tour experience with Ventura Food Tours here. Warning: don’t read on an empty stomach!
Some of my favorite stops included Spencer Makenzie’s and Paradise Pantry where we sampled fresh fish and delicious wine. Actually, if you’re a lover of seafood, Ventura is the place for you. Another one of my favorite meals was at a casual, harbor side restaurant called Brophy Bros.
Their mahi mahi was to die for and I would also recommend ordering a cup of clam chowder with sourdough bread. Between the great food and the stunning views of the harbor, I’d highly recommend eating at Brophy Bros when you’re in Ventura. If you want a table with a view, I’d book ahead!
Cafe Zak is another place I must mention. Almost every local we spoke to told us to eat here for dinner. The restaurant is in a small, 1930’s style cottage so I’d highly recommend reservations. It’s on the pricey side but oh-so-worth it. Sticking with fish (can you tell I’m a fan?), I ordered the crab cakes to start and shrimp linguine pasta for my entree. It was a bit too dark to take photos so you just have to take my word for it!
#3 THE SCENERY
Instead of showing you a million photos of the gorgeous scenery (and trust me, I took close to that amount), here’s a short video that hopefully gives you an idea of why I’m so in love with Ventura. BIG thanks again to my talented friend, Jelayna, who took on the job of piecing together all of my footage. Yes, it’s another “60 Seconds In…” video which I am so excited to share. You can see more of our videos over on my Youtube channel. Enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts!
Are you convinced yet? I think one of my favorite things about Ventura is its small-town feel. Thanks to its laid-back vibes and friendly locals, I felt very far away from Los Angeles! Nobody is in a rush in Ventura. People stop to enjoy their surroundings and it’s easy to see why.
Have you visited Ventura before? What are your thoughts on staycations? I’d love to know in the comments below!