Ventura mixes old charm with new modern facilities to blend a rich and wonderful background to living. 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 amazing 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. Contact the Westside Community Council for current information.
Note the iron bells every few miles on the 101 freeway. They are markers of the Camino Real, the route of Father Serra.
Ventura is located 68 miles north of LAX on Highway 101. Amtrak service is available at the Ventura station, and 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 10-15 minutes away down the breath-taking 101. Camarillo Airport is a dominant general aviation hub, though Oxnard and Santa Barbara take their share as well.
The Southern California Area Transit (SCAT schedule) Bus system provides impressive transportation coverage across the city of Ventura as well as the neighboring cities of Oxnard, Camarillo and Port Hueneme.
San Buenaventura Mission. Church services, funerals, and weddings are still performed there today. There is an original well still standing in the back of the church, and a school for children attached to the side. This mission sits on Main Street in the heart of old town Ventura.
Across street of Main is California Street, where you can stand on the corner, look up and see the old county courthouse and jail, which is now city hall. The Perry Mason show used to be filmed there.
If you turn around and head towards the ocean you'll come across more shops, and even a haunted hotel. Keep going to the ocean and check out the surfers next to the pier every morning.
Bell Arts Factory The Bell Arts Factory was 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. Come visit us at 432 N. Ventura Avenue.
Ventura Hot Glass Studio. Formerly named LA Hot Glass, Artists John Gerletti and Suzi Perret have a unique studio open to the public featuring their handblown art glass. Pop in during the afternoons and you might catch them in the act of blowing glass. Individual pieces are showcased for sale with prices ranging from $50 to $400. (777 N. Olive Street, 805-643-1848)
Olivas Adobe. A 160 year old adobe style house with historical ties. The Adobe is rummored to be haunted as well. Tours are availible.
Being a beach town, Ventura has developed the downtown beach area into a wonderful promenade that makes it's 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.
Surfing - You can visit spitcast to get the latest surf forecast.
Ventura hosts the only regional professional live theatre in Ventura County called Rubicon Theatre Company. It is located at 1006 E. Main Street. (805)667-2900. 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. www.rubicontheatre.org
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.
The Pacific View Mall and surrounding area (located about 3-5 miles 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, in Thousand Oaks at The Oaks or up in Santa Barbara.
Ventura has a hidden gem in the music/alternative mecca known as Salzer's which is located 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.
Korazon Organics at the end of Main Street located at 671 East Main street - one block from the movie theater. They have organic clothing made from sustainable fibers such as soy, cotton, bamboo, and hemp. It is a wonderful store and very unique. (805) 652-0899
Heirloom Antiques (On Main St) - Offers an extensive collection of imported European antique furniture. Some really unusual pieces can be found at great prices. The owners are super nice, not too knowledgable on history/antiques, but they have a great appreciation of beautiful woodwork. The owner personally goes to Europe and buys the pieces at auction. Some stunning antique church furniture can usually be found there, which the legality is a little questionable since many European countries explicity forbid the sale/exportation of church furniture (which is commonplace knowledge in Europe but unknown in America).
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.
Frankie's Just down from the Busy Bee, Frankie's is a unique place and an amazing lunch spot. You will notice the theme of frogs everywhere as well as the showcase of local art.
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!
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.
San Souci is the local dive where young and old alike go.
Best Western Inn of Ventura, 708 E Thompson Boulevard, (805) 648-3101, Fax: (805) 648-4019, .
Holiday Inn, 450 E Harbor Blvd, (805) 648-7731, . Sits right on the beach, towering above old town. It's a fabulous view of both Ventura's city charm, and her beautiful ocean shores
Motel 6 Ventura Beach, 2145 East Harbor Boulevard, (805) 643-5100, Fax: (805) 643-4519, .
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 Highway 1 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 Franciso. To head east, just jump on Highway 126 which winds it's way out to the small towns of Santa Paula and Fillmore on the way to Six Flags Magic Mountain.