Posted: Thursday, Dec 28th, 2023

By Visit Ventura

Your Bucket List in Ventura: 10 Things to Do in Town

There’s always a sense of awe and wonder when you step foot in a new place. You wonder what are the absolute must-dos: what do you have to see, what do you have to do, and where do you have to eat to get the full experience? Whether you’re in town for a couple of days or a long weekend in Ventura, there’s so much to do and so many adventures to choose from. To make the most out of your trip to Ventura, we’ve created the ultimate Ventura bucket list to guide your adventures.  The list will have you exploring, indulging, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some of the top things to do in Ventura.

1. Walk along the Historic Ventura Pier

Ventura Pier drone photo

Kickstart your Ventura adventure by walking along the historic Ventura Pier. The Ventura Pier is California’s oldest — it was built in ​​1872— and also once held the title of California’s longest pier before storms damaged the wooden planks. With the sun kissing your face and the sound of waves below you, visiting the Ventura Pier is an absolute must-visit in Ventura and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Ventura. Don’t forget your camera – the views of the coastline are postcard-worthy! Make sure to call us at the Ventura Visitor Center for updates on the pier’s status — sometimes it closes due to weather damage and repairs. 

2. Watch the Sunset at Grant Park

serra cross sunset ventura grant park
Courtesy of Steve Cattanach

Looking for one of the best views in Ventura to add to your bucket list in Ventura? Look no further than atop the hill at Grant Park. Watch the city below dazzle in lights and the sky above ablaze with hues of orange and pink as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. To the right, you’ll be able to see up the coast and the massive mountain ranges that hug Ventura. Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket, and revel in the breathtaking view of Ventura below. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and soak in the beauty of the California coast. Plus, if you’re looking for an easy and short nature walk, check out Ventura Botanical Gardens which is roughly 2 miles through beautiful plants and flowers. You’ll probably want to stop and enjoy the view all along the way. Spending the afternoon at the VBG is definitely a great thing to do in Ventura.

3. Tour the Ventura Avenue Taco District

Best tacos in Ventura

Ventura takes its tacos seriously, and you’re in for a treat in the Taco District. Home to multiple locally and family-owned taquerías, the Taco District is located on the Ventura Avenue, where you can find authentic and delicious tacos. From traditional carne asada to fun seafood options and even vegetarian-friendly tacos, you’ll be able to find something that fits your mood. Challenge yourself to try something new – you won’t be disappointed! For more information on Ventura’s Taco District, check this out. For more unique food experiences and special Ventura food, check out this list

4. Spend the Day at the Beach

emma wood state beach aerial

With 33 miles of coastline, Ventura is a beach lover’s dream. You won’t have to fight for a spot on the sand or struggle to find parking. All you need are the essentials: a beach towel, sunscreen, and a love for amazing waves. Ventura is home to some of California’s best waves (we’re known for our consistent swell). If you want to live out your California surfing dreams, add taking a surf lesson at Mondo’s Beach to your bucket list in Ventura. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a first-timer, the instructors at Mondo’s will have you riding the waves in no time. Feel the rush of the ocean beneath you and the salty breeze in your hair – an experience that is truly classic California and should be on your list of things to do in Ventura!

5. Explore the Ventura Harbor

swan boats ventura harbor

Hop on a boat and explore the harbor’s charm from the water. Fun for the whole family, rent cute character peddle boats, kayaks, or electric boats and cruise along the harbor — you may see some harbor seals and other small sea life along the way! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing harbor cruise or an adventurous whale-watching tour through Island Packers, the ocean breeze and coastal views will leave you refreshed and invigorated. Plus, grub on harborside eats at locals’ favorite Andria’s Seafood and other restaurants by the water. There are tons of boutiques to grab souvenirs and gifts for yourself to remember your trip to Ventura. 

Planning to stay the weekend? Here’s a three day itinerary with plenty of things to do in Ventura’s harbor.

6. Visit the Channel Islands National Park

Hiking on Green Santa Cruz Island during spring, Channel Islands National Park

Want to check off visiting a national park on your bucket list in Ventura? Venture to where the wild things are at the Channel Islands National Park, a national park just off the coast. Immerse yourself in the raw beauty of these islands, home to unique flora and fauna, the cutest island foxes you’ve ever seen, and massive sea caves. Hike, walk, camp, snorkel, and kayak at the Channel Islands National Park— the adventures are limitless! Check out our guide to the Channel Islands for more information and what to expect. 

7. Bike along the Ventura Promenade/Rincon Bike Trail

Biking along the Ventura Promenade, top things to do in Ventura
Courtesy of Josiah Roe

Another great thing to do in Ventura? Cruise around at your own pace and let the ocean breeze blow through your hair and the California sunshine warm your face. Rent a bike at Wheel Fun Rentals or an electric bike at Ventura Bike Depot and bike along the Ventura Promenade for an easy and casual ride. Or, head up to our neighbors in the north along the Rincon Bike Trail that goes right along the ocean. Tip: keep your eyes open! You never know when you’ll see a dolphin. 

8. Hike at Harmon Canyon

hiking at Harmon Canyon

Get your hiking boots on and head to Harmon Canyon for a morning or afternoon walk through giant oak trees. Harmon Canyon is over 2,000 acres of preserved land, perfect for the casual hiker to the serious trail runner or mountain biker. Either way, you’ll enjoy the sweeping landscapes with wildflowers and fresh air.

9. Thrift and Vintage Shop in Ventura

Ventura mission downtown shopping

Ventura is full of old-school California charm and our thrift and vintage shopping is full of hidden gems and unique finds! Thrifting and vintage shopping should absolutely be on your bucket list and list of things to do in Ventura. From Midtown Ventura all the way to Downtown Ventura down Main Street, you can spend an entire day going in and out of different thrift and antique stores to jazz up your wardrobe. It’s a perfect way to take a piece of Ventura home with you.

10. Visit Patagonia’s Headquarters in Ventura

Great Pacific Iron Works Patagonia

Last but not least, you have to add a visit to where it all began to your bucket list in Ventura: Patagonia’s headquarters. Founded right here in Ventura in 1973, not many know that our little beach town is home to the world’s leading outdoor recreation clothing brand and a business that is paving the way for real environmental change. We’re proud that Patagonia has its headquarters where the first ever Patagonia store was founded. And you can visit it yourself! 

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