Posted: Wednesday, Feb 28th, 2024

By Visit Ventura

10 Cheap Things to Do in Ventura

Header Image by Photo Kamilo Bustamante

Welcome to Ventura, where the sun shines, the beautiful blue waves call your name, and the fun doesn’t have to break the bank. Catch million-dollar sunset views without writing a check and make priceless memories on a budget. In Ventura, you don’t need a fancy car or watch. Throw on your $5 flip flops and head out to find your own adventure. 

Whether you’re a local looking for budget friendly adventures or a visitor looking for a cheap thrill, there are plenty of cheap things to do in Ventura. Let’s dive into the top 10 affordable activities in Ventura that promise a memorable experience without draining your wallet!

1. Soak Up the Sun at Ventura’s Beaches

kids running at the beach

Let’s start right off the bat with a free activity in Ventura: enjoying our beautiful beaches. There are 30 miles of coastline, calling your name to swim, play, and surf in it with childlike joy. All you need is a beach towel, a frisbee (optional), and excitement to embrace the Pacific Ocean and all the beauty that comes with it (a non-negotiable). 

From the laid-back vibes of Surfer’s Point where you can watch locals surf the point to the family-friendly shores of Surfer’s Knoll by the Ventura Harbor, there’s a stretch of sand for every beach lover. Pack a picnic and spend a day jumping over waves or simply lounge in the warm Ventura sunshine—enjoying the beach is one of the most delightful things to do in Ventura.

2. Explore Beauty at Ventura Botanical Gardens

ventura botanical gardens

Kickstart your Ventura adventure with a serene stroll through the Ventura Botanical Gardens. Admission is completely free on Wednesdays and Fridays (check holidays for their special admission deals). Otherwise, a $7 admission fee goes towards supporting the Ventura Botanical Gardens and expanding its walking trails. 

Start at the beginning of the botanical gardens behind Ventura’s city hall and walk along the path (an easy incline) up towards the sky. Don’t forget to take a pause and sit down on one of the benches that line the paths and enjoy the view. You’ll get to see the bustling downtown below and the blue Pacific Ocean beyond! Enjoying the afternoon exploring the Ventura Botanical Gardens is one of the most budget friendly ways to enjoy nature’s beauty in Ventura.

3. Indulge in Delicious Eats at Ventura’s Taco District

Best tacos in Ventura

Calling all foodies on a budget! Ventura’s Avenue Taco District is a street lined with local and authentic taquerías where you can fill your belly with delicious tacos without emptying your wallet. In fact, it’s not hard to a mouthwatering carne asada taco for $3 at many of the taquerías in the Ventura Taco District. 
Our picks? Try Maggie’s on the Avenue or Pablito’s Tacos for some amazing yet cheap tacos. But you really can’t go wrong with any of the taquerías: here’s our guide. Whether you prefer carne asada, fish tacos, or vegetarian delights, the Ventura Taco District has something for every palate.

4. Immerse Yourself in Local History at the Museum of Ventura County

museum of ventura county

Step back in time and uncover the rich history and culture at the Museum of Ventura County. From quirky exhibits like exploring the science of laundry to important exhibits showcasing the county’s indigenous history, there’s plenty to explore for history buffs and curious minds alike. 18 years and younger get in for free, otherwise admission is an affordable $10. Plus the first Sunday of each month is free! You never know what you’ll be able to explore and learn at the Museum of Ventura County — check it out here

5. Hunt for Hidden Treasures at Vintage and Thrift Stores in Ventura

Thrifting in Ventura, Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store, Avenue Thrift

Picture it: you’re digging through a bin and you pull out designer shoes (they fit you perfectly!) that normally go for hundreds, but today: only a few bucks! The thrill of finding an amazing thrift find is a common occurrence in Ventura’s thrifting scene. With some patience and will, vintage and thrift shopping in Ventura is a great way to spend the day filling your shopping bags without breaking the bank. 

From retro clothing and funky decor to antique furniture and collectibles, you never know what gems you’ll discover. With prices that cater to every budget, vintage shopping is one of the best cheap things to do in Ventura (and one of the most rewarding things to do too!).

6. Discover Natural Wonders at the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center

Channel Islands Visitor Center

Step into the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center, where you can learn about the diverse ecosystems and fascinating wildlife of the national park, just off Ventura’s coast! Kids will love looking at the mini aquarium showcasing marine life and can sit down and watch the visitor center’s park movie to learn more about the unique islands (parents: you’ll recognize the narrator as the one and only Kevin Costner). 

While day trips to the Channel Islands National Park cost around $44 for adults and about $32 for children (one way), visiting the visitor center itself is free of charge, offering visitors a budget friendly opportunity to discover the natural wonders of the islands. To buy tickets to visit the national park, click here.

7. Unwind in Ventura’s Scenic Public Parks

Roamaroo family Arroyo Verde Park
Courtesy of Roamaroo

Lay around with flowers in your hair and sunshine on your face at one of Ventura’s public parks! Whether you’re looking for an action-packed field day or a chilled day complete with a picnic and hanging out on the grass, there’s a park for you, free of charge! 

Check out Arroyo Verde Park for hiking trails and acres of open green space or enjoy waterfront views at Marina Park. A field day is a great way to spend the afternoon and one of the best cheap things to do in Ventura.

8. Explore the Historic San Buenaventura Mission

San Buenaventura Mission, Grotto Garden

Dubbed the “Mission by the Sea,” visit the San Buenaventura Mission, California’s ninth and final mission. 

Wander through the mission’s tranquil grotto and admire its Spanish colonial architecture through a self-guided tour ($5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for children). With affordable admission prices, the mission offers visitors a budget friendly glimpse into history.

9. Experience Art and Culture at Ventura City Hall Art Gallery

Ventura City Hall with green hills

Check out this hidden gem in Ventura — most visitors don’t know that they can walk through over 90 art pieces created by local Ventura artists at Ventura’s City Hall. And it’s free! The Municipal Art Collection began in 1999 and displays all types of media — from oil paintings and photographs to beautiful sculptures celebrating Ventura’s history, nature, and culture. 

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply want to wander through local art, exploring the Municipal Art Collection at Ventura City Hall is a great budget friendly and affordable activity to do in Ventura.

10. Savor Spectacular Views with a Sunset Walk 

10 Reasons to Book a Fall Getaway Trip to Ventura
Courtesy of West Cooke

After a day full of adventure in Ventura, end it on a high note with one last cheap thing to do in Ventura: enjoying a beautiful beach sunset. After all, some of the best things in life are free. Warm your hands up with a cup of coffee or tea from a local coffee shop (try Prospect Coffee or Kaapicat) and head down to the shore. 

Take a moment to be in the moment —no phone in sight— and breathe in the sea salt air and dip your toes in the sand. You’ve spent a full day in Ventura making memories and enjoying each little adventure this city offered you both planned and unexpected. Cheers to another beautiful day as you watch the sun dip below the horizon—a perfect ending to a day of affordable adventures in Ventura!

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