Ventura Botanical Gardens. Photo by Stephen Shafer.
By the end of the week, getting outside is pure bliss. Known for its effortlessly healing properties, the great outdoors can hand you either one heck of a workout or a therapeutic day listening to the waves. You can explore nature in a number of ways right here in Ventura. If you’re feeling antsy, pick a naturally gorgeous location and experience it today.
Hiking. If you’re looking to sweat it out, put on your hiking shoes and head to Arroyo Verde Park, located near Ventura College. Aside from a large grass area complete with grills and playgrounds, the hiking trails provide a breathtaking outlook over the rest of the park (and a breathtaking incline). Having had first-hand experience at this park, I can vouch for its simple delight. Try out this hike at Arroyo Verde, which sits just a few minutes from Ventura College. Bonus: Parking is free on weekdays!
Botanical gardens. A work in progress, the botanical gardens are located in Grant Park. If you’re looking for a more moderate, one-mile trail, this is the place for you. More species of plants are added to this relaxing route all the time, making the path prettier with each visit. I explored the gardens with my family in its beginning stages, and I know it will be even better when we return to it with fresh eyes. Find out more about the botanical gardens on the official website.
The islands. Check out the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in the Ventura Harbor to learn about islands like Anacapa and Santa Cruz. Island Packers leads trips to the islands, including whale watching cruises. It’s an ocean lover’s dream. I actually visited Anacapa as a middle school student, and I still remember how incredible Inspiration Point looks. Learn more about the stunning Channel Islands here.
Bird watching. When you think of Ventura, birding may not be the immediate thought. However, it is more common here than one might expect! Ever heard of ashy storm-petrels or island scrub-jays? The islands are a prime spot for spotting these flying beauties, and you can find out more about bird watching here.
The beach. Ah, there’s nothing like an afternoon in the sand. Whether you go all the time or are a first time visitor in Ventura, the beach is wonderful for surfing, sunbathing, and swimming. Get away from the crowds and go out into the water and jump over the waves like you did as a child. If you have curious kids, take them shell hunting along the shore. If you crave a picture perfect sunset, stay until dusk and you will be astounded.