Posted: Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2024

By Visit Ventura

Here are 5 Places to Enjoy the Outdoors in Ventura

From the mountains to the beach, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the grand and beautiful outdoors in Ventura. Nestled between the blue Pacific Ocean and the majestic Topatopa Mountains, Ventura is the perfect beach town for outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure and wide open spaces.

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge in some outdoor exploration, here are 5 places to enjoy the outdoors in Ventura that promise breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. This list of things to do outdoors in Ventura will have you out the door and under the trees in no time!

1. Harmon Canyon: Where Serenity Meets Adventure

harmon canyon

2,123 acres filled with sweeping canyons, vibrant flowers, bubbling streams, and giant oak trees. Are you looking for one of the best views in Ventura? You’ve found it. 

Tucked away in the foothills of Ventura, walk past oak trees and native plant species along miles of hiking trails at Harmon Canyon, making it a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Stay on the main paved path (about 2.5 miles) or choose an adventure and follow one of the mini trails that shoot off from the main drag. With its diverse terrain and panoramic vistas, you’ll find families out for an easy walk and outdoor lovers embarking on a challenging hike. 

Keep an eye out for native wildlife and plant species like blue elderberry, California buckwheat, and purple nightshade. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, Harmon Canyon promises an unforgettable outdoor experience. Check out this nature preserve for a great outdoor activity and thing to do outdoors in Ventura!

Make sure to check their website for closures due to storm activity.

2. Ventura Botanical Gardens: A Botanical Oasis by the Sea

Ventura botanical Gardens

Breathe in the fresh air and stop and smell the flowers at the Ventura Botanical Gardens, perched above Ventura, overlooking the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you’ll get to see the Channel Islands National Park; though they’re about 15 miles from our coast, you can catch 3D views of the islands, dubbed “Galapagos of North America.” One of the best botanical gardens in Ventura County, the Ventura Botanical Gardens is an amazing spot for views.

Moderate enough that you can bring your kiddos and dogs along with you (Wednesdays and Fridays leashed dogs are welcome!), explore winding pathways lined with colorful blooms representing the five Mediterranean zones, including a Chilean Soapbark Tree, vibrant California poppies, and Africa bulbs. With its diverse plant collections, you can take a moment out of your day to enjoy the beauty all around you during this great thing to do outdoors in Ventura. Check out this botanical park in Ventura for an afternoon walk!

3. Santa Cruz Island: An Island Escape Like No Other

In just a 90-minute boat ride off the coast of Ventura, become transported to a completely different world. Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands National Park, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and home to some of the best views in Ventura (or nearby). 

Whether you love to hike, want an adrenaline thrill in sea cave kayaking, or want to catch a glimpse of rare wildlife only found on the island, this rugged island offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. Trek along scenic coastal trails adorned with colorful wildflowers and sweeping ocean vistas, or paddle through crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for native island foxes (they’re about the size of a household cat and the cutest little foxes you’ll ever see), bald eagles, and playful dolphins. 

4. Arroyo Verde: Where Nature Flourishes in the Heart of the City

running girls arroyo verde park

Head to the Ventura hillsides and spend a sunny Ventura day enjoying everything that Arroyo Verde Park has to offer. From the city’s first all-inclusive playground for kids of all abilities to multiple hiking trails, huge grassy fields, baseball diamonds, and BBQ stations, there’s plenty to see at this public park in Ventura. Go from shopping in Downtown or Midtown Ventura and take a moment to surround yourself with Ventura’s green spaces — a little break from urban life. 

Spanning over 130 acres, lace up your hiking boots and explore the network of trails for all levels of hikers. The main trail is 2.3 miles with plenty of ups and downs so make sure to bring water and sunscreen! Other trails shoot off from the main trail and provide ample opportunities for birdwatching, wildflower smelling, and wildlife spotting. Arroyo Verde Park is the perfect spot in Ventura to enjoy the views and outdoors for a solo adventure or with your family and friends.

5. Ojai Valley Bike Trail: Pedal Your Way to Scenic Splendor

Ojai Valley Trail

Last but not least on our list of things to do outdoors in Ventura, grab your wheels and ride the Ojai Bike Trail! For cycling enthusiasts seeking a scenic ride through Ventura’s landscapes, the Ojai Bike Trail offers an unforgettable journey from Ventura to the charming town of Ojai.

Starting at Ventura Bike Depot, bike up along Ventura Avenue and the Ventura River. Along the way, catch stunning views of the Los Padres Mountains, wild mustard lining the trail in some parts, and fresh air the entire way through. This 15-mile trail is a gradual and easy uphill incline up to Ojai, but on the way back to Ventura expect an easy breezy downhill ride! Whether you’re a casual rider or a seasoned cyclist, the Ojai Valley Bike Trail promises a memorable outdoor experience amidst Ventura’s natural splendor, a great way to enjoy Ventura’ beautiful and grand outdoors.

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