Ventura’s “Best of” Holiday Traditions!

by Debbie Cvijanovich

No snow. No problem. Don’t let our stellar California weather fool ya! We know just how to spread holiday cheer year after year in our magical town by the sea. Here are our some of our favorite rituals…


Last weekend jumpstarted the holiday season in our charming downtown with our Holiday Tree Lighting, Santa’s Village, Holiday Street Fair, and Winter Wine Walk events, as our lively community gathered to revel in the holiday spirit with a countdown to light up the trees, snow machines, photo booths, caroling choirs, music and Santa’s grand arrival. Although these events have already passed, there is still lots of time to enjoy our holiday decorations. The historic San Buenaventura Mission is the enchanting backdrop to two 125 ft. Norfolk Pine trees that light up for the holidays. And this year, the mission is sporting a brand new 9 foot wreath that hangs from the bell tower and it’s spectacular!

Photo Op’s

A video posted by Visit Ventura (@visitventura) on


The beauty of Ventura makes it a perfect setting to capture photographs of family and friends. Wondering where to snap the perfect holiday card pic, Instagram or selfie shot? Popular spots include beaches, Serra Cross at Grant Park, Ventura Pier (on it, under it or in the backdrop), and on Santa’s lap at Pacific View Mall. Local pet shops also offer adorable Santa photos taken with pets.

S-l-o-o-o-w Down


Ease up the hustle and bustle of the season by taking in the breathtaking island views and brilliant sunsets. Our casual laidback vibe is contagious. We live life at an unhurried pace. Put your toes in the sand. Take a long beach walk on a crisp winter morning. Enjoy the balancing rock sculptures and watch surfers glide along the waves. Discover the beauty of winter beachcombing. Find the perfect seaglass and shells to put in someone’s holiday stocking.

Get your tamales!

A photo posted by Ann’s Bakery (@annsbakeryca) on


Savor our diverse Mexican culture with traditional, authentic tamales. Grab a dozen and unwrap these muy delicioso treats served up with homemade salsas.

Best bets
  • Lalo’s on Ventura Avenue
  • Gloria’s Kitchen
  • Corrales
  • Rosabella’s
  • Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales available at Saturday farmers’ markets
OR

Make your own tamales using fresh local ingredients. Shop the markets on Ventura Avenue for tamale-making supplies!

Nutcracker Ballet


In its 18th year, the outstanding Ventura County Ballet Company performs this classic at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center. This year (December 9-11), they collaborate with the Ventura College Orchestra (52 piece ensemble). The dancers are mentored by and perform with professional ballet dancers. This is a must-see event!

On the water

The 40th Annual Parade of Lights dazzles Ventura Harbor Village. This year’s theme celebrates “100 Years of our National Parks” happening on December 16 & 17. Or hop aboard a caroling boat cruise to tour the dazzling light displays of the Ventura Keys. Bundle up, sing carols and sip wine. Island Packers and Ventura Boat Rentals offer nightly cruises throughout December.

Holiday Stroll

Grab a hot beverage and wander with your loved one(s). Take an evening stroll enjoying the twinkling lights. Don’t forget to don a warm scarf topped off with a santa hat!

Best walks
  • Promenade
  • Historic Ventura Pier
  • Downtown
  • Ventura harbor at night
  • Marina Park jetty walking path
  • Beachwalk on the sand
Take a hike

Perhaps at Arroyo Verde Park or Ventura Botanical Gardens. Round up the family! Gather a group of friends! Make an outdoor date!

Or pedal a bike

Take the promenade from Pierpont to Emma Wood or beyond (Rincon), Ventura River Trail to Ojai. Be festive…decorate your bike with glittery garland, ornaments, etc.

Light Displays

A photo posted by ?Rebecca? (@edensmomma) on


Cruise through the neighborhoods on the hillside for streets lined with decorated homes. Discover “Candy Cane Lanes” by taking a new route home.

Give Back

Help the less fortunate. Share a smile. Pay it forward. Practice random acts of kindness. Buy someone a coffee.
Best places to give include blood donations at United Blood Services, Toys for Tots (Fire Stations), and other local charitable organizations.

Shop Local

Support our businesses and keep our community thriving by buying local. Put your money into a small business owner’s pocket and show pride in Ventura by wearing Ventura swag.

Best bets
  • Latitudes (locally inspired photos and art)
  • Plum (unique and Ventura logo gifts)
  • Ventura Visitor Center (signature Ventura logo wear/gear)
  • Sea Things (sea and ocean gifts/jewelry)
  • Ventura Wine Company (boutique wines and bubbly)

Local Christmas Tree Lots

A photo posted by Big Wave Daves (@davestreelot) on


Bring home a tree that supports a local business owner.

Top Spots
  • Prancer’s Village (Johnson Drive near Hwy 101)
  • Big Wave Dave’s
  • Green Thumb Nursery


Create new traditions while appreciating the old. Enjoy the gifts of the season which our beautiful town of Ventura has to offer.

Lucky are those of us who live here. And happy are we to share Ventura’s holiday magic with visitors.

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