Posted: Wednesday, Apr 27th, 2022

By Visit Ventura

Three day Guide to Ventura

Imagine your dream Ventura itinerary. Filled with adventure, in a hidden California gem that’s easy going and welcoming, like small towns you remember. Big adventure, easy access, cold beers, soft sunsets, delicious Mexican food, tiny island foxes. Really, a thousand-fold directions you could go. But in this case, why not semi-follow in the footsteps of YouTube talent Jon Barr of Here Be Barr, a New Yorker who came to Ventura to discover, well, California’s Best Kept Secret. 

Yes, we left off the question mark on purpose. Planning a weekend getaway to Ventura? Take our humble suggestion and find your own spontaneous adventures at your own pace. But if you need help kickstarting your plans, we’ve got you.


Get Settled in the Hotel of Your Choice

Three day Guide to Ventura

First, relax and get settled in the hotel of your choice. In Ventura, we specialize in seaside breezes and views; and plenty of Ventura’s hotels offer both. We pride ourselves in “beach ease;” ease-y walkability to the sand. The best part? Pick from a variety of hotels that will fit every budget. Cost-effective boutiques and motels, you’ll feel at home wherever you go.

Another thing to smile about? Many of Ventura’s hotels are dog-friendly. That’s right, your four-legged pup won’t be giving you those puppy dog eyes when the suitcase comes out.

Walk Downtown

Three day Guide to Ventura

Start with a walk downtown to get the lay of the land. Meander. Have a car? You can park for free in the parking structure on the corner of California and Santa Clara Street. And plenty of free parking elsewhere.

Our easily walkable downtown is packed with a lively array of all kinds of, well, lively fun. Unique, locally-owned stores, art galleries, restaurants of every ilk, craft breweries, live music (in intimate – and usually cover free – venues), thrift stores brimming with antiques and bargains. Could require several walks. 

Enjoy Cocktails that Border on Art

Follow in Jon’s footsteps and drop into Rocks & Drams. Rocks & Drams’ cocktails are innovative art – one reason why they were recently runner up for Best Cocktail Bar in the nation for the Bar Expo.

And maybe you’ll want to sample a couple of other cocktail spots in Ventura — lucky for you, many of them are within walking distance of each other right along Main Street. And Ventura is full of unique cocktails you have to try, check out our list.

Dinner at the Aloha Steakhouse

fish plate at aloha steakhouse

Aloha Steakhouse is right on the beach promenade. No better place for a great steak and a Pacific sunset view.


Today is a day for one-of-a-kind adventure. We’re talking Channel Islands National Park, one of America’s least visited – and wildest – national parks. Why not throw in a little sea cave kayaking too?

Hop on an Island Packers boat to Santa Cruz Island.

Island Packers has been taking folks out to the Channel Islands for over fifty years. No one knows the islands – or the surrounding waters – better. Which is why, on the trip out you’re likely to see dolphins – and, if the season is right  – everything from gray to blue whales. Unsure of what to expect? Well first, know that you’ll make memories that wil last a lifetime. Second, know that you’re going to experience the rawest form of nature there is. Breathtaking views, wildlife just feet away. Here’s a guide of what a day trip out to the Channel Islands National Park will look like.

Go Sea Cave Kayaking

sea cave kayaking on santa cruz island

Kayaking with Santa Barbara Adventure Company is an adventure like no other. Paddling into a sea cave is like descending into the throat of some softly breathing beast. You’ll need to sign up ahead of time, but it’s easy to do.

Take a Hike

After your kayak adventure – and it will be an adventure – you’ll have time to hike before catching the boat home. The Channel Islands have some of the loveliest hiking you’ll find, and Santa Cruz Island is also your chance to spot the cute and rare – found nowhere else in the world – island fox. The Cavern Point loop is a great short hike with breathtaking seascape views.

Take the Boat Home and Keep an Eye Out for Spectacular Sea Life

Dolphins are always a playful favorite. And they are fascinating.

Dinner at Water’s Edge Restaurant  

Watersedge ventura lobster

Water’s Edge Restaurant is aptly named. Right on the water at Ventura Harbor, they offer mouthwatering seafood dishes, with a lovely sunset and harbor mouth view. 

Day Three

Breakfast at Pete’s Breakfast House

petes breakfast

On Main Street, across from Ventura High School, Pete’s Breakfast House has been serving breakfast to Ventura since 1981. When the original owner, Pete Ransom, sold his place to Peter and Lyndsay Timpson in 2003, the three agreed to keep Ransom’s recipes and let no employee go. It’s that kind of place. Two Pete’s classics; pancakes made with fresh buttermilk and topped with homemade strawberry jam and, the piece de resistance, fresh-baked biscuits with gravy.

Go for a Bike Ride Along the Beach

bike riding on the promenade
Photo by Josiah Rose

Wheel Fun Rentals has your bikes – ebikes too – right at the foot of the Ventura Pier.

The prettiest ride is north along the beachfront. Stop to watch the surfers performing aerial acrobatics.

Walk the Ventura Botanical Gardens

botanical gardens ventura

The Ventura Botanical Gardens offer a lovely high-in-the-hills views of the town — and a grand sweep of Pacific Ocean. A great way to get a literal overview of Ventura’s beauty.  

Explore the Street Murals along Ventura Avenue

The street murals by Ventura artists are colorful and beautiful and line Ventura Avenue, indoor and out. Also on Ventura Avenue,Taquería Tepatitlán. No better place for lunch, or albondigas soup, anywhere.

Visit Ventura Spirits

ventura spirirts of wilder gins

A little further down Ventura Avenue, you’ll find the tasting room of  Ventura Spirits Their offerings at this local distillery are about as unique as it gets. Wilder Gin features the tastes of California sagebrush, purple sage, bay, yerba santa, pixie mandarin peel, and chuchupate. Haymakers Vodka? It’s made from local apples and potatoes. Strawberry Brandy? It’s distilled from “imperfect” local strawberries. Belly up to the tasting room bar. 

Catch the Sunset at the Ventura Pier

ventura sunset wes cook
Courtesy of Wes Cooke

Ventura is all about the ocean – and ocean sunsets. No better vantage point for a sunset than the Ventura Pier. Toast the sunset with a homegrown craft beer at MadeWest Brewing Company on the Pier, like pretty much all of our breweries, locally owned. Have dinner right downstairs at Beach House Fish so you can watch every ounce of sunset.

On your way out

Breakfast at Cafe Ficelle. Try one of their almond croissants. You won’t regret it.

Three day Guide to Ventura

Delicious French pastries. Try the waffles with Nutella and banana on top. 

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