Posted: Thursday, Oct 20th, 2022

By Visit Ventura

Top 30 Things to Do in Ventura

Hero Image by Josiah Q Roe

Ventura is a place of many many wonders. A beach lover’s dream and an adventurer’s playground. There’s no shortage of fun here in Ventura from chilling out at our beautiful (and uncrowded!) beaches, to taking a tour of our Taco District, and hiking at the Channel Islands just off our coast. Whatever path you choose, you probably won’t want to leave. To get you started, here’s the ultimate list of Top 30 Things to Do in Ventura. Scroll down the page to get your itinerary started or use the map to schedule your activities. Enjoy and wander friends!

Table of Contents

1. Ventura Pier

ventura pier aerial

Why you should go

Built in 1872, the Ventura Pier was once the epicenter of the county’s oil trade, agriculture, and fishing markets. Today, the pier is the heart of the city where people come for an evening stroll over the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Once the longest wooden pier in the state (storms weathered it down) the Ventura Pier is a must-visit landmark in town. 

What to do

Walk to the end of the pier to get the best view of where the horizon blends with the ocean. Bring your dog, your friends, and your family to take pictures as you walk. Grab a bite to eat right on the pier at Eric Ericson’s or Beach House Tacos. Don’t forget to grab a drink at MadeWest. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach and Amanzi Hotel

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2. Ventura Harbor Village 

ventura harbor sunny

Why you should go

The Ventura Harbor Village is a shopping, entertainment, and dining hub in town. Right on the waterfront, the Ventura Harbor Village provides beautiful views of boats coming in and out of the harbor and has great family-friendly fun. 

What to do

What isn’t there to do at the Ventura Harbor Village? Have a date night at Brophy Bros. or a more casual lunch at On the Alley or Andria’s. Play on the water in a kayak or swan boat rental. Make your own chocolate bar at Top This Chocolate. Bring your dog for a morning walk on the waterside walking path. Shop at the many boutiques and specialty shops. The opportunities for fun are endless. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ventura Harbor

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3. Downtown Shopping

downtown shopping

Why you should go

Downtown Ventura is the heart of shopping in the city. Main Street is lined with local businesses and boutiques. Thanks to Main Street Moves, the downtown area is open to pedestrians only allowing visitors to experience a safe stroll down the street. 

What to do

Take a piece of Ventura home by browsing the shelves of Betty Belts, Shop Tiki Girl, Findings Market, Iron & Resin, or Plum Accessories & Boutique just to name a few. But don’t overlook our buzzing thrift shopping downtown either. Buffalo Exchange, Coalition Thrift Store, SPARC Second Chance Store, and GoodWill are popular thrift shopping spots for hidden gems. 

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4. Channel Islands National Park

channel islands

Why you should go

We have a hidden treasure just off our coast. Dubbed the “Galápagos of North America”, The Channel Islands National Park consists of five unique islands perfect for those who want to unplug and get back to the things that matter. Just a quick ferry ride via Island Packers from the Ventura Harbor, you can step into another world and discover 2,000 different plant and animal species of which 150 are found nowhere else in the world. 

What to do

Hike, stargaze, camp, sea cave kayak, and photograph cute furry foxes. Does that entice you yet? The Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country yet it’s one of the most beautiful and untouched. Camp and hike on Santa Cruz Island, one of the more popular islands. Explore some of the world’s best sea caves. Go bird watching on Anacapa Island and make sure to snap a picture of the iconic arch of Anacapa Island. 

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5. Serra Cross at Grant Park

Serra Cross sunset
Courtesy of Jack Burleigh

Why you should go

To put it simply: Grant Park is a must-visit for locals and visitors alike. With panoramic views of the entire downtown area and one of the best spots for sunrise or sunset viewing, Grant Park is home to weddings, events, and moments of reflection and awe. It’s easy enough to get to as well. Going to Grant Park is a no-brainer. 

What to do

Walk or drive up (parking is limited) to Grant Park along the winding hill road with an ever-present view of the blue Pacific Ocean. As you climb up the hill you’ll feel your mindset start to change too. Grant Park and the Serra Cross do something to everyone who visits. Serra Cross is a symbol of perseverance and community to many locals — when the Thomas Fire raged across town in 2017, Serra Cross remained virtually untouched. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Waypoint Ventura and Amanzi Hotel

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6. Ventura Botanical Gardens

botanical gardens drone

Why you should go

Another great spot for beautiful views of our city. Marvel at the 107 acres of 30,000 different plants from the five Mediterranean climate zones of the world (Chile, the Cape of South Africa, Southern Australia, the Mediterranean Basin, and California). Free on Fridays, the Ventura Botanical Gardens is a beautiful way to start the day. 

What to do

Take a self-guided tour through the gardens or request a tour. Attend events hosted at the gardens. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach and Vagabond Inn Ventura

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7. San Buenaventura Mission

Ventura Mission/grotto

Why you should go

The San Buenaventura Mission was founded on Easter Sunday in 1782 as Junipero Serra’s ninth and final mission. Known as the “Mission by the Sea”, the San Buenaventura Mission is full of rich history and beautiful architecture.

What to do

Roam the mission on a self-guided tour daily between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Marvel and learn the history buried in the walls of the mission at your own pace. Reflect in the beautiful garden and grotto or view Michelangelo’s Pietà. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Clocktower Inn

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8. Harmon Canyon

harmon canyon

Why you should go

2,100-acre expanse of natural beauty practically has peace and quiet written all over it. Harmon Canyon will transport you back to early California — look around at the oak groves, coastal sage hillsides, tree-lined creeks, and expansive scenic views. You won’t want to leave. 

What to do

Thanks to the Ventura Land Trust, Harmon Canyon is a hiker’s, cyclist’s, walker’s, and wanderer’s dream. Go up roughly 2.5 miles to uphill trails and look around at the views. Even bring your leashed dog to Harmon Canyon Preserve.

Recommended Hotels Nearby: La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Ventura

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9. Taco District

taco district tacos

Why you should go

Ventura’s Taco District consists of around 14 long-time Mexican restaurants along Ventura Avenue. Taste some of the best Mexican cuisine the city has to offer.

What to do

Spend a whole afternoon chowing down on tacos, enchiladas, burritos, you name it! And if you’re in town, you can’t miss our annual Avenue Taco Week

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Clocktower Inn, and Motel 6 Downtown Ventura

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10. Music & Culture

rubicon theater at night

Why you should go

Ventura’s music and culture scene is thriving. With The Rubicon Theater hosting jaw-dropping theatrical performances and Ventura Music Hall and The Majestic Ventura Theater bringing in big-name artists, a night out on the town isn’t hard to come by. 

What to do

Catch a theater performance at the Rubicon. See show-stopping performances like Switchfoot, Bad Suns, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds at Ventura Music Hall, the music venue in Ventura’s living room. Marvel at the historical Majestic Ventura Theater and enjoy 1920s ambiance while watching bands like Black Flag, Morrissey, and the Neighbourhood. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Waypoint Ventura, Comfort Inn & Suites Ventura Beach, and Ventura Beach Marriott

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11. Bike Trails

biker along rincon parkway

Why you should go

Ventura’s bike trails are like none other. For ocean lovers to mountain lovers, our bike trails won’t disappoint. With views like ours, you might find yourself pulling to the side and taking in the scenery in awe. And that’s okay. We like to enjoy life at a slower speed too. 

What to do

Major bike trails to mention are the California Coastal Trail, a four-mile beachfront route to our neighbors in Carpenteria; The Ojai Valley Trail, a 15-mile route along the Ventura River inland to Ojai with stunning views of the Los Padres Mountains; and The Ventura Beach Promenade, an easy-going and casual bike ride with the family along the Ventura coastline passing the pier and state beaches. Rent bikes from Ventura Bike Depot or Wheel Fun Rentals. 

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12. Happy Hour Downtown

happy hour in ventura

Why you should go

Ventura has no shortage of unique and tasty cocktails. Sip and enjoy the beach views on our coastline. This is what sets Ventura apart from the rest: our small-town chill beach vibes make Ventura the perfect destination for a day with your friends. Pair it with some great food choices around town, Happy Hour in Downtown Ventura always promises a good time.

What to do

Check out our blog on happy hour downtown here. Notable happy hours include spots like Bank of Italy Cocktail Trust, Ventiki Lounge & Lanai, and Winchester’s Grill. The best part about our Main Street bars and restaurants is that everything is within walking distance. Spend an evening downtown going up and down Main Street and you’ll be sure to find the happy hour spot that fits your vibe. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Amanzi Hotel, and Clocktower Inn

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13. Ventura Spirits

ventura spirits tasting

Why you should go

A micro-distillery located in Ventura’s Avenue district, Ventura Spirits adds something special to Ventura’s hub of breweries. Products are distilled, aged, and bottled right in Ventura. 

What to do

Besides having some of the best drinks Southern California offers, stop by their tasting room for a drop-in tasting ($12) or reserve a private tasting and tour. 

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14. Ventura Breweries

ventura breweries

Why you should go

Ventura is quickly becoming a craft brewery hot spot for beer enthusiasts or those who just want a delicious cold one. We even created a Ventura Beer Trail guide for your ease. That’s how serious we are about our beer in Ventura. You don’t want to miss out on sampling some. 

What to do

Are you ready for the endless list? Deep breath. Okay read on for the list of our craft beer breweries: Topa Topa Brewing Company, Ventura Coast Brewing Company, Leashless Brewing, MadeWest Brewery, Transmission Brewing, Rincon Brewery, Seaward Brewing, and Poseidon Brewing Company. The best part about our Ventura Beer Trail? Beach and beer. Enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze while you sip. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Waypoint Ventura, Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, and Motel 6 Ventura South

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15. Patagonia Headquarters and Gift Shop 

patagonia gift shop

Why you should go

One of the most iconic outdoor clothing companies in the world calls our very own town Ventura its home. Ventura is where it all began. Ventura is home to Patagonia’s very first store and the company’s headquarter is based in town. 

What to do

Stock up on quality outdoor clothing for the whole family and check out local events that the business hosts frequently. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Clocktower Inn

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Map of Things to Do

16. Ventura Community Park

Kimball Park
Courtesy of Jack Burleigh

Why you should go

Dig deeper into the community of Ventura. The Ventura Community Park is where locals come for a run, take their dogs out for a walk, and play soccer on the weekends. You’ll be able to rub elbows with people who can give you insider tips about the city too.

What to do

Bring the family and the dog for a field day! Or, burn off some energy at Ventura’s only water park. The Ventura Aquatic Center is located within the park. Have fun sliding down the two water slides and hanging out in the water playground. To go during free swim, make sure to book in advance on their website. Ages two and under have free entry and those older $10 for free swimming sessions.

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Motel 6 Ventura South

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17. Marina Park

Marina Park aerial shot

Why you should go

Looking for a good picnic spot? Or a peaceful walk along the water? Marina Park is your place to go. With a playground fit for kid fun and multiple picnic tables with BBQs, Marina Park is a popular spot to have a family get-together. 

What to do

Field day, picnic celebration, an afternoon beach walk, kayak. The opportunities are endless. Don’t forget to grab some fro-yo from Surf ‘n’ Yogurt just up the street!

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Inn on the Beach, Motel 6 Ventura Beach, and Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort

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18. Olivas Adobe

Olivas Adobe front
Courtesy of Konrad Summers

Why you should go

Step into the past and experience what life was like during California’s rancho-era. History buffs will love walking through the two-story hacienda (during its time Olivas Adobe was the only building of its time in the Santa Clara River Valley). Olivias Adobe celebrates Ventura’s Rancho and Latino heritage.

What to do

Take a $5 tour around Olivas Adobe and get in-depth information about Ventura’s Rancho-era. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ventura Harbor

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19. Emma Wood State Beach

emma wood state beach aerial

Why you should go

Known for dolphin viewings and a great spot for sunset watching, Emma Wood State Beach is a popular beach for locals to spend an afternoon hanging out. In certain seasons, Emma Wood State Beach also has bioluminescent waves. 

What to do

Emma Wood State Beach is one of the most popular beaches for RV and self-contained vehicle camping. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Clocktower Inn and Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach

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20. Arroyo Verde Park

Arroyo Verde Park Ventura
Courtesy of Josiah Roe

Why you should go

Talk about an outdoor lover’s dream park. With around 129 acres of beautiful natural reserves, Arroyo Verde is home to the city’s first and only all-inclusive playground area. Vast grassy spaces will give you a day’s worth of fun. 

What to do

Put your hiking boots on and explore one of Arroyo Verde Park’s hiking trails into the hills. Let the kids have their fun (parents are honorary slide riders) in the all-inclusive playground area. Have a field day with the family and your furry friends. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Ventura

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21. Camino Real Park

Camino Real Park

Why you should go

Located in a residential Ventura neighborhood, Camino Real Park is the epitome of community fun. 

What to do

Let fido make new friends in one of the only fenced dog parks in the city. Gather a game of kickball, softball, or tennis on one of the courts. Three playgrounds are spread across the park for ultimate fun. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Ventura and Motel 6 Ventura South

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22. San Buenaventura State Beach

jolly oyster state beach

Why you should go

Enjoy soft sandy shores and a day playing in the waves. Ventura State Beach Park is a popular spot for buggy boarding and volleyball. 

What to do

Besides enjoying an endless summer year-round at the State Beach Park, stop by Jolly Oyster for unique dishes with seafood at the heart of each meal. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Ventura Beach Marriott, Comfort Inn & Suites Ventura Beach and Pierpont Inn

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23. Harbor Cove Beach/Mother’s Beach

mother's beach

Why you should go

Calm waves, beautiful sunset views, and perfect soft sand for a walk at Harbor Cove Beach— also known as Mother’s Beach by locals— is a great choice for a beach day, especially if you have little ones. The jetties on either side of the beach stop big waves from crashing on the shore which makes it a safe spot for kid beach time. 

What to do

Head over to the Ventura Harbor Village just across the street for a bite to eat after a day full of beach fun. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ventura Harbor

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24. The Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center 

Channel Islands Visitor Center

Why you should go

Learn more about the Channel Islands just off the coast at the visitor center. The visitor center also includes a bookstore, a display of marine aquatic life, and exhibits of marine life from each of the islands. 

What to do

Watch the park movie, “A Treasure in the Sea,” narrated by actor Kevin Costner— it’s well worth the watch! Tidepool Talk and similar events and programs are offered at the visitor center to learn more about the marine life along our coast. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ventura Harbor

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25. Ventura City Hall

city hall

Why you should go

Ventura’s City Hall sits atop the city on iconic C-Street with a view overlooking the downtown area all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It was once the Ventura County Courthouse built in 1912-13. Today it is a historical landmark with the city’s local art and history inside it. 

What to do

Walk through the art which displays the history of visual art in Ventura. Take pictures of the building’s architecture with its iconic and elegant Italian marble foyer. Stand in front of the city hall for a breathtaking view of the downtown area. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Amanzi Hotel, Clocktower Inn, and Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach

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26. Museum of Ventura County

museum of ventura county

Why you should go

A space full of life and art, the Museum of Ventura County celebrates Ventura and the Channel Islands’ history through exhibits and collections. Get lost in its rooms and take a deep dive into what it means to be a Venturan. 

What to do

Local events are hosted in the museum frequently — check here for the schedule. Take a tour of the collections and art and learn more about the county and islands. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Clocktower Inn

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27. Downtown Ventura Farmers’ Market 

Ventura Downtown Farmers' Market basket veggies

Why you should go

Enjoy the gentle ocean breeze blowing through your hair as you walk through the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Recently moved to the block in front of our historical San Buenaventura Mission, the downtown farmers’ market is a great way to start a Saturday morning during your stay in Ventura. 

What to do

Take your pick of the various locally grown fruits and vegetables (definitely not your grocery store produce). This Downtown Ventura Farmers’ Market also has a food court with various hot food choices. Take a seat and spend some time listening to local musicians and chowing down on bites.

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Clocktower Inn, and Waypoint Ventura

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28. Albinger Archaeological Museum

Front of Albinger Archaeological Museum

Why you should go

A true sight indeed: 5 different cultures spanning 3,500 years of history are represented at the Albinger Archaeological Museum. A must-stop for history buffs, discover more about the archaeological digs that were uncovered in 1974. 

What to do

Visit the site to learn more about the communities that once lived in these lands such as Chumash Native Americans and Chinese immigrants. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Amanzi Hotel, Clocktower Inn, and Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach

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29. Yearly Events 

yearly events

Why you should go

Community events bring Ventura together in celebration and remembrance that we truly are better together. Ventura knows how to throw a party. At each yearly event, there’s almost always a guarantee of live music, local eats, and fun. 

What to do

Come into town for the yearly Winter Wine Walk in December; celebrate surf culture in Ventura at the popular Aloha Festival in September; dance and sip during July’s Tequila & Tacos; shop local gifts at the Ventura Fourth of July Parade & Street fair, or sign up for the Ventura Marathon which usually takes place in February. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Waypoint Ventura, and Ventura Beach Marriott

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30. Stop by the Ventura Visitor Center

ventura visitor center

Why you should go

Last but not least, whether you’re new to town or a local, find warm smiles from our staff and volunteers who are more than happy to point you in the right direction of where you want to go. 

What to do

Buy Ventura merch with our iconic Ventura logo ambigram. Ask for food, activity, and lodging recommendations. Hear fun facts about Ventura. 

Recommended Hotels Nearby: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Amanzi Hotel, and Waypoint Ventura

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