Why exiting at California Street is worth it, even if you only have 15 minutes

by Mike Anderson

Ventura has so much to see and do just a mile off the freeway.  We invite you to stay a while but if you are limited on time, here are a few ideas starting with 15 minutes for a beautiful pit stop in one of California’s original beach towns.

If you only have 15 minutes…

Exit California Street, turn right & go up to the top of California Street… You will see city Hall, it’s a picturesque spot. At the top of California you will turn left onto Poli Street, you will then turn right on the first street (beside City Hall)  This road will take you up to the top of the hillside, Grant Park, “The Cross” is up there… many amazing views of the ocean and downtown area (a popular spot for lovebirds seeking romance in nature on the weekends).

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On your way back down the hill you’ll find Main Street and cruise down, lots of cool shops & spots but to close out your 15 minutes you can drive by the Patagonia Headquarters before hoping back onto the freeway… Yep, Patagonia is founded here in Ventura and they’ve always been at the cool spot right at the end of Main Street. Stop by the Great Pacific Iron Works store for discounted items.

If you have 30-45 minutes

You can do the above-mentioned items but also park down at the Ventura County Fairgrounds (it says $5 but is usually free). It’s across the street from the famous C-Street surf spot… this is the location sang about in many songs and well known in the surf community.  It’s a great promenade… you can walk down to the Pier and back in 15-20 minutes.  Great walk, nice views…  The taco place on the pier is a good spot if you want a snack.  I might add that it’s a wonderful experience to see the view from the hillside and shortly thereafter be walking along the beach you were moments previously viewing from afar… very cool feeling.  It’s truly a uniquely beautiful spot in CA.

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If all of the above looks good and you’re still looking for yet more to do in Ventura…

You could take the short drive (1mile) along the coast to 1106 Seaward Avenue. A great spot along the beach… Very good restaurant called “Social Tap”  if you’re looking for a beer. Hit Social Tap or a spot downtown. Paradise Pantry downtown is a great wine spot and the chicks dig it!

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And if you’re looking for an activity…

You might park over at the fairgrounds, walk to the pier, walk across the freeway overpass, walk to Main Street,  walk down past the Ventura Mission, walk up Valdez Alley, cross Poli Street at the top, and go up the street going up the hill to Grant Park…  walk along Grant Park and walk down the Ventura Botanical Gardens (puts you out directly behind City Hall, California Street).

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Walk down California Street. Turn right on Main Street, walk back to the mission, Turn LEFT at the mission and walk down to the beach (on Figueroa Street).  This will put you back at your parking spot.  It’s a fantastic loop, and if I were with you and we had 2 hours… this is exactly what we would do. I love this urban hike. You get the beach, you get downtown, you get the hillside views and the beach again (and there are a few spots to stop for a beer and food along the way).

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