Why I Love Living in Ventura

By Michelle Madsen

When I graduated from Buena High in 2013 (go Bulldogs!), I knew I was in no rush to get out of Ventura. With my chosen school, Pepperdine University (go Waves!), just an hour away, I knew I could access my charming hometown any time I wanted. Not even for one second have I regretted it.

Buena High School, where I spent the better part of my teenage years.

Buena High School, where I spent the better part of my teenage years.

I’ve lived in Ventura, California my whole life. In the same house. To some, that may seem boring, considering I’m halfway through my college career (don’t worry, I can’t believe it either) and have entered my 20s (I repeat, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT EITHER). But I’ve never grown tired of it.

Let’s back up. I wasn’t actually born here. I was adopted as a baby from China and brought straight to Ventura, my biological mother hoping I’d have a better life. It’s a beautiful story, really–selflessness, love, gratitude, it’s all a part of the package. I remember hearing my elementary school teachers tell us how fortunate we were to get to grow up in a place like Ventura, but since five-year-olds typically don’t have much mental capacity to comprehend alternate situations, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Growing up, I quickly learned that Ventura has everything. We have an extensive variety of grocery stores, gyms, doctors, dentists, a hospital that’s REALLY close to my house, great schools, two (!) Targets, a Barnes & Noble, local shops and restaurants, frozen yogurt, a mall, parks, and the BEACH. Whew. I could list a whole lot more. With more than 100,000 people living here, there must be both necessary and fun things, right? Basically, anything you could ever need is here. And if it’s something fancy, like Disneyland or Los Angeles, it’s just a couples hours away.


When you see this sign as you’re walking down Main St., you’ve found one of the coolest coffee shops in Ventura.



Incredible Thai food. I recommend the yellow curry with chicken.



My childhood at Camino Real Park in a nutshell.



Beautiful pathway through Camino Real.



Balance was such a simpler concept as a kid, wasn’t it?


I can’t tell you how many fantastic memories I have of living in this city for 20 years–the late night trips to WinCo Foods with my friends, the afternoons hitting colored balls at Golf ‘n’ Stuff, the birthday parties at the Ventura Aquatic Center. I fell in love with the December version of downtown Ventura when I watched the tree lighting, and I live for the 4th of July fireworks that I can see from my house. Even taking a summer class at Ventura College was a positive experience, as I took care of my science requirement while meeting super nice people and having a caring professor.


Where I took my summer biology class. Thanks, VC!

And now here I am, ending my summer internship at the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau. I’ve learned about commitment, a workplace that isn’t located on my campus, and my skills as a communication major so that I can one day figure out what I’d like to do for the rest of my life (gulp). From calling businesses to blogging to folding my fair share of t-shirts, I’ve had quite the pleasant time promoting the city I’ve inhabited practically since birth, and I hope that you have an equally pleasant time discovering it.


Stop by to ask for directions, pick up some Ventura souvenirs, or simply meet some of the finest locals we have to offer. You’ll be glad you did–I promise.

All photos by yours truly.