Welcome to Ventura!

Welcome to Ventura, GRC friends!

Before we tell you everything you might want to know, we’d first like to thank you for kindly choosing our town for your conference. We’re happy and grateful you are here!

Let’s Get Started (with the fun)

In Ventura, we pretty much major in fun. There’s Ventura Harbor Village, Ventura’s historic Downtown, the adventurous Channel Islands National Park, and Ventura’s fun off-the-beaten-track options. Or maybe you’d like to explore our burgeoning and unique craft brewery and winery scene .There’s something for everyone here. We hope you can enjoy some activities during your downtime.

Whale-Watching

Not to undermine anyone’s work ethic, but life is about work and fun. So when you check-in at either the Ventura Beach Marriott or the Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort, think fun and look for Visit Ventura’s volunteers on Monday. They’ll be manning a table in the lobby. They’ll provide you with any information you need AND a promo code that will save you $4 off any boat trip — including whale watching trips — with Island Packers Cruises. Happy coincidence, you’re here in Ventura at Show Time. Winter is prime whale-watching season here in Ventura, and if you haven’t seen one of the world’s most magnificent creatures, you can remedy that. And it’s as easy as it gets. Island Packers boats leave from Ventura Harbor, which, depending on which hotel you’re in, is either a five-minute or a ten-minute drive (everything in Ventura is close). With this kind of magic so close at hand, it’s a shouldn’t miss.

For more information on Island Packers Cruises, please click here. For a schedule of their whale watching trips, please click here.

Ventura Harbor Village

ventura harbor village

0.8 miles from Four Points by Sheraton
2.7 miles from the Ventura Beach Marriott

Filled with fun in the sun you won’t have to look too far for some picturesque views. Think the Mediterranean coming to Ventura but a much more affordable option. The Ventura Harbor Village even has free parking all around!

Activities

Ventura Boat Rentals provides rental options to kayak, an electric Duffy boat ride around the harbor and even paddleboarding. So many options that would only take about an hour of your time. Perfect to start off your sunny day in Ventura. Let the stresses of the day melt away as you paddle away from the boardwalk. Or take the uber relaxing boat ride with a bottle of wine and view all the various fun names on the boats.

The harbor carousel and arcade will help you embrace your inner child. Take a break and grab your friends because the only limit to your fun will be when you run out of tokens.

The Ultimate Escape Rooms at the Harbor have various themes for you to test to see how well you and your friends work together. There will be approximately 8-10 members assisting the escape whether you bring your own group or not. If you do not bring 8 participants you may anticipate other strangers joining in on the fun. If you would like to make reservations for your group call ahead. (805) 256-6600. Make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled escape and anticipate spending approximately an hour trying to get out – if you can!

Channel Islands Visitor Center has the option to learn more about the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary without making a day trip out to the islands. Featuring a tidal pool museum, educational lectures, and even a replica of the pygmy mammoth skeleton found on Santa Rosa Island in 1992.

Retail

Take a stroll around the Ventura Harbor Village to check out the cute shops along the boardwalk. Check out super wacky socks at Lost in Socks and see which one of your friends can find the silliest. Crazy sock day has the potential to be every day with the right attitude.

Try on exaggerated hats at Hats Unlimited and take selfies as a pirate or maybe a cute relaxed sun hat to block your eyes from the sunny day. The Harbor Hatter will greet you at the door and you won’t even have to fall down a magic rabbit hole to get there!

At the Mermaid Gallery, they have artwork that would make the evil sea witch envious. Don’t worry, we only have mermaids and a pirate ship at Marina Park – no sea witches!

Shop for souvenirs at Casa de Regalos or Ventura Harbor Gallery and Gifts to take home with you to make sure you never forget about your memorable trip to Ventura.

Dining

Lunchtime at the Harbor means delicious seafood. There are so many diverse options it will be difficult to choose. Andria’s Seafood Restaurant and Market have incredible clam chowder with a fresh bread bowl and fish n chips that go great with a beer. The very laid back atmosphere if you’re looking for something casual.

Sweet Tooths’ will swarm here as well. Between Top This Chocolate where you can customize your chocolate with gummy worms, potato chips, and pretzels or Coastal Cone with the famous fish-shaped waffle cone. Either option will be as delicious as it is visually appealing.

Fratelli’s Pizza and Brew has various types of brick over pizza including but not limited to BBQ chicken pizza Margherita pizza all with fresh and delicious ingredients. Brew with a view and delicious too! Happy Hour is from 3 pm – 6 pm, Monday through Friday.

Brophy Bros has delicious seafood and a Bloody Mary to die for. Located just above Fratelli’s pizza and brew so the great view continues from a different level. Clams, oysters or calamari, Brophy’s is the place to go. Happy Hour is from 3 pm – 6 pm, Monday through Friday.

Although, since you already have the Greek paradise weather at the harbor, you may want to accompany it with Greek food and dancing. Dinner and a show are what you’ll find at the Greek. Renovated in 2007 by the world-renowned Gordon Ramsey, the Greek Seafood and Mediterranean Restaurant bring cultural diversity that tastes delicious to the Ventura Harbor Village. Happy hour begins at 2 pm, Monday through Friday.

Start your adventure here!

Downtown Ventura

downtown ventura

2.0 miles from the Ventura Beach Marriott
3.8 miles from Four Points by Sheraton

Historic Downtown San Buenaventura is extremely walkable. Just a few blocks from Main Street is the beach. Free parking lots are going to be located all around the downtown area. Walk along Main Street or go dip your toes in the sand. Whatever you decide, you do you.

Activities

The Ventura Botanical Gardens are right behind City Hall, and there is plenty of free parking. A lovely display of stunning plants is rivaled by a high-in-the-hills panoramic ocean view. The Gardens are closed on Monday, and there is no entry fee on Tuesdays. The rest of the week they are open from 9 am to 5 pm, and the entry fee is $7. GRC organizers, the Botanical Gardens has kindly offered free tours for your groups. Tours can be set up based on the availability of docents. All docent-led tours are free as long as they have been scheduled in advance. The Gardens folks will need to know how many people are in your group, the date and time you would like, and how long a tour you would like. They would also like to know if you would like a Botanical Tour or a General Overview Tour. Please call the kind Lorie McWhirter at 805-798-7108 or email her at loriemcw@yahoo.com to arrange your tour. You won’t be sorry!

As you continue further, Grant Park is identifiable with the large wooden Cross. Anywhere you walk around Downtown will have a historic backstory. If you are looking for a Walkable Self Guided Historic walking tour, just come by our Ventura Visitors Center for a brochure.

Just a few blocks in the opposite direction of Main Street is where you will find the Ventura Pier and Promenade. Walk along the pier and see where it used to be used for commerce although now is used for recreation and fishing. Try the new MadeWest Taproom on the 2nd floor of the Ventura Pier to experience a mild buzz with a great view.

Bike Rentals: 

Wheel Fun Rentals will have you smiling all up and down the Ventura Promenade. These fun four-wheeled surrey bikes are available to rent by the hour, at the Crowne Plaza, Four Points by Sheraton, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Ventura Beach Marriott, Ventura Pier, and the Ventura State Beach Picnic Area. Locate them with their light blue tiled roofs. Not particularly into cycling? They also have boogie boards available to rent by the hour.

There is also Ventura Bike Depot where you can rent a bike to ride along the promenade all the way to the pier for some incredible beer and fish tacos (Beach House Taco has a happy hour Tuesday & Thursday starting at 3 pm.) For those not particularly into cycling, they have electric bikes to make your life just a little bit easier.

Retail

Walking along Main Street is its own experience. You get the uniquely eclectic Downtown lined with local retail businesses and locally diverse restaurants that would support families who have put their heart and soul into making their business the best it can be. Although our businesses in Ventura are smaller, our hearts and compassion are bigger than ever.

Seaglass jewelry store, Betty Belts, is located just above the Polynesian restaurant and bar, Ventiki. Also what you will find up and down Main Street are dozens of thrift and antique stores.

Industry Horror has fun and grunge clothing that goes to a good cause. All of their super rad products are created by locals with autism. I’m sure I don’t have to say so, but yes they are made with love just like everything else in Ventura.

People from all over the country and world come to the infamous Calico Cat Bookshop. Become engulfed with literary magic and be sure that nowhere else you will find these hard to find books. Please carve out a sufficient amount of time as you may accidentally lose track.

Stroll while you sip, VomFass has free taste testing in El Jardin Courtyard. Whether it be a rose liqueur, whiskey or olive oil. Expect the unexpected.

Shop for souvenirs to reminisce your time in Ventura than none other than our Ventura Visitors Center. Here we have free stickers, distressed mugs, shirts and even water bottles all with our iconic Ventura ambigram logo.

Dining

If you are looking for a flavorful light and yet filling lunch that will make you feel better after all those other sweets, look no further than Nature’s Grill. With healthy smoothies being their most popular item, other than that they also have Avocado Chicken burgers with whole wheat buns and even vegetarian nachos that will be tasty and filling with organic blue chips.

Spencer Makenzie’s is named after the owner’s children and is quite the popular local gem known for their fish tacos!  Do yourself a favor and order it Brooklyn Style with a side of Sweet Chili Sauce. You’re welcome!

At Ventiki, sacrifice your slice of lime through the flames to ensure a flavorful (and often very strong) tribute to the gods. Happy hour is all day on Tuesdays so if you’re looking to have a bit of fun on a budget, this is definitely the place to be.

The Mediterranean patio at Rumfish y Vino is picturesque as you sip on their strawberry basil mojitos during happy hour Monday through Friday starting at 3 pm. Great deals on the food are also included. Local swarm here because it feels more like a vacation on the Greek Islands right in the heart of Ventura.

Start your adventure here!

Off the Beaten Path

arroyo verde park ventura

You won’t have to stray far to try these Ventura hidden gems. Luckily for us, everything is within 10 minutes of each location without the headache of the overwhelming traffic that our metropolitan neighbors provide. Regardless of where you head, the fun can be found around every corner.

Activities

Laser Tag, bumper cars and an arcade! There is no limit of fun no matter what you do at Golf N’ Stuff. The competition will become quite fierce!

If you’re looking for an invigorating hike with incredible views, look no further than Arroyo Verde Park. The iconic two trees will lead you the way to keeping Ventura in your heart forever.

All along the Ventura Avenue will be the most populated murals in all of Ventura with a story behind each piece of artwork. Other than the Taco District, Ventura Avenue is also rich in culture that the colorful artwork on the walls proudly displays. Play a game, how many can you count?

Retail

Looking for chain stores? You won’t find them in Downtown Ventura, but instead at Pacific View Mall. Stock up on some of the most popular brands in the country.

Salzer’s Records is the kind of record store you remember, with a sweeping collection that actually comes close to covering music’s vast sweep. Added fun, there’s sassy clothing and gifts. Some of it, you have to see to believe.

La Catrina is on Main Street but a bit further down from our walkable Downtown. They provide authentic Mexican knick nacks that would make Frida Khalo beam with pride.

Dining

The Ventura Wine Company has a restaurant with the inside designed like a Cave. Immerse yourself in the wild world of copious wines scattered around the walls with the selection of the ounces you would like. Other than delicious wine, they also have a wide variety of food to die for. Pick up your card and start sipping at The Cave!

Stephen’s Market and Grill provides the freshest Greek and Mediterranean cuisine to Ventura just a bit east on Main Street.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream offers 26 delicious flavors of ice cream, yogurt, and gelato all from scratch since 1949.

The Ventura Avenue is famously referred to as the Taco District, with 12 family-owned Mexican restaurants the flavors will bring authenticity. If you’re looking for takeout, Johnny’s Mexican Food never disappoints. If you’re looking for dine-in, Taqueria Tepatitlan has bountiful plates with micheladas that will pair perfectly with your specialty dishes.

Start your adventure here!

Check out Ventura’s beer & wine scene! We have over ten breweries and wine pouring all over town.

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