Welcome to Ventura!

We are so happy you’re here!

29 years of Gordon Research Conferences in Ventura and counting -that’s something to celebrate. Thousands of scientists from around the world descend on our small piece of paradise on California’s Central Coast leading to thousands of after-conference happy hours and beach sunsets; thousands of whale watching and island wildlife cruises; thousands of craft brews and fish tacos.

Whether you prefer Ventura Harbor Village, Ventura’s historic Downtown, the adventurous Channel Islands National Park or Ventura’s fun off the beaten track options. There’s something for everyone here.

1. Ventura Harbor Village

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!

ventura harbor village

Activities

Ventura Boat Rentals provides options to kayak, take a 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.

Dare to escape? Hardly!

The Ultimate Escape Rooms at the Harbor have various themes for you to test to see how well you and your friends work together. We are not responsible for the tension rising. At least you have the option to get ice cream afterward whether you make it out in time or not! Coastal Cone makes everything better.

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.

ventura harbor village boat rentals

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.

hats unlimited ventura harbor village

Dining

Le Petit Cafe is where you should definitely pick up some coffee to start the day. Get that jolt of caffeine or a delicious pastry from the French bakery on the Harbor.

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.

ventura harbor village the greek restaurant

2. Downtown Ventura

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.

downtown ventura main street

Activities

The Ventura Botanical Gardens are just stepping behind the City Hall that used to formerly be the courthouse for the county. With phenomenal architecture all around it’s just a small taste of what you will experience while hiking the gardens. With the largest exhibit of Chilean plants outside of the country of Chile, our perfect weather is extremely habitable for these exotic plants. The higher you go the better the view gets. Expect a refreshing breeze and views of the Channel Islands the further you continue the fabulous stroll.

As you continue further, Grant Park is identifiable with the large wooden Cross that Father Serra Junipero used to provide identification to settlers searching for Catholicism refuge. You can see a bronze statue of him in front of City Hall as he continues to look over the city of fortune we call Ventura. Anywhere you walk around Downtown will have a historic backstory. City Hall used to previously be the courthouse with the faces of the iconic friars assisting the Father in keeping an eye on the city. 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.

Along the promenade, you can rent one of the most exciting bikes you’ll ever ride. Four-wheel surrey bikes for you and a friend. Make sure you wear a helmet, it’s going to get a little crazy depending on your group of friends of course. Wheel Fun Rentals will have you smiling all up and down the Ventura Promenade.

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.

bike ventura botanical gardens

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 Bank of Books. 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.

downtown ventura shopping

Dining

If you are looking for coffee and pastries, there are going to be a few options other than the world-famous Starbucks on Chestnut. While Starbucks is good, our locals are the best (objectively speaking of course.) Just across the street on Chestnut, there is Marie Shannons Confections who will be almost guaranteed to be in the kitchen preparing fresh pastries and cakes. Tiramisu, cookies and oh so delicious muffins. This is a cheat day that won’t make you feel so guilty.

Continuing along Main Street there is also a Cafe du Suro with more of a European vibe with their drinks and pastries. Maple bacon croissants and delectable chocolate-filled croissants, you will want to order more than one because one will definitely not be enough.

Just about another local business ever there is another coffee shop that has its own twist. Incredible coffee in Ventura is a given, but Palermo also has gelato! Whether you have them separately or together you also have the option to stroll through their gift shop in the back of the cafe to see if anything catches your eye and screams “buy me!”

If you are looking for breakfast and milkshakes, take a time machine or just head over to Busy Bee Cafe with vinyl decorations, jukeboxes with coin slots, and red checkered floors. After a couple of their spiked milkshakes, you will most definitely break out into song.

But please, we beg of you, do not dance on the tables no matter how tempting it will be!

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.

Across the way, there is Snapper Jack’s one of the couple of most recommended taco places in Ventura. Most frequented by a local that made it to Hollywood but he would also still say he prefers Spencer Makenzie home of the world-famous fish taco. Spencer Makenzie’s is named after the owner’s children and is quite the popular local gem. While lines are not something that is common in Ventura, this place is slightly the exception. On a sunny day at around noon, expect there to be a short wait. But it will be worth it because the size of their fish tacos is legendary. Also, do yourself a favor and order it Brooklyn Style with a side of Sweet Chili Sauce. You’re welcome!

spencer makenzies ventura

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 3pm. 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.

ventura ventiki bar and restaurant

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