Sandwiched between glamorous Malibu and chic Santa Barbara, the seaside cities of Oxnard and Ventura offer the quintessential laid-back California beach vacation—without breaking the bank, says TravelingMom contributor Mimi Slawoff of Los Angeles. You’ll find secluded beaches with free parking and smaller crowds than their big-name neighbors, a clean boardwalk for riding bikes or skating along, and an array of kid-friendly water sports. There’s a pirate ship at Marina Beach Park in Ventura where little ones can play while older kids kayak through the sea caves at the nearby Channel Islands. (The water is so clear you can see colorful fish without snorkeling.) Ventura is also the gateway to Channel Islands National Park. There, you can catch a wave in the surf or a ride on the Ventura Downtown-Harbor Trolley.