Ventura’s Stroll Through History

From Mission San Buenaventura founded in 1782, to the classic 1912 City Hall and birthplace of the Perry Mason novels, Ventura has retained a strong sense of its past, traditions and architecture.

Day One


Begin the perfect day with a coffee and pastry at one of downtown Ventura’s specialty cafes before picking up a free Downtown Ventura Historic Walking Tour Guide at the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Now, your California history adventure begins. Picturesquely set along Main Street, Mission San Buenaventura is noted as Father Serra’s last masterpiece with its elegant courtyard, statues of saints and 250-year-old paintings. The mission museum, church sanctuary and peaceful grounds are inviting places through which to wander.

Next, ancient wonders and 3,500 years of history unfold at the nearby Albinger Archaeological Museum where you can view the archaeological digs from a viewing platform up Valdez Alley.

Just paces away is the J. Comstock Fire Museum – a tribute to heroic firefighters of ages past. Next, walk on over to the Ortega Adobe birthplace of the famous Ortega Green Chilies and the last remaining original adobe of many that once lined Main Street in the 1800s.


On your way to lunch at one of downtown’s quaint cafes, check out Ventura’s eclectic mix of architecture including Victorian, mission-style, Craftsman, Neoclassical, Cape Cod, Mediterranean and more.

Distinctive rotating and permanent collections at the Museum of Ventura County are definitely worth exploring before you stroll up California Street toward San Buenaventura City Hall. Both historic and grand, this neoclassical structure overlooks city and sea from its picturesque perch.

Just a few miles from the heart of downtown is the must-see Olivas Adobe – an immaculately restored Spanish rancho estate known for its elegant grounds that often play host to special events.


Now’s your chance to soak up the views and sentimental vibes along the Old Coast Highway before landing in Ventura Harbor Village for an evening of dining, sunset views and peaceful marina scenery. Complete your evening by making reservations for an entertaining historic walking tour where local storytellers share eye-opening lore of downtown’s ghosts, rich history and colorful characters.

Day Two


Grab an invigorating breakfast along the waterfront or harbor areas before heading over to Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center. Here, fascinating displays, exhibits and marine life tell the story “then” and “now” of the magnificent Channel Islands National Park.


Pack a picnic lunch for your breathtaking excursion out to Channel Islands National Park. Plants and animals found nowhere else on earth (such as the Island Scrub Jay) make the boat ride well worth the trip – as do the marine life you’ll spot from deck! Full and half day excursions are available as well as docent-guided walks, hiking, sea cave kayaking, camping, diving and whale watching.


Courtyard cafes, historic venues and grills with gusto serve up a great experience for both casual and fine dining in Ventura’s downtown district. Looking for evening entertainment? The Rubicon Theater is known for offering big talent in an intimate setting, while The Livery Theatre presents a lively mix of drama and improvisational comedy.

Day Three


Rise and shine – the wonders of Heritage Valley await! Pristine orchards and orange groves will salute you as you drive through the “Citrus Valley of the World.” Hop aboard the Fillmore and Western Railway, an antique train offering rides through gorgeous country to quaint Santa Paula.  Once in Santa Paula, visit the popular California Oil Museum, which chronicles the history of this region’s oil industry; the Santa Paula Art Museum, the Aviation Museum and the Agricultural Museum of Ventura County.


If you happen to be in Ventura on the first Sunday of the month, take the time to tour downtown Ventura’s historic Dudley House. Admission is free, and the grand Victorian occasionally hosts teas, mystery plays and other events.

Another great option is the beautifully curated Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, about 45 minutes south of Ventura.


Dinner sounds good, huh? How about a casual, “beachy” experience at one of the hot spots along the Seaward Avenue Beach District? Many of these funky, affordable and delicious cafes are extremely popular with visitors and locals alike!

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