Top Attractions for First-Time Visitors

Ventura packs a lot of punch for a relatively small city. From scenic beaches and lively harbors to historic museums and unique parks, you’ll have no shortage of memorable sights and experiences. Here are some of the top attractions you won’t want to miss on your first trip to Ventura:

Ventura Pier and Promenade

No trip to Ventura is complete without a stroll down the historic Ventura Pier and Promenade. First opened in 1872, the 1,958 foot wooden Ventura Pier stretches out over the Pacific, offering panoramic ocean views. Walk to the very end to watch local fishermen reel in the catch of the day. Back on the beach, take in the sights along the bustling Ventura Promenade. On weekends, you’ll often find live music performances, arts and craft fairs, and street performers to entertain the crowds. The Ventura Pier area also has plenty of beachside cafes, surf shops, ice cream parlors, and souvenir stands to explore.

Mission San Buenaventura

History buffs will love touring Ventura’s founding mission. Founded in 1782 by Father Junipero Serra, Mission San Buenaventura was the ninth and last mission established along California’s coast. Take a self-guided audio tour of the grounds to see original adobe buildings, a small museum, gardens, and the charming “secret” garden located behind the church. Don’t miss the stunning rose window inside the church, containing stained glass from the late 1800s.

Ventura Harbor Village

Just south of downtown lies Ventura Harbor, a lively complex filled with seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, boat rentals, and harbor cruises. Watch the fishermen unload their catch, then grab lunch or dinner at one of the harbor’s many casual eateries. For epic ocean views, hop aboard Island Packers Cruises for a trip to Santa Cruz or Anacapa Islands. You can also charter fishing boats, paddles boards, electric boats, kayaks, sailboats, bike rentals and surreys at Ventura Boat Rentals. Top off your visit with homemade ice cream at Coastal Cone.

Lake Casitas Recreation Area

Grab your swimming suit and hiking boots to explore the outdoor recreation at Lake Casitas. Anglers of all ages will love fishing the stocked lake, where you can catch largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill and more. Take a dip in the swim area and floating water playground or hit the hiking trails around the lake. Other activities include camping, boating, kayaking, and birdwatching at this family-friendly park located just outside the city.

Olivas Adobe Historical Park

Travel back in time at this historic Mexican rancho built in 1847. Tour the adobe home filled with period furnishings and artifacts. Outside, stroll through fragrant gardens, a vineyard, and citrus groves surrounding the property. Kids will love visiting the livestock, including chickens, turkeys, donkeys, and sheep. Special events held at the park range from Outdoor Movie Nights to Day of the Dead celebrations. Olivas Adobe offers a glimpse into Ventura’s cultural history and rustic ranch-style living.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

Nature lovers, rejoice! Ventura Botanical Gardens offers a stunning oasis just minutes from downtown. Explore the 109-acre property to discover a dozen unique gardens showcasing exotic plants from Mediterranean climates around the world. Highlights include the Demonstration Garden, a Children’s Garden with hands-on art activities, and tranquil waterfall views from the Grotto Garden. Check the event calendar for guided tours, yoga in the gardens, art classes, and musical performances. The gardens are still a work in progress, but already provide a gorgeous setting for a peaceful urban getaway.

How to Get Around Ventura

Ventura’s compact size and beach town vibe make it easy to explore on foot. But you’ll still need to know the best ways to travel between your hotel, attractions, and restaurants. Here’s a quick look at your transportation options:

Ventura County Interstate Transportation Commission (VCTC) Buses

VCTC operates several bus routes that cover the city of Ventura and connect to nearby towns. Single ride fares start at $1.50, with day passes available. The most useful routes for visitors are the #6 bus which connects Ventura Harbor to downtown and #16 bus providing service along Main Street. VCTC also offers a free trolley that loops from the downtown transit center to the beach and pier area.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis and rideshares like Uber and Lyft operate throughout Ventura. This is a handy option for quick point-to-point trips if you don’t feel like waiting for the bus. Prices vary but expect to pay around $10-15 for a 5-mile ride. Keep in mind rates may surge during peak times.

Charter Buses

For ultimate convenience and comfort, consider a charter bus rental for your group. Charter Ventura works with local bus rental companies to offer charter bus services throughout Ventura and surrounding areas. Whether you need an airport shuttle or transportation for a corporate outing, wedding, school field trip or other event, we can provide the ideal vehicle for your group. Perks include: Professional driver to handle navigation and parking Climate control and spacious seating Luggage and equipment storage Entertainment like WiFi, TV/DVD, stereo Customized route and schedule Passenger safety as top priority Ready to book a charter bus for your Ventura trip? Call Charter Ventura at 213-354-7131 today for a free quote!