The 15 Best Things To Do In Ventura (2024): A Weekend Getaway Guide

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Want to know all the best things to do in Ventura on the ultimate weekend getaway? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

Best Things To Do In Ventura

Ventura, California is a coastal city with a lot to offer visitors.

From its beautiful beaches and charming downtown to its world-class museums and historical landmarks, there is something for everyone in Ventura.

Here are all the best things to do in Ventura!

1. Take A Stroll Through Downtown Ventura

Downtown Ventura is a charming and historic area of the city that is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

The heart of downtown is Main Street, which is lined with historic buildings and palm trees.

Here you will find a variety of shops, including boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops.

There are also a number of restaurants to choose from, offering everything from casual fare to fine dining.

2. San Buenaventura Mission

We like to go to museums and places with tours first thing when they open so we can have a more relaxing experience.

No crowds means we can get all the photos and videos we want while also taking our time!

In general, the museum, garden, gift shop, and church are open to the public each day from 10 am to 5 pm with some exceptions for major holidays.

They are always closed for New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Of course whenever masses are being held the church will be off limits too.

Touring the mission is self-guided and is only $5, even less for seniors, military, and kids!

Every mission we’ve visited has had a really nice courtyard garden that is well maintained and always peaceful and quiet.

I would love a backyard with all these trees, plants, and fountains!

The vast majority of missions have a very similar architecture when it comes to their churches.

Since most have been restored and are actively used as churches, they all differ in their current decor, which is nice to see.

To me, the mission churches remind me of the churches I saw when I visited Ecuador.

They’re usually very long and narrow with wings on either side in the front and/or back of the church.

3. Antique Shopping in Downtown Ventura

After touring the mission, a great activity in Downtown Ventura is antique shopping!

There are a few gift shop type stores, but even more secondhand and antique shops.

The crystal decanter set on the left we actually bought for ourselves.

It was hand-crafted in Yugoslavia, which has not even been a country in my lifetime.

We have had some great antique finds over the years, so we always stop in when we find an antique shop.

The self-control to not buy every interesting thing we find is hard though!

4. Have Lunch In A Historic Bank At Finney’s Crafthouse

I am so excited we found this restaurant in Downtown Ventura.

It is located in the old bank building and they did a really nice job with the decor.

Finney’s Crafthouse is a growing chain with locations in Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Porter Ranch, Burbank, Orange, Camarillo, and Laguna Beach!

They serve so many of our go-to foods that it was hard to narrow down what to try for this visit.

We tried to get a good mix, so we went with deviled eggs, cheesesteak egg rolls, and chili cheese brats!

All of it was amazing and we can’t wait to go back to one of their locations closer to us to try even more on the menu!

5. Golf N’ Stuff

This mini golf and arcade place is technically in Ventura, but to me it seems more so halfway between Ventura and Oxnard.

It’s a little over 5 miles from Downtown Ventura, so not far at all.

We happened to be here on Halloween in the afternoon, so lots of kids were there all dressed up, which was cute.

There are 2 mini golf courses, an indoor arcade, some bumper boats, and I think even go-karts.

There’s lots to do here and it’s right off the freeway, so easy to find.

What I liked about our course is that it had some of the more common features like castles, but it also had a replica of a mission which is unique to this area.

6. Take A Boat Out To Santa Rosa Island

Fun fact, there is a National Park just off the coast of Ventura!

The company Island Packers is the only one that charters boats out to Channel Islands National Park and we were graciously hosted by them on this trip to one of the islands.

Some trips will depart from Ventura Harbor Village, while others depart from Oxnard.

The harbors are maybe only 10 minutes from each other and it just depends on which island you’re going to.

They are great for day trips, but you can also camp overnight if you’d like!

Follow this itinerary for a day trip out to Santa Rosa Island: Channel Islands National Park (Santa Rosa Island) Day Trip Itinerary

7. Take A Boat Out To Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is another one of the Channel Islands you can visit on a day trip or camp overnight.

It’s much closer than Santa Rosa, so it’s a great island to visit for first timer’s.

Follow this itinerary for a day trip out to Santa Cruz Island: Channel Islands National Park (Santa Cruz Island) Day Trip Itinerary

8. Learn To Surf At Mondos Beach

What better way to learn to surf than in Ventura, California?

Mondos Beach is a smaller beach just north of town where the Santa Barbara Surf School holds their lessons.

It’s a fun activity everyone should try at least once in their lives.

? Click Here To Book Your Surf Lesson Today!

9. Sunburst Rail Bikes In Santa Paula

The Sunburst Rail Bikes are a great hidden gem just outside of Ventura.

This is about a 3 hour excursion on electric assisted tandem bikes on an old railroad track.

A helmet is provided and you’ll have a basket for your bags, water, snacks, sunscreen, etc.

In the first 10 minutes or so of your tour, you’ll visit Prancer’s Farm and Petting Zoo where you can buy local produce and snacks before heading out to the end of the line.

This is about a 30 minute stop.

During Fall, there are more activities while they celebrate their Fall festival.

During Winter, they have Christmas trees.

Once you’ve made it just about to Fillmore, you’ll turn back around and make your way back to the Santa Paula Rail Depot.

?? Click Here To Book Your Sunburst Rail Bikes Tour Today!

10. Museum of Agriculture

At the rail depot is an agricultural museum that is free for visitors.

There are lots of interactive play areas if you have children with you where they can pretend to run their own farmer’s market, play with trucks and tractors, and even get their photo up on a real tractor.

The garden out back is also really nice and there are signs with fun facts about each area of the garden and fun jokes about bees and flowers.

This museum is a quick stop of maybe 30 minutes or so, depending on if you have kids that just want to play.

Museum of Agriculture - Santa Paula, California

11. Historic Downtown Santa Paula

This historic main street has plenty of boutique shops, antique shops, and local restaurants.

historic downtown Santa Paula, California

I recommend stopping in for lunch at El Capricho Restaurant and Cantina for Chicken Mole Enchiladas before browsing all the antique and thrift shops.

12. Olivas Adobe Historical Park

This two story adobe home was built in 1847 and is a historic landmark.

On the weekends, you can take a docent led tour through the property.

They are currently open on Sundays from 11 am – 3 pm.

Tours are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children.

We happened to visit when they were setting up for a wedding, so no tours were available, but you can always call in advance to confirm.

13. Heritage Square Park

Heritage Square Park is a small historical center in Oxnard, California.

A variety of historic homes from the area were picked up and moved here in 1991 to create this space.

My personal favorite is the perfectly intact Victorian home.

Each of these homes are now businesses with a variety of services such as restaurants, wine tasting, and more.

It’s a popular photo spot for wedding parties and quinceneras.

14. Rancho Ventavo Wine Tasting Room

One of the historic homes in Heritage Square Park has a wine tasting room by Rancho Ventavo.

They have 2 tasting menus, each one is $10.

All the wines are red wines with varying degrees of dryness, boldness, and flavors.

We tried both tasting menus and took home a few bottles of our favorites including the Tempranillo.

They have a few red blends that are a mix of all of their wines with fun names like “Yes Dear” and “Whatever Dear”.

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15. 1901 The Speakeasy

1901 is a restaurant in one of the historic homes at Heritage Square Park.

But did you know in the cellar they have a speakeasy?

The speakeasy not only has a full bar menu, but they also serve the full restaurant menu.

I recommend trying the Prohibition Punch or going with a classic like the Old Fashioned.

If you’re here for more than just the drinks, they have a great dinner menu with appetizers.

I recommend starting with a cup of Corn Chowder.

For dinner, we enjoyed the Risotto and the Shrimp Scampi.

Where to Stay Near Ventura – Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor

We had a nice corner room, which was a bit of an upgrade from the Standard King rooms.

We had a nice balcony with a view of the harbor and we were less than 10 minutes from where we needed to catch our boat out to Channel Islands.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor Today!

More Fun Places To Go Near Ventura

Ventura is essentially the southernmost end of California’s central coast.

Within just a couple of hours of driving north there are some really cool places to visit.

✅ Santa Barbara To Solvang Weekend Getaway

Santa Barbara and Solvang are only about 45 minutes away from each other, so they are easy destinations to pair together for a weekend getaway.

Santa Barbara Mission

✅ Best Things To Do In Solvang

Solvang is a Danish town known for its wineries.

It’s a small town where everything is in walking distance and the architecture of every building is just beautiful.

Solvang, California

✅ Best Things To Do In Avila Beach

Avila Beach is a little further north near San Luis Obispo.

It’s a quiet little beachside town that is fun for a slow, relaxing getaway.

Avila Beach, California

Conclusion: Best Things To Do In Ventura

No matter what you are looking for in a vacation, you are sure to find it in Ventura.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, an exciting outdoor adventure, or a cultural experience, the best things to do in Ventura can be found in all of these activities.

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The Best of Ventura Weekend Getaway Guide