This article is sponsored by VenturaCountyWest, home to the idyllic destinations of Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura and the California Channel Islands. To learn more about the stunning region, visit VenturaCountyWest.com.
Spring is the perfect time to visit VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura). Abundant sunshine and comfortable temperatures make exploring the dramatic coast and surrounding mountains an ideal way to spend your day, while an array of inviting restaurants, interesting historical sites and fun festivals mean you can pack your getaway with bell-to-bell action.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Visitors to VenturaCountyWest have the option to explore the area's natural wonders by land or by sea, on foot, bike or boat. In Oxnard, enjoy a four-mile hike from McGrath State Beach to McGrath Lake and try to spot some of the more than 245 bird species that make the park one of the best bird-watching areas in California. For a full-day, 12-mile round trip, start from the McGrath Beach trailhead and go all the way to Channel Islands Harbor, where you can post up for seaside libations and lunch before looping back.
In Ventura, bike rentals are available on Main Street at Ventura Bike Depot or next to your beachfront hotel at Wheel Fun Rentals. Start a relaxing two-wheel adventure at the mouth of the Ventura River (there is free parking on Main St.) and head south for a blissful ride with magnificent ocean views. Lunch on historic Ventura Pier at Eric Ericsson's (order the Ahi Tacos) is a must, unless you're in the mood for a picnic, in which case we suggest the San Buenaventura State Beach.
Feel like getting even further off the beaten path? Plan a boat trip that will take you 11 miles out to sea to the Channel Islands National Park, which is made of up of five islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara. There, you'll experience breathtaking vistas, exhilarating hiking and a national marine sanctuary full of unique wildlife.
Historical Sites & Unique Museums
For California history buffs, the Camarillo Ranch House provides a fascinating glimpse of Camarillo’s early days. Docent-led tours take you through the history of the era, where you'll find details like furnishings, documents, photos and period-correct wallpaper at every turn. In Ventura, visit the San Buenaventura Mission, the ninth and last California mission founded by Junipero Serra. The mission and museum are open to the public for tours daily between sunrise and sundown. And speaking of sunset, check out the view of the historic Ventura Pier from Serra Cross at Grant Park.
Bringing the kids? Gull Wings Children's Museum in downtown Oxnard teaches children about the world around them, with an emphasis on California, by developing an up-to-date environment that is sustainable, engaging, fun and inspiring. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
VenturaCountyWest is home to dozens of independently owned restaurants serving all types of cuisine, from farm-to-table to traditional Mexican, Brazilian to Tai. Brophy Brothers in Ventura Harbor Village is perfect for seafood. Enjoy its pitch perfect clam chowder or try the cioppino--served with the restaurant's acclaimed freshly baked bread--while taking in the harbor views.
For an authentic Brazilian taste experience, try Moqueca at the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Start with a caipirinha cocktail followed by Moqueca Capixabas, a fish and seafood stew that comes to your table in black cooking pots imported from the Moqueca region of Brazil.
In the heart of Old Town Camarillo, The French Bulldog is open for dinner and serves American French Bistro farm-to-table fare as well as farm-to-drink cocktails. Chef Gael Lecolley stays true to his French roots with dishes like beef bourguignon and filet mignon in a béarnaise sauce.
If the allure of nature, history and food aren’t enough, head to VenturaCountyWest in spring for the almost nonstop festivals.
113th Ojai Tennis Tournament - April 23 - 28, 2013
A tennis tradition since 1896, "The Ojai" is a showcase for tomorrow's tennis champions. Tennis greats Arthur Ashe, Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras, Billie Jean King and the Bryan brothers all played in The Ojai. The tournament runs from April 23 through April 28 and takes place on over 100 courts in more than 30 locations in Ojai, Ventura and Oxnard. New this year, players from 84 community colleges will be competing in the California Community College State Championships during the six-day event. Pick a venue or two, relax and enjoy great tennis.
California Strawberry Festival - May 18 & 19, 2013
Strawberries are the highest grossing crop in Ventura County. What better way to celebrate the abundance of this little red fruit than at the California Strawberry Festival, May 18 and 19 at Strawberry Meadows of College Park in Oxnard. Besides traditional strawberry staples such as chocolate dipped strawberries or a strawberry margarita, try something unique. How about a strawberry pizza, strawberry nachos, strawberry kabobs or even strawberry beer? You can even build your own strawberry shortcake. There will also be pie eating contests (strawberry of course), live entertainment and award-winning arts and crafts displays.
Ventura Music Festival - May 2013
Each year throughout May, the Ventura Music Festival attracts nationally known singers, instrumentalists, orchestras and ensembles. On May 5, the festival welcomes The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra featuring guest vocalist Carmen Bradford. It's big band music in the perfect setting--the 1920s mission-style Majestic Ventura Theater in downtown Ventura. To get in the mood, 1930s and 1940s attire is encouraged.
For a full list of inspiring hotels, restaurants, dining and entertainment options in Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura, visit VenturaCountyWest.