Ventura has been called home since my husband and I moved here in September almost two years ago. It’s a small beach town on the rise, but otherwise an unknown destination that sits between the more popular Malibu to the south and Santa Barbara to the north. I had no idea where Ventura was located when my husband told me we’d be moving, but I was looking forward to venturing out of the east coast and making a life in California.
This little town of ours didn’t immediately impress me as it is shadowed by the amusements such as the Santa Monica & Malibu Pier, State Street in Santa Barbara, and the trendy shopping district of Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. However, over time this place has grown on me and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. The seemingly small town feel and laid back lifestyle of its residents keep the authentic value in tact, which is enough for me. There’s something special about being a little bit off the radar.
Nonetheless, here’s a peek at this little town we call home.
The Ventura Pier and the beaches that lay beneath it are typically enjoyed by surfers and locals walking up and down the promenade. As early as the sun rising can you find the surfers strewn about the water and riding waves throughout the day. Don’t ask me what they do for a living because I swear I see them out literally all day long. Tourists take advantage of the beachfront views at the local hotels, mainly the Crowne Plaza, which sits right on the promenade. Summers and holidays we find an influx in visitors as Ventura hosts entertainment such as Warped Tour, various concerts, the annual county fair, and various music, food & drink, cultural, and other festivals throughout the year.
Our town is beginning to shift and grow as new businesses are making Ventura home here as well. My husband and I love a good craft beer and it’s exciting to see two to three new breweries moving in within the year. Don’t get me wrong, an 805 is delicious, but there’s pride in supporting smaller local businesses such as these which offer rotating brews and food trucks right outside. Ventura Coast Brew Co. is the newest addition and joining Topa Topa Brewing Co. who just celebrated their first year anniversary.
One aspect to our town the you won’t see on any visitor website are the vacant lots and homelessness. As mentioned above, our downtown is beginning to regentrify its neighborhoods with trendy local businesses, restaurants, and bars. Unfortunately though many lots remain unclaimed and sit often times overrun with shrubs (the city does come around every so often to cut it down). I’m hopeful nonetheless that new businesses or even upscale rentals or condos will take their place.
Speaking of supporting local shops, Iron & Resin is located here in downtown Ventura and even have a flagship store in San Francisco. They sell collections of apparel and other fun goods (camping or surfing anyone?) that are made right here in California. I bought my first pair of Rainbows here (in order to officially be accepted in Cali culture) and have been back many times as it’s one of my husband’s favorite stores. We love checking out the vintage motorcycles that adorn their shop as it reflects their own story.
…however, we do have one Urban Outfitters in town, but that will be the only major chain you’ll find.
Bonzai Marina will always hold a special place in my heart due to the hospitality and conversation we enjoyed when dining here for lunch upon the first few days living in Ventura. Yuji is the owner and master sushi chef behind the bar who creates delicate and delicious pieces of sushi that just flood your tastebuds with flavor – no soy sauce necessary! He was so welcoming to us and even told us about popular spots in town we’d have to visit. I always recommend this place to any one of our friends, family, or tourists when looking for an authentic and fresh sushi house. You’re going to end up paying a bill that is quite possibly in the triple digits, but it is always so worth it. Always sit at the bar and eat whatever the man puts in front of you because he’s a magical sushi genius.
And you know I can’t end a post without sharing a photo of your Ventura guide, my beach baby. Sometimes I really feel he’s way cooler than me…
If you’re planning a visit to the California coast be sure to make a stop and enjoy all the views and fun this little beach town has to offer! Check out the city website here for more things to do around town.
We are a finalist for BEST BEACH TOWN in Sunset Magazine’s Travel Awards 2016!