Spending winter in California sure has its benefits. There is plenty to do outdoors to enjoy. No better location is VenturaCountyWest (the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura about an hour’s drive north from Los Angeles). Even if you have visited California before, VenturaCountyWest offers places that you’ve never seen, beaches you’ve never walked and breathtaking scenery you’ve never experienced-all while enjoying a near ideal climate. Here are a few family-friendly activities.
The area is filled with bike paths. Rent bikes on Main Street in Ventura at Ventura Bike Depot. The paths are mostly flat. Here’s a suggestion: after picking up your bikes, head toward the Ventura River. You’ll pass the Ventura County Fair Grounds, a bird sanctuary and then find yourself with magnificent ocean views. Choose to stop at the 1,700-foot Ventura Pier to eat lunch at Beach House Tacos or travel a little farther and picnic at a peaceful, grass-covered area at San Buenaventura State Beach. Never crowded, the beach offers two miles of blissful bicycling.
VenturaCountyWest boasts two harbors. Paddle and electric boats for rent are also available at Ventura Harbor Village. While there, be sure to visit the 32-animal indoor carousel in the village arcade. There are plenty of video and pinball games to keep kids busy and homemade fudge and other goodies to snack on. Since the village is located right in Ventura Harbor, you can watch the fishing ships come in with their fresh daily catches.
For an indoor adventure (and when kids have way too much energy), visit Sky High Sports in Camarillo. It’s filled with trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Kids can play trampoline dodge ball and other organized games or… just jump. Sky High also has arcade games and laser tag.
It’s whale-watching season. Now through mid-April, whales migrate between the waters of Alaska and Mexico, passing by the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. Book whale watching tours with Island Packers from Ventura or Oxnard. While spotting whales, you are also likely to see seals and dolphins along the way. Another ocean excursion to consider is the close by Channel Islands National Park. Just 11 miles offshore, these five islands are an all-natural playground for those who love to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, nature walk or just breathe in the fresh ocean air. First timers can take an excursion to one or all five of the islands, also through Island Packers.
For a more subdued family outing, pack up a picnic lunch and take you family on a quiet tour around Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard in an electric boat from Hopper Boat Rentals. Hopper also offers paddleboards, kayaks and paddleboats. All are great ways to see harbor life up close.
Where to Stay:
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard is the only all-suites beachfront resort in Southern California.
Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort is an easy walk to Ventura Harbor Village with views of harbor sea life and fishing boats.
Residence Inn Camarillo with complimentary breakfasts, free internet access and kitchens in every room.
Crowne Plaza – Ventura Beach is only hotel in VenturaCountyWest directly on the beach and it’s just two blocks from historic downtown Ventura.