Spending the winter in California certainly has its advantages. There is plenty to do outdoors. No better place is VenturaCountyWest (the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura are about an hour's drive north of Los Angeles). Even if you've visited California before, VenturaCountyWest offers places you've never seen before, beaches you've never seen before, and breathtaking landscapes you've never experienced before, in an almost ideal climate. Here are some family-friendly activities.
The area is filled with bike paths. Rent bikes on Main Street in Ventura at the Ventura Bike Depot. The paths are mostly flat. Here is a suggestion: After picking up your bikes, head towards Ventura. You will pass the Ventura County Fair Grounds, a bird sanctuary, and have a magnificent view of the sea. Stop by the 1,700-foot Ventura Pier for lunch at the Beach House Tacos, or drive a little further and have a picnic in a tranquil, grassy area on San Buenaventura State Beach. Never crowded, the beach offers two miles of gorgeous cycling.
VenturaCountyWest has two ports. Paddle and electric boats can be rented at Ventura Harbor Village. During your stay, be sure to visit the carousel of 32 animals in the village arcade. There are many video and pinball games to keep kids busy and homemade fudge and other goodies to nibble on. As the village is located right in the port of Ventura, you can watch the fishing vessels catch their daily catch.
For an indoor adventure (and if kids have too much energy), visit Sky High Sports in Camarillo. It is filled with trampolines with super cushioned 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. By mid-April, whales will be moving between the waters of Alaska and Mexico past the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. Book whale-watching tours with Island Packers from Ventura or Oxnard. While watching whales, you may also see seals and dolphins on the way. Another trip on the sea is the nearby Channel Islands National Park. Only 18 km off the coast, these five islands are a natural playground for those who enjoy hiking, camping, snorkeling, kayaking, exploring nature or just breathing in the fresh sea breeze. First-time visitors can take a trip to one or all five islands, including through Island Packers.
Pack a picnic lunch and take a quiet tour with your family on an electric boat from Hopper Boat Rentals around the port of Channel Islands in Oxnard. Hopper also offers paddleboards, kayaks and pedal boats. All are great ways to experience the harbor life up close.
Where to sleep:
Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard is the only all-suite beach resort in Southern California.
Just a short walk from Ventura Harbor Village, Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort offers harbor views and fishing boats.
Residence Inn Camarillo offers free breakfast, free internet access and kitchens in every room.
The Crowne Plaza – Ventura Beach is the only beachfront VenturaCountyWest hotel located just two blocks from historic downtown Ventura.