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Ventura has a variety of activities for anyone who loves the outdoors - whether you are an avid cyclist, love to scuba dive, rock climb, kayak or hike – or bird watch in untamed estuaries.
Ventura - the California beach town and a popular surfing destination. You'll find great spots like ‘Surfer’s Point’, ‘California Street’ and ‘Rincon’ where you can jump on your board and ride, or hang out and watch. Ventura is also the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and the Los Padres National Forest.
Channel Islands National Park includes five islands and their surrounding ocean environment. There are abundant natural and cultural resources on each, and over 150 species are found no where else on Earth. Kayakers, can explore the sea cave and everyone will enjoy taking a step back to what California once was.
Rather head for the hills? Great trails and steep gorges make for great hiking.
For cycling enthusiasts, there’s a choice - ride the 13-mile coastal trail or ride inland on the famed Ventura River Trail to Ojai.
The River Trail crosses several ecological zones from beach to coastal chaparral and upper chaparral in a relative short distance, along this trail you will also enjoy art installations by area sculptors and assemblage artists.
The Ventura River is home to many resident and migratory birds . Since Ventura is on the Pacific Flyway and is between two estuaries, birding is excellent and you could see a multitude of species.
Every fall, Ventura's eucalyptus groves are filled with hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies migrating along California’s central coast. They return to the same trees in Ventura year after year.
Blue Whales are just one of the animals sighted off the Ventura coast in the summer months (June - September). Considered the largest animals on earth, they come to the Channel Islands’ areas to feed on as much as 1,000 pounds of krill per day. Grey whales arrive in December on their way to Mexico, where they birth their calves in warmer waters.
You will also see almost 30 varieties of seals and dolphins around the Channel Islands.
If you're short on time, or want to learn more before you explore, the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center in the Ventura Harbor has displays, ranger talks, films and a live marine animal tide pool.
Many local hotels offer packages that include a discounted rate and island trips or guided activities. Here is a list of Outfitters and Organizations where you can find equipment, information and trips/tours:
• Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau - 89 S. California St., #C. Hotel/motel information, maps, guide books and a very friendly staff. Exit Hwy 101 N. at California St. or 101 S. at Main St. to California St. and turn right. The Visitors Center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. http://www.ventura-usa.com , 800-483-6215.
• A Guide to the Best of Ventura by Locals - Highlighting all the fun things-to-do, places to eat, stay, shop and more, including detailed beach guide, wine trail, art scene, agri-tours, romantic ideas, family fun and the people who make living and visiting Ventura so special.
• Channel Islands Outfitters - Offering guided adventures to Channel Islands National Park for over 15 years. Join experienced guides to explore Ventura's nearby islands with a guided kayaking or backpacking adventure. Camping equipment rentals are also available for travelers visiting this unique national park. Call 805-899-4925 or check out www.channelislandso.com to book your next island adventure!
• Ventura Bike Depot, Inc. – Specializing in rentals including Suspension Mountain Bikes, 3 & 4 Wheelers, Hybrid Cross Trainers, Tandems, Children's Bikes, Electric Scooters, Rollerblades, Bike Trailers, and Car Carriers. Will deliver bikes, and provide free helmet, lock and parking with rental. 239 West Main Street, 805-652-1114. http://www.venturabikedepot.com
• Shoreline Cycles – Experts in road and off-road cycling. Off road trail books available for purchase, free advice on best on and off- road routes and land usuage.105 Oak Street, Ventura. 805-641-9283. http://www.shorelinecycles.com
• Family Fun - three to eight passenger Surrey cycles will accommodate people from ages 1 to 99 and riding the beautiful Ventura beach promenade offers vistas galore. You can also rent standard bicycles and a variety of other single and multi passenger cycles along with surf & boogie boards, beach chairs & umbrellas and sand castle kits. Wheel Fun Rentals
• Surfclass.com – Created to celebrate the spirit of surfing and the ocean environment. Surfclass offers private and group lessons, women’s/girls clinics, surf retreats, surf-kayaking and travel to remote surf spots and teaches surf culture, stewardship and environmental education. On the waterfront, call 805- 648 – 2662. www.surfclass.com
• Ventura Surf Shop – Rentals available (boards & wetsuits), new, used & collectible surfboards, lessons, accessories and apparel. 88 E. Thompson Blvd. (Downtown Ventura), 805-643-1062.
• Ventura Dive & Sport – Rentals available and provides in-house repairs and service by fully-trained technicians. Located in Ventura Harbor Village within walking distance to the Liberty, Spectre and Peace Dive Boats. Call or E-mail your order in and they will deliver it to the boat for you. 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 108, 805-650-6500. www.venturadive.com
• Island Packers Cruises - The Channel Island National Park's concessionaire for boat travel departing from Ventura Harbor to all of the islands. A variety of trips, from half-day to multi-day, are offered. 1691 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura Harbor. 805-642-1393. http://www.islandpackers.com
• Sail Channel Islands – Day trips, overnights and weekend trips. Enjoy lunch, happy hour, dinner or design your own cruise. Located at Ventura Harbor, 805-750-7828. www.sailchannelislands.com
• Ventura Boat Rentals – For kayak, paddleboat and electric boat rentals and harbor cruises, 805-642-7753. Ventura Harbor Village, Spinnaker Drive, Slip D7 (directly across from the Coastal Cone Ice Cream Store). www.VenturaBoatRentals.com
• SeaStone – Offering rock climbing and surfing programs including adult and youth rock climbing classes, climbing camps, climbing gyms, private guides, and rock climbing road trips. Also, private and youth surfing lessons and weekend clinics. 805-641-3733, 102B Hingham Lane.
• Patagonia – Great Pacific Iron Works, Offering gear, guidebooks, and environmental information. Located at 235 W. Santa Clara St., Ventura, CA 93001 Phone: (805) 643-6074. http://www.patagonia.com
• Ventura Audubon Society – The mission of the Ventura Audubon Society is to promote at the local level, by education and action, the protection and restoration of bird populations and wildlife habitat for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biodiversity. Visit their website for local birding sites and directions to the Central Coast Birding Trail in Ventura County.
CITY, COUNTY AND STATE PARKS AND FACILITIES
• Ventura River Estuary Wildlife and Nature Preserve/Emma Wood State Park Campground – Located at the north end of Main Street, adjacent to Hwy 101, Ventura.
• Santa Clara River Estuary and Interpretive Center- Spinnaker Dr. via Harbor Blvd. (enter through Surfer’s Knoll Beach walking trail).
• Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center – Located at the north end of the Ventura Harbor at 1901 Spinnaker Dr., 805-658-5730.
• Monarch Butterfly viewing sites - Camino Real Park, 4700 Aurora Drive. From the 101 fwy, exit Victoria Avenue, head north, left on Telegraph Road, left on S. Bryn Mawr and right on Aurora Drive, the park entrance is located at the end of Aurora Drive. The best viewing times are the last week of December and the first week in January. The butterflies tend to inhabit the groves of trees along the barranca forming the north and west sides of the park. Monarch butterfly guided tours available, 805-658-4726.
• Foster Park-Casitas Springs. Rugged camping, hiking along chaparral trails or river trails. Located at 438 Casitas Vista Rd., off Hwy. 33 – 6 miles from Ventura, 805-654-3951
• Arroyo Verde Park-trails, picnicking, hiking, wildlife and spectacular views. Located in the coastal foothills above Ventura College. Exit Hwy 101 or 126 at Victoria Ave, go north to Foothill Road, turn right, 3 blocks to park entrance on right. Ventura City Parks Department 805-652-4550.
• Lake Casitas - Ojai. Camping, Boating and hiking. Day use fee $6.50, payable at toll both located at11311 Santa Ana Rd. off Hwy 150 just west of Ojai. Want to camp at Lake Casitas but not sleep in a tent. Camping Adventures will delivery and set up a trailer for you. www.campingadventuresrentals.com
• Lake Piru Recreation Area – In Ventura County, adjacent to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary and offering excellent boating, trout and bass fishing, picnic areas, camping, water skiing, swimming and hiking. 4780 Piru Canyon Road, Piru, 805-521-1500.
• Los Padres National Forest and Wilderness Area - Highway 33, Ojai. Ranger Station 805-646-4348. Wilderness or camping permits are required. Numerous trailheads in and around the Ojai Valley and Ventura.
• Ventura State Beach. Sand Dunes and native plants abound along with swimming, bbq grills , picnic facilities. Located at Harbor Blvd. and San Pedro St. in the heart of Ventura, 805-648-4059.