10 Best Places to Dance the Night Away in Ventura County
By Geneva Ives
Santa Barbara Local Expert
Ventura County has never been known to have a great number of dance clubs or late night venues. However in recent years downtown Ventura has seen a significant increase in nightlife attractions that vary from lounges and dives to wine bars and music venues. Some bars boast stunning ocean views while others create just the right venue for an atmosphere of dancing, drinking and socializing.
Brew pubs such as Barrelhouse 101 or Dargan's are the perfect locations to grab a beer with friends and catch a sporting event on television, while spots such as The Tavern, Bombay Bar & Grill or the It's All Good Bar bring people together with live music, DJs and dance floors.
Owing to Ventura's casual downtown scene, its not surprising to see people in shorts, tank tops or flip flops at any of these venues. Comfort is the name of the game when you go out for night of fun in a beach town like Ventura. Even catching a show at The Majestic Ventura Theater will not require dressy attire, although you won't stand out (in a bad way) if you do decide to get gussied up.
Most clubs and bars close by 2 a.m., but since many are so close together, it's easy to see the sights and have a fulfilling night of fun.
Dargan's Irish Pub
Dargan's Irish Pub and Restaurant has a location in Ventura as well as Santa Barbara. While they are the obvious choice for a Saint Patrick's Day celebration, the pub is also a popular choice for pub food and drinks. Their full bar offers quick service and a famous sign that states their motto, "Alcohol is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." It's a popular location for locals to meet for a night on the town. With a good number of tables as well as bar seating, it's also popular for those looking to mingle and enjoy a night downtown. The drinks are often strong with generous pours. With several television sets, it's also a favorite spot for sport enthusiasts to sit down for a drink during the game. Free parking is available just behind the pub. (8056483001)
The Wine Rack
The Wine Rack is just off Ventura's main downtown street, offering wine selections and appetizer platters. The staff is friendly and helpful, giving recommendations to those who are new to wine tasting and sharing advanced knowledge with those who are looking to experience new wines. They also offer speciality cheese platters and a large selection of wine-related gifts for the aficionado. The Wine Rack even includes live music sets in their nightly hours, making it an ideal stop for those looking for a stop before or after dinner. It's also a great place to spend an evening, enjoying good wine, company and music. Their selection is broader than you will find at a typical restaurant so its a favorite among those planning a special occasion. (8056539463)
Majestic Ventura Theater
More performance venue than club, this one-time movie house opened in 1928 and boasts elaborate details to complement its mission-style architecture. These days, the restored place is one of the area's most desirable concert halls, showcasing such talents as Johnny Lang, Counting Crows, Phish, Arctic Monkeys, Tori Amos and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A full bar is available, along with some food if you're peckish. Other entertainments - like comedians - are occasionally booked as well. Floor space is for standing attendants and there is seating on the top floor, with 21 and over standing space in between the two areas. With its central location to downtown Ventura, it's a popular venue to catch an intimate show with your favorite performers. (805-653-0721)
Barrelhouse 101 is a drinking venue near downtown Ventura that's obviously here to stay. With 101 standing for the number of beers they offer, its no surprise the restaurant is a popular stop for beer enthusiasts. While they also have a full menu offering appetizers and entrees, most patrons are quick to order a cold pint. The venue also hosts special tastings and events by breweries, offering seasonal brews and samplers. Most caft beers come from California, but there are also labels from Oregon, Washington and Utah, to name a few. Locals usually stop by Barrelhouse 101 for a beer before heading downtown, taking advantage of the bar and outdoor patio for a fun start to the night. (8056430906)
Social Tap is located just steps from the beach in Ventura. Social Tap is a restaurant and brew pup built to bring people together while they drink and enjoy the coastal environment. Live bands often play at the venue, creating a fun hangout for all ages and bringing in local musicians from the surrounding area. Draft and seasonal beers are popular among guests, as is bottled beer, wine and signature spirits. This quintessential California pub even offers fresh and locally sourced food, including street tacos and burgers. A fun place to spend time with friends... or make some new ones! (8056678485)
The Tavern Ventura
The Tavern is Ventura's most popular dance club and bar. As a house transformed into lounge, there are separated areas for every type of nightlife. Downstairs offers big booths, a full bar and often a live band. Walk farther into The Tavern and you will find another bar, complete with dance floor and another live band or DJ. The back patio has yet another bar as well as cabanas, booths and plenty of deck space for guests to mingle and dance. The Tavern also functions as a restaurant during the day, which is the best time to enjoy their classic and rustic decor, complete with vintage books and blackboards. While its location is bit separated from downtown's main drag, its worth the short walk to take advantage of a true lounge and dance floor. (8056433264)
VenTiki Tiki Lounge & Lanai
And now for something completely different... to be transported in both time and place head directly to VenTiki, Ventura's only tiki bar. Here the drinks are positively tropical, the decorations are certainly magical ,and the service is just delightful. Enjoy all the classics like Mai Tais, Zombies, Singapore Slings and more, all served in appropriate tiki glassware. They also have food... so you can keep drinking of course. Sit at the bar and watch classic movies play on the TV or enjoy your drink in the sunshine on the patio. One tip: if you've got a great Hawaiian shirt, this is the place to wear it. (805-667-8887)
Watermark on Main
Watermark on Main has made a mark on the downtown scene with its unique and sleek ambiance. With modern appeal and old world touches, Watermark came to Ventura with the idea to combine fine dining and a lounge and bar experience. The restaurant specializes in locally inspired dishes, while the W2O lounge is known for their signature cocktails. There is mood lighting and several water features throughout all areas of the bar and a rooftop lounge can host private parties and even offers cabana rentals. There is often live music and special events, perfect during happy hour when guests come for drinks instead of dinner. Watermark does have a dress code unlike other downtown establishments, so it is an upscale experience in comparison to the other nightlife you may encounter. (8056436800)
If you're looking for a fun bar and lounge in Ventura with a lot of local color, look no further than Paddy's. This LGBT-friendly place to get a drink has a fun atmosphere and the nicest bartenders around. It's an easygoing establishment with an outdoor patio, dance floor and full bar. It also has pool, darts and other classic bar games. There are fun activities throughout the week, including drag queen bingo, karaoke night and more. Paddy's is a great gay bar that packs whole lot of party! One more tip before you go, Paddy's is cash only so be sure to bring some bills (and Bills, they're welcome too). (805-652-1071)
Bombay Bar & Grill
Hip and boisterous, this bar and dance club isn't intended for those who might want a relaxing evening. Only head over if you're ready to break it down and party. Once there, take in the mix of music (reggae, dance, pop, rock and jazz) and wedge yourself in among the booty-shakers. Tunes are loud, folks are wired, and the place rocks with the energy of live performers and even karaoke at times. Food is also available, should you need something to help soak up the alcohol. In fact, in the middle of the night tacos are available for $1.00. Be ready to dance. (805-643-4404)
About Geneva Ives
Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it just happens to have glorious beaches and celebrity residents, too! Geneva spent a decade managing an adorable, locally owned boutique in downtown Santa Barbara and met her husband when he was working as a waiter at the Cajun restaurant right next door. Together they go on many adventures trying to find the best activities, drinks and dining experiences in the tri-county area.
Read more about Geneva Ives here.