Ventura County: Home to Fun Festivals and Activities Year-Round

Just south of Santa Barbara, Ventura County is the perfect destination for all types of travelers. Young and old, active and passive, tourists are guaranteed to be surprised with the number of activities available to fill their itinerary to its capacity!

The included cities celebrate their people and resources with annual festivals and events all year long. People here love the outdoors and the ability to take advantage of pleasant weather during almost every season. The Strawberry Festival and Ojai Music Festival highlight some of the area's favorite attributes.

Ventura County prides itself on the beach town feel with big opportunities. The venues are smaller but make for the most intimate and memorable live music shows and stage performances.

Local events cater to the county's ability to make everyone feel welcome--no matter their interests! Those looking for a day to relax and enjoy a new book can head to the State beach, nearby Lake Casitas or the Channel Islands for romantic outdoor settings. Adventure-seekers flock to Island Packers for extended trips off the coast, and history lovers take special notice of Mullin Automotive Museum's public hours.

Attractions and activities are for any type of visitor, including families eager to explore the harbor or couples ready to taste Central Coast wines on the Ventura County Wine Trail


Mullin Automotive Museum
Photo courtesy of Tori Bodin

Peter Mullin is an avid classic car collector, gracious enough to share history with the public. His display of beautiful 1920 and 30's French cars include Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes, Hispano Suizas, Talbot-Lagos and Voisins. Many of them have their own Concourse d'Elegance titles and have incredible restoration stories. The museum plays host to public and exclusive events. Their public hours are only available a few days each month. Mullin also incorporated French furniture and decorative arts into the showcase, presenting the art deco movement alongside the aesthetic features of the car industry. A must-see museum for car and history enthusiasts!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The cars in this museum are worthy of being showcased in Paris with their stunning craftsmanship.

Tori's expert tip: Leave yourself enough time for the guided tour and the movie to get the most interesting scoop!

Read more about Mullin Automotive Museum →

More performance venue than club, this one-time movie house (opened in 1928) 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. Boozy drinks are available, along with some foods, and other, non-musical talents are occasionally booked as well. Floor space is for standing only, 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. The Majestic has a capacity of 1150.

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The Majestic Ventura Theater brings in both old and new musical acts for intimate shows and strong acoustics.

Tori's expert tip: If you are over 21 (imbibing or not), watch the show from the bar area for a better view.

Read more about The Majestic Ventura Theater →

When it was built in the mid-19th century, this two-story home, its grounds and its surrounding structures were the centerpiece of a grand ranch. Restored and furnished to its original state, the home is a window into life during California's mission period. The lovely grounds feature mature plantings and a Spanish-styled fountain, and the home boasts period furnishings, photographs and a chapel. Educational tour groups can often be seen watching calf wrangling or adobe making. Visitors will also find a visitors center, a museum and regularly scheduled special events such as music under the stars, living history day or candlelight tours!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: Olivas Adobe is an iconic adobe on the National Register of Historic Places, making it a delight to visit.

Tori's expert tip: Catch a school tour to see the kids interacting with the adobe as they would back in the day!

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The Central Coast is known for great wine and gorgeous wineries. Why not take the time to sample the local favorites on the Ventura County Wine Trail? Spanning from Ojai to Thousand Oaks, Ventura County has created a map of tasting rooms sure to please both the enthusiast and casual drinker. With multiple hotels, restaurants and attractions participating along the trail, there is no shortage of places to enjoy a glass of wine with experts and friends. Downtown Ventura is thriving with tasting rooms and wine bars, creating a casual atmosphere for sampling and strolling around town. The Ventura Visitors Center can provide maps and directions for the trail, as well as suggest other organized tours for those looking for a group experience. Organized tours are available most weekends and several of the locations host their own events on the Ventura County Wine Trail's calendar.

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The Ventura County Wine Trail highlights the local wine industry. It is relaxing way to indulge in some adult beverages!

Tori's expert tip: Pick up (or download) the Ventura County Wine Trail Map to guide your visit. It includes wineries, hotels restaurants and more.

Read more about Ventura County Wine Trail →

Island Packers
Photo courtesy of Tori Bodin

The Channel Islands are enjoyed frequently by school groups, adventurers and people looking for a relaxing day off shore. Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands are close enough for hiking, snorkeling or kayaking trips while the outer islands of Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara are favorite options for camping, backpacking or surf explorations. Island Packers provides timed transportation for all types of visitors and travelers, including whale watching trips and wildlife cruises. Their boats seat patrons comfortably, and their informative guides makes every boat ride fun and exciting. Trips often offer snacks and drinks while picnics and sack lunches are also encouraged... especially if you are spending an extended amount of time exploring an island or scouting for blue whales!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The Channel Islands are a piece of paradise just off the Ventura coast. Island Packers will help you get there.

Tori's expert tip: Pack a picnic for a day trip to Santa Cruz!

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Now over 60 years old, this venerable music festival is renowned for virtuoso performers, thought-provoking symposia and film screenings. Most of the breathtaking performances take place in the outdoor setting of the Libbey Bowl, making concerts more casual and appealing. Libbey Bowl offers seating and an expansive lawn area, bringing together music-lovers under the stars. Festival attendees are often seen with a picnic basket and bundled in blankets, letting the music do the talking! The festival is known for its eclecticism in terms of musical selections, often showcasing cutting-edge or relatively unknown acts. Six decades on and the festival continues to draw passionate crowds, talented musicians and dancing fiends!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The Ojai Music Festival represents the classic and whimsical character of the town. Ojai offers intimate outdoor setting just a short drive from Ventura.

Tori's expert tip: Bring a blanket and pillows. Pack a picnic!

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The ninth mission built along the Camino Real highway linking Sonoma and San Diego, this adobe structure was established in 1782 by Father Junipero Serra. In its heyday, the mission was the community's center for worship, agriculture and commerce. After Mexico broke from Spain, the mission fell into disrepair and was taken from the church. In the 19th century, it was returned by the U.S. government, and in following decades, repaired. These days, visitors come to view its detailed interior, original wooden bells and beautiful courtyard with fountain. A museum on the site provides further information about the historic mission. Still an active parish.

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The San Buenaventura Mission is one of the 21 California missions. The history of the mission is especially interesting.

Tori's expert tip: Leave enough time in your day to enjoy downtown Ventura as well!

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Paying tribute to one of the county's most bounteous crops, this much-loved festival draws thousands of visitors each year. The fresh, plump and ruby red strawberries are delicious in one of a kind dishes like award-winning shortcake and margaritas! Live bands play classic rock, Latin funk and country-influenced tunes, while Strawberryland caters to kids' interests with all sorts of entertainments and performers. Arts and crafts venues make for leisurely browsing, and the wealth of food booths ably accommodates hungry patrons. In addition, there are strawberry-related competitions, including one where participants vie to create the most outstanding strawberry shortcake dessert. A must-visit!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: Oxnard is well known to have the best strawberries in all the land. Why not spend the day enjoying them?

Tori's expert tip: Take the free shuttle! It makes transportation and parking hassle-free!

Read more about California Strawberry Festival →

This harbor is a gathering place for folks who love the sea: sailing on it, playing in it, basking along its shores. Along the harbor, you'll find a host of restaurants and shops, along with lodging opportunities, yacht clubs and the like. If you want, you can rent bikes or boats, take advantage of sports and picnicking facilities, or simply enjoy the weather and the scenery. Tall ships, Pirate Days and the Parade of Lights are just a few of the favorite annual activities that take place in the harbor. Island Packers also offers boat trips to the Channel Islands themselves, making the harbor a hub for day and weekend trips.

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The Channel Islands Harbor is full of unique stores and specialty shops, not to mention restaurants and cafes.

Tori's expert tip: Book a day trip from here to the actual islands for an incredible fishing, hiking or kayaking adventure!

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Can't get enough of good, old-fashioned entertainment? Then the Ventura County Fair is definitely for you! This annual extravaganza takes place right next to the beach and delivers everything from a parade to farm animals, including pig races! You'll also find carnival rides and events, plenty of live music and enough tasty treats to make you tingle with delight. Community exhibits such as photography and garden displays bring together participants and onlookers for a chance to celebrate local talent. Bring the kids, come with a group, and give yourself over to the wholesome fun of yesteryear. This is one you don't want to miss!

Recommended for Ventura's Best Attractions & Activities because: The fair is an opportunity to play games, enjoy rides and tour exhibits. The entertainment lineup and demolition derby bring together friends and the community.

Tori's expert tip: Come hungry! When else will you get an opportunity to eat a plate of cheese fries the size of your head?

Read more about Ventura County Fair →


Meet 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...  More About Geneva