A Summer Day in Ventura

Summertime is winding down and honestly, it’s always bittersweet for me. Although I’m not a huge fan of triple-digit heat, I adore the light nights and escaping to the beach often. Since we’ve moved to Ventura County, Mabel and I are commonly doing three-mile treks by the ocean or hitting up Main Street in Ventura.

I was pining for a family beach day, and last week we headed up to Ventura (Daddy, too). I’d been to their Botanical Gardens once and sadly had to leave it for another day. Unlike the Huntington Library or Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Ventura’s is quite rural. A hiker’s dream, but not ideal when you have a stroller in tow. I decided I’d return on a cool morning with the baby carrier, and take one of their trails while wearing Mabel. We began our Ventura day with a return to their gardens.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens

It’s well known that I adore botanical gardens. I have a bucket list of ones I want to visit and am always happy to return to my favorites. The Ventura Botanical Gardens sits atop City Hall and is a gateway to Grant Park. It boasts 109 acres and the loop trail elevates to 1100 feet high. Since it’s a botanical garden, there’s no lack of exotic plants and trees to see as you explore.

From olive trees to lemonade berries, I loved the fact that I could observe such a variety of agriculture with the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands surrounding me. The views of the water and city are spectacular.

Since it’s not a strenuous hike, it’s great for beginners and families. On Wednesdays and Fridays, your leashed dogs are welcome. Fridays and most federal holidays offer free admissions. If you hold a membership to another garden like Descanso, your membership will be honored as part of the Reciprocal Admissions Program.

One of the gorgeous views from the Ventura Botanical Gardens. (c) Mary Farah
Walking up that hill. (c) Mary Farah

Harbor Village

Despite all of my recent visits, how had I yet to play tourist at the Ventura Harbor Village?! After our hike, we played “beach bums” and set up our tent at San Buenaventura State Beach while enjoying some lunch. Following our break, we decided to cruise over to this adorable harbor village.

Reminiscent of harbors at Oceanside or Marina Del Rey, there’s plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants along Ventura’s Harbor Village. I loved the laid-back vibes, people watching and that it was dog-friendly.

We came in search of the well-beloved Coastal Cone as Mike loves Tiyaki; a Japanese dessert treat consisting of either ice cream or hot custard inside a warm fish-shaped cookie. He’s only had it with the latter, and at Coastal Cone, he chose a cookie and cream filling with a dust of Oreo crumble. As for me? They had one of my most favorite flavors….blue bubble gum. I get many eye rolls over this unusual flavor but, hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It reminds me of summers spent in Dana Point when I was very little.

Next time we visit, I’d love to try one of the harbor’s 18 restaurants. The newly renovated Baja Bay Surf ‘n Turf caught my eye. Their recipes utilize fresh and local ingredients, and we all know I love Mexican food. Their seafood menu looks impressive and even includes shark burritos and tacos. I’m a sucker for seafood, and cannot say I’ve tried shark yet. Will it bite me?!

Bubble gum ice cream from Coastal Cone. (c) Mary Farah
Coastal Cone’s Oreo Zookie. (c) Mary Farah

Visit Ventura

Whether you’re a local like me or passing through, I highly recommend a visit to Ventura. I love that it’s a bit more of a sleeper town than other coastal cities, and there’s plenty to do. A lot of annual events are scheduled to return this year, including the Winter Wine Walk. That and the Channel Islands are on my to-do list.

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