History of Ventura County, Key Messaging and Regional Highlights, About Ventura County Coast Tourism and More.

History of Ventura County
8,000 B.C. – Ventura County inhabited by the Chumash people.
1542 – The first Europeans arrived, led by a Portuguese explorer who anchored near Port Mugu and claimed the region for Spain.
1769 – Spanish occupation of the region begins.
1782 – Father Juníperro Serra founds the Mission San Buenaventura.
1822 – The people of San Buenaventura join the rest of California in swearing allegiance to Mexico.
1848 – Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally transfers California to the United States.
April 1, 1866 – Town of San Buenaventura is incorporated, becoming the first officially recognized town in what would soon become Ventura County.
1873 – Ventura County splits from Santa Barbara County, welcoming a rapid growth of new towns and communities.
1903 – Oxnard is incorporated.
1948 – Port Hueneme is incorporated.
1964 – Camarillo is incorporated.

In the 1880s, at the county’s inception, the region boasted just over 5,000 inhabitants. Today, Ventura County is home to nearly 825,000 residents, making it the 12th largest county in the state of California.

Classic Coastal Charm
Ventura County Coast offers surf, sand, sunshine and authentic coastal charm without the cost and crowds associated with other California beach cities. Laze away at Port Hueneme State Beach Park, which features a long strip of soft white sand and 50 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland with picnic areas, barbecue pits, volleyball nets and a pier that is popular among the local fisherman.

In Ventura, take a sunset stroll along the historic wooden pier before heading Downtown to Main Street.  There you’ll find a charming collection of antique stores and unique boutique shops, plus a slew of impressive restaurants ranging from fresh seafood to Italian to Thai.  

For those seeking a nostalgic and whimsical experience, Ventura Harbor Village is a popular seaside attraction with an arcade, vintage carousel, quintessential ice cream shop and plenty of options for delicious dining, boutique shopping and exciting water sports in the harbor.


Outdoor Adventure
One of the biggest draws to the area is the Channel Islands National Park. Ventura County is the only gateway to the 5 rugged islands, nicknamed “The Galapagos of the Pacific.”  Just 11 miles offshore, yet a world apart, the Channel Islands National Park is an all-natural playground for those who love to hike, camp, picnic, snorkel, kayak, nature walk, or just breathe in the fresh ocean air.

To get there, visitors take a short boat excursion with Island Packers; they can choose to depart out of Ventura Harbor or Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.  The trip offers dolphin, whale, sea lion and wild bird sightings along the way, plus unparalleled views of the Pacific from the top of the bluffs.  

Back on the mainland, Ventura County Coast offers an incredible amount of water activities at its pristine harbors – like jet skiing, Duffy boats, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, yachting and harbor cruises; not to mention dry land adventures like hiking at the botanical gardens, race-cars/go-carts and surfing, boogie-boarding and sunbathing on the many stunning Ventura County beaches.


Food, Farms, Wine, Beer and Spirits
Sprawled across 125,000 acres of flourishing farmlands, orchards and vineyards, Ventura County Coast is one of the most bountiful agricultural regions in the country.  Growers here produce more than 100 commercial crop varieties and the annual value of production ranks it 10th among the nation’s 3,140 counties. Ventura County boasts a number of groups that work to engage the community in the region’s agriculture, like the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, Totally Local VC and SEEAG, whose mission is to educate children about the farm sources of their food from field-to-table while connecting them to the farmland in their own backyard.  The county’s only regional signature event is the annual “Farm Day” which brings together 20+ working farms for free tours for the whole family.  Because of the region’s emphasis on agritourism, ingredient-driven dining and fresh, local flavors are a growing part of the region’s identity. The popular downtown areas feature numerous farm-to-fork restaurants like Paradise Pantry in Ventura, while numerous artisanal wine bars and craft breweries are found across Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo.Across the region, you will find a number of quality wine tasting rooms featuring wine made from locally-grown grapes, like the well-known Herzog Cellars; and popular microbreweries which proudly tout the local stuff. 

Leisure Activities: Shopping, Golfing and Sunning
The top activity in Ventura County Coast is visiting the stunning beaches along the coast, which are easily accessible, clean and uncrowded.From Camarillo to the coast, Ventura County Coast is one of the best shopping destinations in Southern California. Style (and sale) seekers should not miss Camarillo Premium Outlets, with over 160 outlet stores, including Armani, Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tommy Hilfiger.The Collection at Riverpark in Oxnard is a brand new, state-of-the-art outdoor shopping and lifestyle center with well-known stores and restaurants for every budget. Old Town Camarillo, Downtown Ventura and Ventura Harbor Village are a must for the shoppers who prefer to discover trendy boutiques and find treasures at eclectic antique and thrift shops.Those seeking leisure at its best can head to one of the region’s eight golf courses, including two public courses open year round: Sterling Hills Golf Club and Camarillo Springs Public Golf Course. The River Ridge Golf Course is a great destination for those who want to stay and play, as it lies adjacent to the preferred hotel of athletic groups and teams like the Dallas Cowboys.Family-Friendly
With its free farm tours, uncrowded beaches, Channel Islands National Park, enriching cultural activities, historic sites and wide selection of affordable accommodations, Ventura County Coast is the ultimate family vacation destination. Children can learn about the region’s agricultural bounty at McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo, which has a “Pick Your Own” program that runs year-round. Spend the day at Ventura Harbor Village, a nostalgic seaside villages with an arcade, a vintage carousel and a quintessential ice cream shop. Adventurous families can access the beautiful Channel Islands through Ventura Harbor or the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.

History, Art and Culture
For history buffs, Ventura County Coast offers an impressive amount of historic sites and one-of-a-kind museums.  Founded in 1782, the San Buenaventura Mission is a major piece of California history, located on Main Street in Downtown Ventura.  

The Ventura County Fair began in 1875, when horse racing was at its prime. This annual August fair is the region’s signature event, attracting locals and visitors for two fun-filled weeks.  Since 1872, the Ventura Pier has offered rest, relaxation, and fun for all ages. This Ventura landmark has popular surf ‘n turf restaurants and magnificent views.  Located in this charming district of Camarillo, the Commemorative Air Force Museum is filled with World War II aircraft and memorabilia. The museum is housed in a huge display hangar at the Camarillo Airport.

The modern Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme offers another great stop for kids wanting to learn more about naval history in an interactive setting.  Other must-see museums include the Murphy Auto Museum and the Mullin Automotive Museum, both located in Oxnard.  These amazing spaces display million-dollar vintage cars of all kinds dating back to the beginning.  Open to the public on select days, the museums also hold private tours and events.

Kids can enjoy the Gull Wings Children’s Museum in Oxnard and the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center in Ventura, where park rangers conduct hands-on marine life exhibits; as well as the Maritime Museum at the Oxnard Harbor.  Considered the best music venue between LA and San Francisco, The Majestic Ventura Theatre offers 1920’s mission-style architecture.  

Camarillo Ranch House is a historic landmark dating back to 1892 and features rotating exhibits, along with historic home and school tours.  And don’t forget about the many art museums throughout the region, including Museum of Ventura County and the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard.

Sports and Recreation
Sporting events are big draws to Ventura County Coast. An early home to surfing, windsurfing, sailing, mountain biking, and distance running, Ventura County Coast’s temperate climate and convenient location is well-suited for athletic competitions. Oxnard has been home to the Dallas Cowboys summer training camp every July and August. Ventura County Coast hosts events by USA BMX, Ojai Tennis Tournament, National Softball Association, Triple Crown Sports, Western Surfing Association, and VC Fusion Soccer. Venues suited for volleyball, softball, baseball, aquatics, running, BMX, soccer, golf and footgolf are available.

Popular Filming Location
Being so close to Los Angeles makes Ventura County Coast an ideal location for film, television, and commercial shoots. Filming brings in an estimated $30 million a year to the county’s economy according to the Ventura County Film Commission. Movies and television shows shot in Ventura County Coast include True Blood, NCIS, Dexter, Bridesmaids, Aviator, and Little Miss Sunshine as well as a host of commercials. On January 1, 2014, Ventura County led the state in removing the redundant proof of insurance requirement when filming on private property. Filming permits and other fees were also reduced.

Affordable, Convenient Meetings
Meeting rooms can accommodate groups from 10 to 1,000 guests and come in a variety of venues: beachfront, historic, full-service hotel conference centers, and parks. Marriott Courtyard in Camarillo, for example, provides an intimate environment for small groups and weddings.

The oceanfront Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort offers 16,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Ventura Beach Marriott is within walking distance to the city’s historic pier. Midweek rates are designed to attract business travelers.

Area hotels work with meeting planners to arrange team-building and group activities. Popular options are trips to the islands, harbor dinner cruises that accommodate up to 150 guests, beach Olympics, go-cart racing, wine tasting through the Ventura County Wine Trail, biking along beach boardwalks, and sampling delicious cuisine during a walking tour of downtown Ventura with Ventura Food Tours.


About Ventura County Lodging Association

Ventura County Coast, encompassing the cities of Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura and Port Hueneme, is a tourism brand administered by the Ventura County Lodging Association (VCLA). Formed in 2011, VCLA is comprised of 70 plus lodging organizations (hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, RV resorts) and destination marketing organizations seeking to attract overnight business and leisure visitors to the region. Just north of Los Angeles, Ventura County is considered the gateway to the California Central Coast.

Ventura County Coast: Contact

Address: 1891 Goodyear Avenue, Suite 622 Ventura, CA 93003
Office: 805-644-2500
Website: www.venturacountycoast.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/venturacountycoast
Twitter: @VisitVCCoast
Instagram: VisitVCCoast