Ventura, California, is a city located north of Los Angeles, that has an enviable location between the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean, the coastal mountains, and two rivers that empty into the Pacific. The Ventura Pier shown in this photo has was once the mainstay of the area's agricultural and construction trade. It was once the longest wharf in the state of California, being rebuilt many times in its 144 year history.
I was visiting Ventura for the first time ever, as part of a Road Scholar program ( www.roadscholar.org ) program on Channel Islands National Park. The program has chosen the Crown Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel ( www.cpventura.com ) as the lodging location for the program, and I was absolutely delighted to get to spend a week on the beach there!
Every room has a balcony and a view of the ocean. I took this photo from my room on the 11th floor. I could sit on my bed by the window ( or on the balcony chairs ), and watch beach activities 24 hours a day!
The nice thing about staying right on the beach is that I could roll out of bed, and go outside at dawn, to watch the sun come up, and do some photography.
Ventura was chosen as the hub city for this particular Road Scholar program, because that is where the headquarters and main Visitor Center for the Channel Islands National Park is located.
Inside the Visitor Center, one can find exhibits, video viewing theater, book store, gift items, native plant information, aquariums and the simulated tide pool shown in this photo. Park interpreters give demonstrations and talks throughout the day to help acquaint visitors about all this area has to offer.
I enjoyed climbing this tower, which has the visitor starting at the base of the ocean floor ( as represented by the kelp stalks shown on the outside of the building ), then climbing up several stories until you reach the water's surface, and finally a viewing platform at the very top, where you can not only see birds, but get a "bird's eye view" of all the surrounding harbor. For information on the Visitor Center hours and programs, visit www.nps.gov/chis .
Back along the beach, the wooden board walk ends, and a concrete bicycle trail takes visitors along the river, and inland towards the mountains.
Kayak rentals are available in the Ventura Harbor, as well as standup paddleboards, motor boats, bicycles, and pedal carts.
I did not want to miss the setting sun as I finished up my first day in Ventura Beach, and I was not disappointed. The smoke from the numerous forest fires north of Ventura, were giving the sun a picturesque red glow.
My hotel was located on Surfer's Point, and there seemed to be non-stop surfing throughout the daylight hours. I read that because of Ventura'sunique South-facing waterfront and breaks, the waves there are impressive, such that Ventura beaches have long been known as a surfing paradise.
When our group went to downtown Ventura for a historical walking tour, we stopped at the restored Mission San Buenavenetura, which has been used for Christian worship services for over 200 years, and continues to serve the area in the same way. The mission was founded in 1782, and was named after a Catholic saint.
One way this prosperity is evidenced, is by the stately architecture of the Buenaventura City Hall. Ventura was founded by Franciscan Friars, and the statue in front of city hall pays tribute to this heritage, by memorializing Fray Junipero Serra, OFM. San Buenaventura was the ninth Mission in California, and was the last mission founded by Serra before his death.
Ventura is also the place where Erle Stanley Gardner practiced law, and also authored the famous Perry Mason books about an attorney confined to a wheel chair.
There is a free trolley that takes visitors all around the downtown, as well as the more distant location of the Ventura Harbor.
One of our speakers for the Channel Islands Road Scholar program was Don Morris, who served as an archaeologist with the National Park Service for over 40 years. I could not resist having my photo taken with some of the "visual aids" he brought with him, for his lecture on the excavation of the Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth.
I like the tag line for the sesquicentennial celebration Ventura is promoting---Historically Hip! More information about all there is to do in Ventura can be found at www.celebrateventura.org .
The good news is that the Amtrak station is a short two block, straight shot from the hotel to the boarding ramp.
The bad news is that the Amtrak train goes right beside the hotel. However, the sound never bothered me or woke me up at night.
Baby Boomers like myself may remember the song called "Ventura Highway". Well, this is the sign that sits above the "Ventura Highway", which is now the 101 Freeway. It is a retro-style and greets you as you enter downtown Ventura from the California Street off-ramp. Seeing this sign, and remembering that sign, and reliving my fantastic week in Ventura gives me "MILES OF SMILES"! Tricia