Ventura is the California beach town that dreams are made of – warm, welcoming, unpretentious, and packed full of delicious restaurants and adventurous, family friendly activities. While most families flock to popular California towns like Santa Barbara and Big Sur, Ventura is the hidden gem of Highway 1. Sandwiched between the Topatopa Mountains and the picturesque Pacific Ocean, Ventura has long been known as a sweet surf town and the jumping off point for Channel Islands National Park. But that’s only scratching the surface of this seaside darling. When it comes to the ultimate family vacation in California, Ventura has it all.


Where to Stay in Ventura

While there are various options for places to stay in Ventura, our pick for the best hotel for families is Waypoint Ventura, a vintage trailer hotel. You can choose from a wide variety of refurbished trailers, all of which are unique and have been expertly decorated for a one-of-a-kind experience. The trailers vary in size and can accommodate up to 8 people. In addition to offering unique accommodations, Waypoint also offers free bikes, cornhole, swings, a BBQ fire pit, and more. Plus, Waypoint is walking distance to the Ventura Pier and the beach. This is the place to stay for a family vacation in California.

Best Activities in Ventura

Ventura Botanical Gardens: Spread across over 100 acres of picturesque mountain terraces, the Ventura Botanical Garden has over 30,000 plants sprinkles on its hillside location overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Entrance costs only $7 per person.

Rent Surrey Bikes with Wheel Fun Rentals: One of the best adventures in Ventura is biking along the beach with a bike rental from Wheel Fun Rentals. You can rent a double surrey bike for $39 per hour, which can fit up to six adults and two children under the age of 6. This is a great experience for a family vacation in California.

Hike in Arroyo Verde Park: If you’re booking a family vacation to Ventura, you won’t want to miss Arroyo Verde Park. There are beautiful trails to hike and explore and a large inclusive playground to play on. Plus, parking is free on the weekdays except holidays. There is a small fee on the weekends.

Mondo’s Beach: While Ventura has plenty of beautiful beaches, Mondo’s Beach is extra special. Located right off Highway 1, this local’s favorite is lined with large boulders on one side and the Pacific Ocean to the other side. The beach comes alive in the mornings as the sun peaks out over the Topatopa Mountains. This spot is a favorite of surfers, too!

The Channel Islands: Ventura is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park. If you want to kick up your adventure factor on your family vacation to Ventura, book a day trip to Santa Cruz Island with Island Packers. Within 3 hours of Ventura, you can go hiking and kayaking on one of the most awe-inspiring National Parks on earth.

Rent Swan Boats with Ventura Boat Rentals: One of the best ways to see Ventura is on the water with a swan boat rental from Ventura Boat Rentals. Kids will love the variety of pedal boats to choose from: swan boats, dragon boats, duck boats, and more, making it a great experience for a family vacation in California.


The Ventura Botanical Gardens are a must visit in Ventura, California


Arroyo Verde is a great place to hike with the family in Ventura

Where to Eat in Ventura

The food scene in Ventura is out of this world. There are so many incredible gastronomical visionaries in the area, making Ventura a vibrant neighborhood of tasty treats and craft breweries.

Immigrant Son Caffé: Inspired by Italian traditions passed down from generation to generation, you can truly taste the love that goes into every dish at Immigrant Son Caffé. We highly recommend the breakfast lasagna and the parmesan polenta, a recipe that was passed down from grandmother of the owner.

Andria’s Seafood: Located in Ventura Harbor, this family run restaurant has been a staple of fresh seafood since 1982. We highly recommend ordering the fish & chips and the New England Clam Chowder.

Coastal Cone: After Andria’s Seafood, head over to Coastal Cone and choose from 40+ flavors of ice cream. Located in Ventura Harbor, Coastal Cone is a delicious destination for all your sweet treat dreams.

Rumfish Y Vino: This gastro-bar is a whole vibe. Set in a beautiful indoor-outdoor location, Rumfish Y Vino whisks the diner away from coastal California to a classy European summer setting. This is where to go for fresh seafood and specialty cocktails in a chic outdoor setting,

Frontside Cafe: Run by a husband-and-wife team, this Aussie-inspired café serves heavenly coffees and delicious dishes in a delightfully decorated indoor / outdoor café space.

Busy Bee Cafe: Located in downtown Ventura, Busy Bee has been serving the best burgers in Ventura since 1983! This 1950’s themed café has adorable red vinyl booths, black checkered floors, and a programmable mini jukebox at each table.

Humblemaker Coffee: If you’re looking for a quality espresso drink, head to Humblemaker Coffee in downtown Ventura. They have delicious freshly roasted coffee and tasty breakfast sandwiches to start the day, all in an adorable outdoor garden setting.


Caffeinate for the day at Humblemaker Coffee