GoGirlfriend’s Must-have’s for a California escape
Feeling the urge to fly the coup, pigeon? Gather your besties, put your boss on notice and point yourself toward Ventura, California. What’s in it for you? Delish wine, fab restaurants and way more fun than you can (safely) pack into a weekend with your gal pals. Did we mention wine? This is wine country, after all.
The GoGirlfriend team recently spent a weekend in the charming berg of Ventura, also known as San Buenaventura. It’s perched between Malibu and Santa Barbara on the blue Pacific Ocean, overlooking Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands. At first blush, you might be tempted to skip Ventura in favor of a bigger city – but don’t do it. Ventura is the perfect hang-out spot for a weekend of wine, food and fun.
From brand name to budget to one-of-kind hotels, Ventura knows how to do hospitality. But remember, you’re not in Los Angeles girlfriend. Set your sights on Ventura area hotels that offer spectacular views of the beach your toes have been begging you to visit.
- Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach – All rooms feature a balcony with a partial ocean view, which means you’re steps from the surf and Ventura’s famous pier. You’ll find all the amenities you’ve come to expect from this 4-star chain, including the delish C-Street Restaurant. Visit them online at CrownePlaza.com.
- Inn on the Beach – A charming boutique inn the trendy, upscale beach area of Ventura. Flanked by the beach on one side and quaint eateries (like Cappelletti Pizzeria, Social Tap and The Sushi House), you could easily set up camp here and not leave the area at all. Visit them online at InnontheBeach.com.
- Budget baller hotels – If the budget’s tight, there’s no shortage of hotels in Ventura that offer fun on the cheap. The following have better than average ratings on TripAdvisor: Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn.
Ventura must-nosh-at spots
It’s hard to visit California without falling in love with everything you put in your mouth – and Ventura works hard to live up to your expectations. Skip the chain restaurants though and ferret out the one-off’s waiting to strut their wares. Here’s what we found.
- Café Nouveau – Begin your morning outside on the patio and feel as though you’ve been transported to a joyful, Mediterranean garden. We recommend the mimosas followed by a scrambled egg taco with guacamole. If you’re a good girl and finish all your food, you’ll be rewarded with a sinfully delightful cupcake – a free thank you for visiting. Visit them online at CafeNouveau.com.
- Amigos Surf Cantina – We stumbled on this gem by accident when strolling the downtown area. We had a craving for margaritas but we didn’t expect the unbelievable salsa smorgasbord of salsas. Grab a table on the patio and get your exercise by visiting the refilling on the different salsas. Yes, we’re serious. Visit them online AmigosVentura.com.
- Watermark on Main – If you think Ventura’s a sleepy little town that goes to bed early, Watermark will set you straight. We trekked the three flights up to the WO2 Rooftop Lounge and were rewarded with a live band, packed tables and dancing in the aisles – on a Sunday night. Ditch boring and treat yourself to one of their signature cocktails. But be warned: they don’t skimp on the alcohol. Visit them online at WatermarkonMain.com.
- Café Fiore – End your day here – actually may want to end every day here for the rest of your natural life. From the Bruschetta Rustiche to the Tortellacci Di Zucca to the amazing wine list, your taste buds faint with pleasure. They often feature live music in the Tree House, but if you’re looking for a quieter dinner hang out on the patio or the Martini Lounge. Visit them online at CafeFiore.com.
Ventura must-experience attractions
While there’s lots to do in Ventura, her best asset is her beachfront location. Pick one or two things to do each day and spend the rest of your time communing with the ocean. Sunrise salutations. Mid-day sunbathing and dunks in the ocean. Sunset strolls on the pier… Bliss!
- Ventura bike tour – This city was built for biking and the best place to get the 411 on what to see (and the bikes you’ll need to do it) is the Ventura Bike Depot. From guided tours to self-directed tours, they’ll get you on the road with all you need for a day filled with exploring. We toured the harbor and downtown area but next time we visit, we’re planning to take the Downhill Sulphur Mountain Tour – or the Wine Tasting tour – they both look like a lot of fun. Visit them online at VenturaBikeDepot.com.
- Ventura wine tour – Visiting California with your girlfriends dictates wine will featured – all weekend. The Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau offer a full list of tours available by bike, shuttle or self-guided. Visit them online at Ventura-USA.com.
- Channel Islands National Park – Visiting the 5 islands of Channel Islands National Park is a favorite activity of tourists to the area. You’ll experience a wealth of natural and cultural resources that have been preserved and protected from development. Whether you cruise around the islands without disembarking or land on one island to spend the day hiking – or snorkeling, kayaking or canoeing – your time here will give you a taste of what California looked like thousands of years ago. We recommend Island Packers, which is accessible from Ventura or their sister city, Oxnard. Visit them online at IslandPackers.com.
- Ventura County Fair – The fair’s been running since 1875, and first two weeks in August every summer it’s the place to be. Picture an old fashioned fair with crazy fun rides, yummy foods soaked in incredible amounts of grease, along with Ventura-grown art, livestock and gemstone exhibits. But the best, in our humble opinion, is the free grandstand shows. We visited the day the Bare Naked Ladies rocked the night sky – but the Beach Boys and CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival) were there this year as well. Visit them online at VenturaCountyFair.org.
To comply with a long list of regulating bodies, possibly even Geneva Conventions and in the interest of transparency, GoGirlfriend’s visit was compensated by the Ventura Visitor and Convention Bureau. All opinions expressed are those of GoGirlfriend.