Ventura, is a laid back coastal village sitting between Ventura River and Santa Clarita River. It's also nestled at the base of Mount Pinos, close to the Channel Islands. Around town, you can stroll through museums and galleries, and enjoy gardens and fantastic dining options. Ventura is the perfect destination to soak in this California lifestyle.

01Stroll the Ventura Pier and Promenade

Established in 1872, the Ventura Pier is a town treasure. Fishing from either end is a favorite activity of locals. The restored wood and steel pier stretches 1,700 feet over the water, and many of the panels tell a bit of the history of this famous spot.

02Explore the Ventura Botanical Gardens

The gorgeous Ventura Botanical Gardens were originally started by local residents in 2012. Over 160 varieties of Mediterranean plants, forests of fragrant pines, and eucalyptus call the gardens home. The garden's Discovery Trail will lead you on a mile-long walk past vistas of the lush, surrounding countryside.

03Learn About the Work of the Mission San Buenaventura

Feed Your Spirit at the Mission San Buenaventura Wilsilver77 / Getty Images

In historic downtown Ventura, you can see where the Franciscans founded the Mission San Buenaventura in 1782. Much of the original mission was burned down and rebuilt, but mass is still held in the church on the altar established in 1809 that has survived threats from war, earthquakes and even pirates. There is also a small museum where you can view the collection of period art and tranquil gardens to walk.

04Surfers Point Beach

Where the Ventura River starts lies the birding and surfing paradise called Surfers Point Beach. The beach is surrounded by a lagoon formed by the river, which attracts a variety of wildlife. Visitors come from all over for bird-watching and to take advantage of the big barrels that roll in for the best surfing.

05Quench Your Thirst at Surf Brewery

Taste some quality craft California beer at Surf Brewery. Visit the brewery's own beer and surf museum to learn how both helped shape the area's history. Enjoy live music on weekends, and for some good eats, sample the fare from the food trucks serving the best of the local cuisine.

06Take in a Production at the Rubicon Theater Company

For about 17 seasons now, the Rubicon Theater Company has provided quality entertainment for Ventura. Local talent will enthrall you with their excellent productions of plays and musicals. The intimate theater size will make you feel almost part of the drama--or comedy. Check their calendar before you arrive and make the Rubicon Theater Company part of your visit.

07Swim and Surf at Emma Wood Beach

The waves are calling at Emma Wood Beach, located just two miles outside of Ventura. Swim, surf or walk the beach and search for blue herons and other wildlife abundant in the area. Fish are plentiful too, and fishing for perch, bass, among other marine favorites is a popular pastime at Emma Wood. Historical points of note are also here, including a Second World War artillery site.

08Try California Wines at Four Brix Winery

Find this popular winery conveniently located downtown and known for its blends. They only produce a couple of thousand bottles a year, so you'll have to act early if you want to purchase some. Taste the best from the winery in their tasting room and enjoy their special events where they pair wine with local food and entertainment.

09Get Away at Lake Casitas

If camping is what you're looking for, reserve a site at Lake Casitas Recreation Area. Part of Los Padres National Forest, Lake Casitas was created by the Casitas Dam on Coyote Creek. Now, it's a nature-lovers utopia with forest-lands, making it a getaway within a getaway.

10Cruise along the Oxnard Bike Trail

Biking is a great way to see the outdoor beauty of Ventura. The Oxnard Bike Trail begins in San Buenaventura State Beach and ends in Oxnard Beach for a round trip distance of approximately 14-miles. Take in the breathtaking views and fresh air as you pedal this smooth trail appropriate for all fitness and experience levels.