It’s about a one hour from Los Angeles north up to the Ventura Harbor Village. Parking can be tough during the summer and early Fall, due to all the fun activities this area hosts. There are free summer concerts from 1 to 4 p.m. with Steel Drum music on Saturdays and live surf, reggae and rock on Sundays during the months of July and August. The concerts are at the Carousel stage near Hats Unlimited and the Village Carousel & Arcade.
There is a great beer festival that brings quite a crowd in June, a pirate festival that families enjoy in July, and live bands on a floating dock in September. The Ventura Art and Street Painting festival with 40 chalk art artists take over the area in September, and before Christmas, the Ventura Harbor offers an annual parade of lights and fireworks in December.
Ventura Boat Rentals is one of our first stops to rent double kayaks. We cool down while sitting just above the water and paddling around the docks with gorgeous motor and sailboats tied to their slips. We always see large sea lions basking in the sun on a pier near the entrance of the boat harbor and near the Island Packers boats. Island Packers offers wine tasting boat tours, taco and beer cruises, and day trips to Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Santa Rosa Islands. They also offer whale watching and marine mammal cruises. www.islandpackers.com
Another fun route is skimming over to the Ventura Keys and paddling by the million dollar homes with their own boat and dock in their backyard.
It’s fun to dream about what life would be like living in one of these homes, owning one of these boats, and never having to experience temperatures in the 90s and 100s. There seems to always be a cool ocean breeze, even on the warmest day.
Ventura Boat Rentals also offers Yoga on the Water. For those who don’t want to work up a sweat, Ventura Boat Rentals offers a 40 minute harbor tour and little motor boats couples and families can rent. There are Jet Ski rentals with three person Seadoos, 4-person LRVDI and Yamaha VX Deluxes. During the winter they offer public cruises in December with free hot chocolate and holiday cookies. www.venturaboatrentals.com
Afterward an hour of paddling, we developed an appetite, and strolled over to the The Greek at the Harbor. It’s a waterfront Mediterranean Grill and Lounge. Sitting near the window, we had refreshing views of the harbor and boats below. Looking over the menu, we ordered a few craft beers, specialty cocktails and a terrific Luxury Cadillac Margarita.
For starters, the Cold Sampler Mezze plate is filled with a variety of dips that include tzatziki and hummus, plus tabouli, skordalia, melitzanosalata, taramosalata and warm pita bread. It’s perfect for sharing.
The Spanakopita filo pastries are flakey and stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. The Dolmades are moist grape leaves stuffed with beef, rice, herbs and topped with avgolemeno sauce. They also offer fresh fish, salads, burgers and sandwiches and the best vegetarian Moussaka that is layered with eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and topped with a béchamel cream. It’s delicious. www.greekattheharbor.com.
We skipped dessert and walked next door to Coastal Cone Ice Cream for Dole pineapple whip soft serve and ice cream in homemade waffle cones. www.coastalcone.com
Walking around the charming waterfront multiplex, we stopped into a variety boutique stores, galleries, and the Village Carousel and Arcade to play a few games of skeeball. The full-sized carousel has 36 beautiful hand painted animals. www.venturavillagecarousel.net
Nearby, Andria’s Seafood Restaurant & Market had a line of people waiting to order some of the best fish and chips in town and cups of clam chowder. Even though it is very casual and served in styrofoam, it’s a very popular dining destination. Andria’s has been voted Best Seafood by The VC Reporter and VC Star. www.andriasseafood.com
At the end of the day, we always enjoy posing behind some whimsical cut out boards to take a picture or two as a memento to our special day at the Ventura Harbor.