Everything About Ventura, California


The area that is now Ventura has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Chumash people. Archaeologists believe human settlement in Ventura dates back 10,000-12,000 years. The Chumash lived peacefully along the coasts and inland for millennia, living in straw huts and subsisting by hunting and gathering.

In 1782 the Mission San Buenaventura was founded by the Spanish explorer Father Junipero Serra. The mission cultivated olives and grapes, and was an important presence in what later became Ventura. In 1822 Mexico won its independence from Spain and took control of Ventura. Then in 1848 California officially became part of the United States after the Mexican-American War.

Settlers coming to California after the Gold Rush of 1849 also made their way to Ventura, and it continued to grow as a hub of activity via land and sea trade routes. Ventura incorporated as its own town in 1866 as agriculture and the oil industry drove more growth. The population and local economy expanded through the 1920s. Since then Ventura has emerged into a thriving small metropolitan area while retaining its quaint seaside character.


Ventura enjoys a prime location on the Pacific coastline, situated between Los Angeles to the east and Santa Barbara to the west. It lies south of the Santa Ynez Mountains and north of the Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands. The coast curves outward to form Ventura Harbor, which leads to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Cruz Island beyond.

The 101 freeway passes east-west through Ventura, connecting it with major cities like Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Other highways such as the 33, 126, and 118 also link Ventura with surrounding regions. The Amtrak trains and VISTA and Metrolink buses also provide public transit connections for Ventura. With its transportation access, picturesque location between mountains and sea, and sunny Mediterranean climate, Ventura has much to offer as a seaside destination and tourist spot.


Most of Ventura rests on top of uplifted, folded, and faulted sedimentary rocks from the Miocene epoch. The closest active fault is the Red Mountain Fault, roughly 5 miles from the east of downtown. While considered an active seismic region, Ventura only ranks as a moderate earthquake zone. More remote faults pose a larger threat of seismic shaking and tsunami risks.

Ventura’s geography is most strongly defined by the ocean and two significant mountains ranges nearby – the Topatopa Mountains, Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains. These ranges formed from continuous uplift and folding, starting about 25 million years ago. The Topatopa and Santa Ynez peaks reach about 6,000 feet elevation, while the Santa Monicas are lower, with elevations around 3,000 feet.

The interface of mountain and sea has created quite scenic surroundings in Ventura’s vicinity. Local rivers and streams carved out the Ventura River Valley over millennia, which is home to hiking trails through oak woodlands. The mountainous backdrop contrasts beautifully with the rugged Pacific coast.


Downtown Ventura is the city’s cultural center and economic engine, with museums, shops, a restored 1920s movie theater, plenty of restaurants and nightlife attractions. Main Street runs parallel to the ocean through downtown and leads to Ventura Harbor and promenades where you can watch the sunset and channel islands beyond.

Just east of downtown lies the Midtown neighborhood, while the East End offers a funky, creative vibe with cafes, breweries and live music. The “Avenue” district stretching along Thompson Blvd features plenty of antique shops, boutiques and dining. To the north lies the college-oriented community surrounding Ventura College.

Inland neighborhoods include the more suburban communities of Montalvo Hill and Clearpoint, while Ventura East stretches toward the hills and canyons. The Pierpont and Harbor View areas offer beautiful ocean views. And the Westside and Northbank feature hillside homes with gorgeous vistas. Ventura’s neighborhoods provide residential options to suit many lifestyle preferences.


Ventura enjoys a comfortably warm Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and wetter winters. High temperatures average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit annually. The warmest months are August and September, with average highs around 76 degrees. January is the coldest month, with overnight low temperatures of around 43 degrees.

Cool ocean breezes often sweep through Ventura, especially during summer afternoons. Rainfall primarily comes during the winter months, with average annual precipitation of just under 18 inches. Snow in Ventura is extremely rare. Overall Ventura’s climate is mild, sunny, and pleasant year-round.


As of 2019 Ventura had a population of 109,592. Hispanics and Latinos are the largest ethnic group, representing 39 percent of residents. The white demographic comes in second at 57 percent. Asians make up nearly 6 percent, while African Americans comprise just 1.5 percent of the population. About 26 percent of residents were born outside the United States and 23 percent speak a language other than English at home.

Over a quarter of Ventura’s population is aged 18 years or younger, reflecting many young families. Residents between 45 and 64 years represent 27 percent of the populace, while seniors over 65 make up 13 percent. The median age is 36 overall. Ventura has a relatively balanced composition across age groups.

The median household income is just under $83,000, slightly higher than the national median. But housing costs are quite high – median gross rent is $1,659 per month, and buying a median priced home for nearly $640,000 would require an annual household income of over $100,000.


The largest employment sectors are education/healthcare, leisure/hospitality and professional/business services. One major employer is the headquarters and distribution facilities for Patagonia, the outdoor apparel and gear company. The Navy Base Ventura County complex, two hospitals and the Ventura Unified School District are also significant job providers.

Manufacturing, construction and retail trade industries round out much of the remainder of Ventura’s job market. Self-employment and entrepreneurship are also popular, spurred by Ventura’s sunny climate and appealing lifestyle that draw remote workers and small business owners.

Agriculture plays less of a role than in Ventura County overall but still contributes to the economy. Stawberries, tomatoes, citrus and avocados are major crops, along with nursery plants and cut flowers. Some land has transitioned from agriculture to commercial/residential usage due to rising property values near the coast.


Ventura enjoys a thriving arts and culture scene bolstered by its ocean views and vibrant downtown spaces. The Ventura County Fairgrounds hosts regular events and entertainment at the grandstand, exhibit hall and other venues. The Majestic Ventura Theater and Museum of Ventura County host musical performances, theater productions, comedy shows and cultural exhibitions.

Downtown Ventura draws visitors with galleries, arts collectives, museums and live music at restaurants and wine bars. The First Friday Cultural Arts Walk occurs monthly. The Ventura Harbor Village hosts the Channel Islands National Park Visitor’s Center, boat rentals and cruises to explore Santa Cruz Island and more.

Parks and beaches foster opportunities for gathering and outdoor recreation. Surfers and swimmers enjoy the waves at Surfer’s Point near the Ventura River mouth. Picnic sites, playgrounds, hiking and biking abound. And festivals and street fairs occur year-round, like the Ventura Music Festival and Ventura Winter Wine Walk.

Colleges and universities

Ventura College is a large community college serving 13,000 students, located three miles from downtown. Classes transfer to four-year universities. Ventura College provides occupational training programs in health sciences, computer science, criminal justice, business management and more. Athletic programs and student clubs allow students to connect on campus.

California State University Channel Islands opened in 2002, now enrolling around 7,000 students. Campus facilities keep expanding; the latest addition is a new science and engineering building slated to open in 2025. CSUN-CI offers bachelors and masters degrees spanning business, computer science, biology, teaching credentials, pre-health programs and more.

Santa Barbara Business College has a campus in Ventura providing vocational training tailored to business management and healthcare administration. Ventura College of Law is also based in Ventura, offering a 4-year program for earning one’s Juris Doctor degree and passing the bar exam.


The Ventura County Star is the main local paper covering Ventura news, business, sports and culture. The Ventura Breeze and Ventura County Reporter offer weekly insights on events, arts, and entertainment. Edhat Santa Barbara sometimes includes Ventura area news.

For television and radio, KVTA-AM and KHAY-FM air local talk and music programming focused on Ventura. Broadcast TV is served by the Los Angeles media market, with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates available. Most residents also subscribe to cable/satellite services for expanded viewing options. Popular providers include Spectrum, DirecTV and Dish Network.


Traveling by car is the predominant mode of transit around Ventura and accessing surrounding regions. Highway 101 runs east-west through the city, connecting coastal communities like Santa Barbara to inland cities like Santa Clarita. Highway 33 forms Ventura’s northeast boundary leading inland, while Highway 126 runs east-west toward Santa Clarita as well.

Secondary routes crossing through town include Telephone Road, Johnson Drive, Main Street, Thompson Boulevard, Harbor Boulevard and Seaward Avenue linking coastal areas. California Street, Poli Street and Victoria Avenue comprise the “ring around the rubble” loop circling downtown. Traffic congestion rarely occurs except on Highway 101 during rush hours or special events.

Ventura also offers options for biking, walking, or taking public transit instead of driving. Amtrak and Metrolink trains service the East Ventura Station. VISTA buses provide 14 routes all across Ventura and neighboring Ojai Valley, with long-distance connections available to Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

Major Landmarks

Ventura Pier – Built in 1872, the historic wooden pier extends over 1,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean. Fishermen cast lines while sightseers admire the view.

Mission San Buenaventura – Founded in 1782, this was the ninth and last mission established by St. Junipero Serra. A museum shares artifacts and history.

Ventura City Hall – The eight story building with its distinctive design opened in 1968. Public art decorates the grounds and interior.

Plaza Park – Trees, rose gardens and green lawns create an urban oasis with a scenic hilltop and ocean view. Outdoor events occur here.

Ventura Harbor Village – Colorful buildings house shops, restaurants, fishing charters and boat rentals by the marina filled with sailboats and yachts.

Grant Park – Stretching from Ventura Avenue to the ocean shore, Grant Park offers 117 acres with trails, picnic sites, tennis courts and a willow tree tunnel.

With its beautiful natural surroundings, historic landmarks, walkable and creative districts, family-friendly amenities and sunny climate, Ventura offers an outstanding quality of life and desirable place to visit or live.

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  • Start out going northwest on Telephone Rd toward Dean Dr. Then turn right to merge onto CA-126 W/Santa Paula Fwy toward Ventura. Take the Victoria Ave exit and turn left onto Victoria Ave. Turn right onto Ramona St. Turn left onto Main St. Turn right onto Loma Vista Rd. Turn left onto Anthony Dr. 2115 Anthony Dr will be on the right. The total distance is approximately 16 miles.
  • Head west on Telephone Rd toward South Mountain Rd. Turn right to merge onto CA-126 W. Take exit 51B for CA-33 S/Ojai Fwy toward Ojai. Take the exit onto CA-150 W/Ojai Fwy. Turn right onto CA-33/Creek Rd. Turn left onto Main St. Turn right onto Anthony Dr. 2115 Anthony Dr is on the right just past Natalia St. The total distance is about 18 miles.
  • Start out going southeast on Telephone Rd toward Central Ave. Turn right onto Central Ave. Turn left onto CA-126 W. Take the Victoria Ave exit and turn right onto Victoria Ave. Turn left onto Main St. Turn right onto Anthony Dr. 2115 Anthony Dr is on the right just past Natalia St. The total distance is approximately 15 miles.