How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

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As you know, I am a Teacher of the Blind and one of my students’ made it to the National Finals of the 2016 Braille Challenge. The finals take place in Los Angeles, California every year in mid-June and I decided to attend. My mom’s sister lives in Fresno, California, so we decided to make a week long girls’ mother-daughter trip of it and visit her sister while we were there.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

This trip was a bit last minute, so we didn’t have any definitive plans. We arrived on a Thursday night and spent Friday visiting the Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater in LA, before heading to the Braille Challenge festivities. The Braille Challenge activities were Friday night through Saturday night and the plan was to head to Fresno on Sunday.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

But, we really wanted to see the Pacific Ocean and put, at the least our toes, in the water. So, we decided to drive up the 101 a bit on a whim. There were wildfires last summer, so we couldn’t drive too far up the Pacific Coast Highway. But, I found a cute Inn with a restaurant overlooking the ocean online and figured we’d head there for brunch.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

We weren’t sure where we would want to stop to look at the ocean and figured we’d just wing it. From LA, taking the 101 the entire way, the start of your drive is all inland. We both kept saying to each other, “Where’s the ocean? I want to see the ocean!”

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

It just so happens, that Ventura, California is the first city you see once you reach the coast.  We were so desperate to see the ocean, we went ahead and pulled off and ventured into the city of Ventura. We followed signs for beach access and ended up paying to park in the San Buenaventura State Beach lot.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

This was late morning, almost mid-day, and the beach was quite rocky. We had to scramble down to get to the water and get on our hands and knees to scramble back up.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

If you walk a ways down the beach, there are easier spots to access the water.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The water was freezing! So, as you can tell from the photo of me below cringing from the cold water hitting my feet, we barely got in the water. But, it was still stunning, vast and we put our toes in the Pacific Ocean! I think I still prefer the Gulf of Mexico as far as beaches go, but it was impressive and life-changing to have the experience none-the-less.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

There were plenty of other people getting in the water, so I surmised they must be locals and are used to the temperature!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

We headed back to our car and headed back north on the 101 to find the Inn for brunch. But, when we got there I realized we needed reservations, so we had to turn back.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

At this point we were starving! So, we drove back south on the 101 until we saw a sign for a Denny’s. We pulled off and got some breakfast. I haven’t been to a Denny’s in years and typically I wouldn’t say it would be my first choice of restaurants. But, we were so hungry at this point! And, although it may not have been local authentic fare, I can assure you it was oh, so good!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

While enjoying a delicious brunch, I started to research the area. I saw that one of California’s Missions, San Buenaventura Mission, was located in Ventura. It is not to be confused with Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, which you can read about HERE. I asked my mom if she was willing to take a little while longer before heading to Fresno.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The downtown area of Ventura is so quaint and picturesque. They have cute shops to explore and next door to the mission is an archaeological dig and museum  that you can tour as well.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The San Buenaventura Mission itself is just lovely and a self-guided tour is only $4 for adults!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The museum shows artifacts from the mission’s history and archaeological finds from the area.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!  How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!  How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The courtyard is soothing and tranquil. We were there on a Sunday, so we had to wait for the Mass Service to finish before we were able to go into the sanctuary. But, we didn’t mind.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

The inside of the sanctuary is also gorgeous, yet simple and solemn.

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!  How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too! How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

I was so pleased with our spontaneous stop in Ventura, California! They have many beaches along their part of the coast and it is only about an hour or so north of Los Angeles and the start of a northward trip up the Pacific Coast Highway! It is well worth a visit, even for just a few hours! 

How I Stumbled Upon Ventura, California & Why You Should Too!

I now have two trips added to my bucket list! Traveling the whole of the Pacific Coast Highway and visiting all of California’s missions! Have you been to Ventura or another city along the Pacific Coast Highway? Have you visited any of California’s other missions? Share in the comments section below! Want more travel? Check out my other US Travel Posts and World Travel Posts!

 

 

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