The Ventura region offers visitors their first taste of the relaxed vibe and natural beauty that characterize California’s Central Coast. This sun-kissed region has plenty to offer—and much of it is off-the-beaten path. Get inspired to go beyond the beach with these Ventura Region hidden gems.
Take a step back in time at Paramount Ranch—an iconic backdrop for countless Western movies and TV shows. This Ventura region hidden gem features several miles of moderate scenic hikes through the Santa Monica Mountains. You can also find movie sets featured in more recent TV shows including The Mentalist, Weeds, West World, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Chumash Indian Museum
The Chumash Indian Museum is a historical site and living history center dedicated to restoring and preserving an awareness of the Chumash people and their historical, cultural, material, and present-day influence. Through exhibits, events, and educational programs, the Chumash Indian Museum serves as a gathering place connecting the past with the present to continue our shared future.
Stagecoach Inn Museum
The Stagecoach Inn in Newbury Park was used as a resting area for people who traveled from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Today, it’s preserved as a California Historical Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The inn is operated as a historic museum featuring a carriage house, blacksmith shop, and replica historical houses.
Gardens of the World
This inspiring 4.5-acre cultural landmark in Thousand Oaks features five different gardens representing England, France, Italy, Japan; plus the unique California Mission Courtyard. Explore this Ventura region hidden gem on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the gardens, its plants, and the cultures it represents.
The Camarillo Ranch House
A true Ventura hidden gem, the Camarillo Ranch House is a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1892 by Adolfo Camarillo, the city’s namesake. The house features both Queen Anne style architecture and rich local history. Today, the Camarillo Ranch House operates as a museum with rotating exhibits and home tours.
The Majestic Ventura Theater is one of the hidden gems of Ventura County, and has been offering live music in Downtown Ventura for nearly 100 years. Showing off California history with its 1920s mission-style architecture, The Majestic has hosted many legendary artists of all genres of music, including Punk, Alternative Rock, Reggae, Classic Rock, Metal, Blues, Country, Jazz, Funk, Latin, Rock en Espanol, Electronica, R&B/Trip-Hop/Hip-Hop, World and more.
The Jolly Oyster
Experience DIY oyster shucking by the beach at The Jolly Oyster Shuck Shack at San Buenaventura State Beach Park. Featuring fresh, raw, sustainably-farmed oysters from Baja California, the shuck shack is a relaxed atmosphere where you can learn to shuck oysters like a pro. Bring your own picnic and drinks to complete the meal at this pet- and family-friendly spot. Photo: Kamilo Bustamante
Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology
Otherwise known as “The Bird Museum,” this Ventura hidden gem is both a natural history collection specializing in eggs and nests of birds from around the world and a research and education institution dedicated to bird conservation. The Foundation’s collections are among the largest in the world; the WFVZ houses more than four hundred individual collections, totaling more than a million specimens of eggs, nests and bird skins.
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Located in a new state-of-the-art facility at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum offers kids an exciting and educational experience. The Seabee Museum features interactive, family-friendly exhibits and programs to engage and inspire visitors about the lesser-known brave men and women in the Naval Construction Force.
The Channel Islands are a Ventura hidden gem hidden in plain sight. While anyone gazing out across the water can see the islands, few make the trip to explore these incredible islands first-hand. The Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary is known as “The American’s Galapagos,” and is a recreational hot spot is a backyard paradise for outdoor enthusiasts just 14 miles offshore. The island’s five distinctive islands—Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel— are home to 2,000 plant species and animals. Photo: Chuck Graham
California’s Central Coast consists of:
VENTURA REGION: Ventura County, Camarillo, Conejo Valley, Heritage Valley, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley
SANTA BARBARA REGION: Santa Barbara County, Buellton, Carpinteria Valley, Goleta, Lompoc Valley, Los Olivos, Santa Maria Valley, Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGION: San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Cayucos, Grover Beach, Harmony, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Simeon
MONTEREY BAY REGION: Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, Carmel, Gilroy, Hollister, San Benito
About Central Coast Tourism Council
The Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) is a non-profit organization comprised of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs; Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) throughout the California Central Coast. Comprised of tourism and hospitality professionals, the mission of CCTC is to jointly promote the entire California Central Coast as a destination. The four regions that comprise California’s Central Coast include Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The CCTC also serves as the Central Coast’s voice in Sacramento, and as a partner with Visit California’s global marketing and advertising campaigns.