My mother in law, who lives in Canada, likes to describe how – like the Canada Goose – she flies south each winter to escape the cold. We took her lead recently and escaped the chill of Northern California to the warmer climate in the sleepy beach town of San Buenaventura, California – or rather the shortened “Ventura” – where we have friends. (Curiously I have found that the word “Patagonia” – the outdoor clothing and gear company founded in Ventura – and “Buenaventura” share the same number of syllables. Nonetheless, the city name got the the chop a long time ago.)
Ventura is a sleepy seaside and surf town. The area feels off the beaten track and we enjoyed exploring it.
Mission San Buenaventura, (1782), named for St. Bonaventure of Tuscany, is the ninth and last mission founded by Junipero Serra in California.
The gardens feature flowers and plants typical of the climate in Southern California. I’ll admit this girl from the north is envious of the colorful and lush landscaping possibilities here.
We took a whale watching tour with Island Packers out to the Channel Islands.
We missed the annual southern migrating gray whales that day (pregnant mothers arrive in the area first, then juveniles, followed last by the males) but experienced a pod of about 75 dolphins jumping and splashing around the boat. And this New Years Eve sunset was a special treat on our return to the harbor.
Ventura’s city hall is beautiful. This is the view looking down from it to the shore, with the iconic palm trees lining the street.
The flagship Patagonia store in its historic building is not to be missed for some high-end outerwear shopping.
We welcomed 2013 tasting some of the best $1.25 carnitas tacos in nearby Carpinteria where we also discovered by chance a lovely bluffs nature reserve and a beautiful and long sandy beach without crowds. Some of the tallest and skinniest palm trees I’ve ever seen line its small downtown and we twisted our heads back to peer up at them. The local surf shop had just the pair of Havaianas sandals I was looking for.
Soaking in the Southern California sun we came down for, we watched the surfers to the beat of the crashing waves.