The Gold Coast in Ventura, California provides the opportunity for an epic road trip. However, it all starts with having a durable car, and you want to make sure your ride is safe, economical, and gives you plenty of comfort. After all, you can’t have a great road trip if you’re wasting all of your money on gas or don’t have enough leg room. Experiencing the winding roads of the California coastal highway is punctuated by the perfect pit stops. But with so many “must-see” lists highlighting Southern California, how do you even know where to begin?
Narrow your stopping points down to six key destinations. This is the perfect number for a long weekend of winding up and down the coast. Too many stops, and you’ll feel pressured and quickly burn out. We’ve taken care of the research for you and highlighted the six significant stops along the Gold Coast in Ventura:
- Cycle the Ojai Paved Bike Path. It’s one of the top-ranked bike paths in the area and will give you a great option for stretching your legs. Although the right vehicle will have the opportunity to store bikes, that’s not necessary. There are plenty of reasonably priced bike shops near the start of the trail. The best way to ride is at sunrise when the weather is still cool and there’s not as much (cycling) traffic. You’ll also be first in line for one of the many bakeries and breakfast joints that open up early near the path.
- Ventura Pier and Promenade. Arguably, the most famous pier in Southern California is in Santa Monica. However, it’s always crowded and bustling. In Ventura, the charming pier is a throwback to a simpler time and you won’t need to elbow through a crowd to experience it. Park nearby and take a stroll to the romantic destination where you’ll find fresh seafood, live entertainment via buskers, and a number of cute little shops. Consider it your Southern California pier alternative.
- Ventura Botanical Gardens. The climate in Southern California is ideal for many tropical plants. In the gardens, you’ll be able to explore a vast variety of flowers—many of which attract a diverse species of butterflies. Special events take place in the garden year-round, such as concerts and wine, as well as paint nights. Check the calendar to see what’s happening during your stop off the Gold Coast highway.
- Surfers Point Park. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or you want to sign up for your first lesson, this is the place to do it. There are so-called “best” surf spots all around California, but this has long been a destination for famous surfers looking for the perfect conditions. The prices of surf lessons and rentals are pretty steady throughout Southern California, so you won’t need to shop around for the lowest price. Prefer to boogie board or watch the pros instead? Head to the park early in the morning when it’s a little less crowded and only the most skilled surfers are taking on the waves.
- Lake Casitas Recreation Area. People automatically think “beach” when they hear Southern California calling, but don’t forget about the pristine lakes. This recreation area is perfect for hiking, picnic, and lake activities including swimming and fishing. It’s a quieter getaway that makes it quite possible to be the only person once you settle into your trail or chosen picnic area.
- Ventura Flea Market. Nothing compares to the thrill of a treasure hunt, and in Ventura, the famous flea market is where you’ll be able to snag some great deals. Whether you’re looking to take home a piece of local history or on the prowl for the perfect vintage outfit for a night on the town at Surfer’s Brewery, you’ll be in for a number of surprises at this local haunt. Come prepared to bargain and negotiate, and don’t forget also to come hungry—many food vendors are vying for your attention here.
The Gold Coast has a lot to offer, and a road trip is a perfect way to get on the fast track to seeing it all. When it comes to pit stops, choose your options wisely. These six will keep you entertained and immersed in the real culture of Ventura.