Introduction to Ventura, California
The California city of Ventura (whose actual name is San Buenaventura) is located in western Ventura County, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. The city is linked to the Los Angeles metropolitan area and to nearby Santa Barbara by US Highway 101, also known as the Ventura Freeway. Other cities close to Ventura include Fillmore, Valencia, and Santa Paula. The nearby Port of Hueneme, a major resource for domestic and international trade and the only deep-water port between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is located only 12 miles south of Ventura.
The early roots of Ventura can be traced as far back as 1782, when Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Buenaventura, establishing the foundation of what would become the city. In 1890, the Union Oil Company was established and in 1914 drilling began at the main Ventura oil field, which produced 90,000 barrels a day at its peak. The fertile soil of the region between the Ventura and Santa Clara rivers, encompassing the city of Ventura, gave rise to another major local industry: citrus farming. In 1893, local farmers banded together to form the Southern California Fruit Exchange, later to become Sunkist Growers, the world's largest citrus-producing organization.
Incorporated in 1866, Ventura remained relatively isolated and rural for most of the following century. The city did not attract many immigrants during this time due to its inaccessibility. Travel from the south was slow and hazardous, there was only one road leading from the north, and the city was hemmed in eastward by mountainous terrain and deep canyons. In later years, the construction of roads and highways (most notably the Maricopa Highway in the 1920s and US Highway 101 in the 1950s and 1960s) mitigated this condition and led to a steady growth of the city, whose population has quadrupled in the last two decades.
Things to do in Ventura
Downtown Ventura is home to the Mission San Buenaventura. Also located downtown is the Ortega adobe, home to the Ortega family (now famous for their chili products). The Olivas Adobe, an early California Rancho home located adjacent to the Olivas Park Golf Course, is a present-day museum and site for performing arts. The Ventura Harbor is home to Ventura Harbor Village, a shopping village with nearby seafood restaurants. Ventura is also an excellent surfing town, with Surfer's Point being a popular spot.
Nearby Santa Barbara (27 miles to the northwest) is home to several more attractions. Among them are:
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art
- Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
- Santa Barbara Historical Museum
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
- Mission Santa Barbara
- Goleta Rail Museum
Pro sports fans are about a 90-minute drive away from Major League action featuring Los Angeles teams, including: The Los Angeles Dodgers (baseball), the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA basketball), the Los Angeles Clippers (also NBA), the Los Angeles Kings (NHL hockey), the Los Angeles Riptide (MLL lacrosse), the Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS soccer), and the Los Angeles Avengers (Arena Football League).