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On the steps of San Buenaventura City Hall stands the statue of Father Junípero Serra, founder of the eponymous Mission San Buenaventura. It is here that you’ll find Ventura’s nexus, at Father Serra’s side, its past held in its century old city hall. A quick about-face holds Ventura’s present, a meandering city street sleepily unfolding into the ocean, flanked by gently swaying palm trees. Ventura began as a long held Chumash settlement, Shisholop, later displaced by California missions, solidified in the modern context by the historic U.S. Route 101 (now Ventura Highway). Many passed through, and little by little an enraptured population remained, held steadfast by the “city of good fortune”.

Amidst Ventura’s many gifts, the ocean is what truly holds captive the hearts of the locals and enamors its many visitors. Bestowed with a wonderfully irregular coastline, beach conditions can change from point to point, resulting in a stunning variety and wide appeal for all coastline activities. Surfer’s Knoll, a popular local surf spot is just a stone's throw from Harbor Cove Beach, nicknamed ‘Mother’s Beach’ due to its protective cove creating a safe family swimming destination. San Buenaventura State Beach sprawls alongside Ventura, punctuated by its picturesque promenade and pier.

While its difficult to avert your gaze from the city’s gorgeous coastline, there’s plenty happening in the city worthy of your undivided attention. Walk the beautiful promenade at seaside Ventura Harbor Village, a bright family-friendly destination boasting dozens of boutiques, galleries bars and restaurants (many duking it out to claim the title for the city’s best fish taco - a battle we’re happy to be in the middle of!). Its proximity to the harbor also makes it the launch point for boat tours and kayak rentals, taking full advantage of its ideal locale. Further in town you’ll find a bevy of wineries taking full advantage of local California grapes and microbreweries producing some of California’s best craft beers to enjoy in outdoor patios.

Ventura’s harbors provide easy access to the stunning Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. Comprised of five unique islands strung along the Santa Barbara Channel, these islands are home to thousands of distinct plant and animal species, earning it the nickname “The Galapagos of North America”. Numerous charter boats and adventure tour companies are on hand to help introduce these rugged coastal gems, each with their own unique pull. Santa Cruz Island is an adventure seeker's paradise, hosting challenging sea cave kayaking and unique rugged camping opportunities. Anacapa Island provides short hikes, and two distinctly wonderful viewpoints: Pinniped Point, providing a vista view of local sea lion and elephant seal colonies; and Inspiration Point, and unforgettable cliff-point panorama of the jagged coastal formations of Santa Cruz Island. Those less intrepid will undoubtedly enjoy a cruise or boat tour around the islands, particularly in the summer. Ten percent of the global blue whale populations converges on the national park each summer, providing an unmissable opportunity at an up close and personal experience with these majestic giants.

Dubbed the “land of endless summers”, it’s hard not to fall a little in love with this little beach town bursting with gifts.

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Camille Osborne

Aerial dancer • Local Culture

Camille Osborne is a distinguished professional aerial arts dancer from Ventura with big dreams and aspirations, including being a part of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil. Although she trained in classical ballet at the Ballet Academy Ventura from the age of four, Camille discovered aerial art by happenstance, in the garage of her best friend, Zoe. Zoe’s parents had set up an apparatus in their garage and Camille immediately fell in love. Shortly after, she began training in aerial arts at The Aerial Studio in Ventura where her hard work and dedication has made her into quite the decorated athlete. Her accolades include first place in her category at the West Coast Aerial Competition, first place in her category and winner of the Viva Fest Competition, and second place at Circus Star USA. She’s also performed for events like Soca Festival and the Americana at Brand Christmas show.

With a vigorous training schedule, Camille spends a lot of time at The Aerial Studio where she’s able to get all of the training she needs to succeed—from dance to aerial, to acrobatic, to contortion, to flexibility and conditioning. At The Aerial Studio, she trains 5 days a week with her pre-professional troupe. The troupe incorporates theatrical skills and choreography and performs twice a year in Ventura. When she’s not training with the troupe, Camille is often at the Studio practicing acts by herself for competitions and shows. Between her aerial aspirations, Camille scours Ventura thrift shops for clothes, explore Ventura’s beaches and natural areas and enjoys the “typical” high school experience, attending football games and dances.

Amara Bessa

Owner of Kariella Boutique • Fashion & Design

Amara is the owner of Kariella, a clothing and accessory boutique in Ventura, California. Amara started Kariella (named after her daughter and muse) in 2010 out of her garage. After gaining over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, working for large and small retailers, she had decided it was time to open her own shop, but there was one problem - she wasn't rich! The solution, start small, in her garage selling to women she knew in the community and test the waters. She needed to see if her keen eye and distinctive taste had what it would take to turn a dream into a reality. A few months later she was renting a small 400 sq ft space in the quaint town of Bend, Oregon and her dream was officially a reality. She was so excited, she decked out her new space with Craigslist finds, yard sale furnishings and anything she could get her hands on for a steal of a price (she was not rich, remember)! Her space was a clear reflection of her heart and soul, it was oozing with passion and she was happy as a clam. About a year down the road she moved her tiny little shop to Downtown Bend and doubled in size and after a surge of new customers, doubled in size again. She is a true believer that you can accomplish incredible things once you focus and set your mind to something. So now you might be asking how did she get from Bend to Ventura? She actually grew up in Ojai, California, so naturally, once her now 4 year old shop was established in Bend she was thinking about a second location and what better place than her hometown. She was also, at this point, itching to move back to Cali, so she thought it would be best to get herself setup there and what do you know...the most perfect space ever fell right into her lap! If you've never been to Kariella in Ventura, you must try and visit. It's just beautiful, old, charming and rustic, it even has a fireplace. Now with two stores and a year of back and forth between locations, something had to give. Amara decided to go back to her roots and focus on her Ventura shop. She had put a lot of blood sweat and tears into her Bend location, so it was a bittersweet decision, but nevertheless the right one for her. Amara and her children could now spend time with each other and their family as Amara is a firm believer that family should always come first. So that brings her to today, the current owner of a dreamy shop in Ventura California and an online store.

Amara always makes the time to find beautiful and interesting brands so that she can offer a selection you won't see anywhere else. While she believes in affordability, she also believes some things are worth splurging on. Incredible fabrics being one of them and goods that are handmade or domestically made being another. Craftsmanship is an art form whether its clothes, jewelry or furniture, and Amara feels that anything handmade should be recognized and celebrated. You will see quite a few US made designers on Kariella's site along with unique handcrafted goods. While Amara spends some of her days buying for the shop, she also works on the floor, photographs and models all of Kariella's styles for web, merchandises, styles, coordinates events and runs all of Kariella's marketing. She's a Jill of all trades if you will, and that's what she loves. Her ambition could take her to the moon (although she'd would probably get motion sickness up in space, so would prefer to stay on earth).

She believes strongly in community and coming together to support each other, "we are all in this life together for a reason, why not make it a positive one." She takes care of her customers and they take care of her, it's a give, give. Amara hopes you will join Kariella's community on your visit to Ventura. "Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much" - Helen Keller

Mary Osborne

Professional Surfer • Outdoors

Born and raised in Ventura, Professional surfer Mary Osborne has inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The list of Mary’s accomplishments is long, but it’s her smile, warmth, and ability to inject a big dose of fun into everything she does that will make joining her on one of her Ventura's escape adventures one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. She loves her hometown and cant wait to share it with you.

Seth Gibson

Co-Founder of MadeWest Brewing Company • Craft Beer

Seth Gibson is the co-founder of MadeWest Brewing Company, a production brewery and tasting room in Ventura. Born and raised in Ventura, Seth has always loved the city's ideal location, with its possession of some of the best surf spots in the state as well as close proximity to plenty of backcountry hiking trails. Now that he and his wife are raising their two small kids here, he's even more aware of all that makes it a special place. Seth's goal has always been to have MadeWest represent the qualities of his hometown. The tasting room has become the kind of community gathering place that he always envisioned for the city, welcoming in everyone from beer enthusiasts looking for the latest releases, to regulars grabbing post-workday pints, to groups celebrating special occasions and listening to live music. These are the people and everyday experiences that Seth believes make Ventura a great place to spend either a day or a lifetime.