Spending the winter in California has its benefits. There is so much to do outdoors to enjoy. There is no better location than VenturaCountyWest (the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura, about an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles). Even if you’ve visited California before, VenturaCountyWest offers places you’ve never seen, beaches you’ve never walked, and breathtaking scenery you’ve never experienced, all while enjoying near-ideal weather. Here are some activities for the whole family.

The area is full of bike lanes. Rent bikes on Main Street in Ventura at Ventura Bike Depot. The roads are mostly flat. Here’s a suggestion: After picking up your bikes, head towards the Ventura River. You will pass the Ventura County Fairgrounds, a bird sanctuary, and then encounter magnificent views of the ocean. Choose to stop at the 1,700-foot Ventura Pier for lunch at Beach House Tacos or travel a little further and have a picnic in a quiet, grassy area at San Buenaventura State Beach. The beach, which is never crowded, offers three kilometers for biking.

VenturaCountyWest has two ports. Rowing and electric boats for rent are also available at Ventura Harbor Village. While you’re there, be sure to check out the 32-animal indoor carousel in the village gallery. There are plenty of video and pinball games to keep the kids busy and homemade sweets and other goodies to nibble on. Since the town is located right in the port of Ventura, you can watch the fishing boats arrive with their fresh daily catch.

For an indoor adventure (and when the kids have too much energy), visit Sky High Sports in Camarillo. It’s full of trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Children can play dodge ball on the trampoline and other organized games or … just jump. Sky High also has arcade games and laser tag.

It is whale watching season. From now until mid-April, the whales migrate between the waters of Alaska and Mexico, passing through the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. Book whale watching tours with Island Packers of Ventura or Oxnard. While watching whales, you are also likely to see seals and dolphins along the way. Another ocean excursion to consider is the one near Channel Islands National Park. Just 11 miles offshore, these five islands are an all-natural playground for those who love to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, hike in nature, or just breathe in the fresh ocean air. Beginners can hike to one or all five islands, also through Island Packers.

For a more low-key family outing, pack a picnic lunch and take your family on a leisurely tour of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard on an electric boat from Hopper Boat Rentals. Hopper also offers paddle boards, kayaks, and paddle boats. All are great ways to get up close and personal with port life.

Where to stay:

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard is the only oceanfront suite resort in Southern California.

Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort is a short walk from Ventura Harbor Village with views of the harbor marine life and fishing boats.

Residence Inn Camarillo with complimentary breakfasts, free internet access, and kitchens in all rooms.

Crowne Plaza – Ventura Beach is the only hotel in Ventura CountyWest directly on the beach and is only two blocks from historic downtown Ventura.

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