Oxnard attracts many visitors with it sweeping agricultural pastures, majestic ocean views, and cool Pacific breezes. It’s a unique blend of maritime adventure and natural resources.
Nestled together in a 36 square mile ecological tapestry know as much as for being the strawberry and lima bean capital of California, as it the gateway to the Channel Islands that are located just 11 miles off its sandy shoreline.Although Oxnard retains the charm of a small rural town, the city has plenty of activities for visitors.
Centennial Plaza, on B Street beside Plaza Park is at the center of Oxnard’s vibrant downtown area, ands is always bursting with activity. The area boasts its own arts district, high-tech cinema, and over 40 intercontinental dining options including the best seafood around.
Plaza Park, located on 5th Street and B Streets, is a large lawn with scattered pines and palm trees, and a nostalgic Pagoda style bandstand from the early 1900s. It is frequently used by locals to hang out and relax as well as being a centerpiece for various year round family-friendly events with summer concerts, outdoor festivals, art shows, live theatre, and holiday parades.
The annual Salsa Festival is held at the site every July and brings together salsa vendors from all over the country to compete in the Great Oxnard Salsa Challenge.
Patrons can sample dozens of different salsas – from mild to wild –in the Salsa Tasting Tent, or browse the more than 75 booths that line the festivalsmarket place, featuring gourmet salsas and sauces, boutique clothing,hand crafted jewelry, and much more.
Neighboring the park is the Carnegie Art museum; a Neoclassical building that was originally built as a library back in the early 1900s and later turned into a museum. Inside visitors are treated to an assortment of paintings and photography from several California artists.
Two additional cogs to Oxnard’s cultural core, is the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center, which offers musicals, plays, concerts and seasonal events, and Heritage Square with its lush gardens and walk ways that meander through the 15 restored Victorian structures.
The area is also home to the Elite Theatre, and a visitor center. In the summertime on Friday evenings there is a concert series held in the central square. Besides its artsy and cultural side, Oxnard is best known for its maritime history and sandy beaches.The Channel Islands Harbor and Fisherman’s Wharf is an excellent place to take the family and spend an afternoon.
The harbor is split into three areas. The area furthest to the east off Victoria Street has a complex with a small maritime museum surrounded nautical-style buildings.
The Ventura County Maritime Museum is comprised mostly of model ships, but there is also an interesting collection of old photos of Port Hueneme, as well as great exhibit about a sunken ship that was found off the coast.
Outside there are plenty of picnic tables that on the weekends fill up fast as many line up outside the fish fryer place on the northern end of the complex to sample the “catch of the day.”
Further down from the museum is a calm little cove known as Kiddy Beach, and at the end is Silver Strand Beach, named for its sandy shore.
The harbor’s middle section or peninsula, is a sheltered haven to large numbers of pleasure and working vessels, and is also home to many locals who line its inner canals with multi-million dollar residences and condominiums featuring their own private docks.
Many can be seen from shoreline vantage points along the harbor walkway, but for a more up close look, visitors can rent electric boats to get that unique “on the water” view. Towards the end of the walkway is Peninsula Park, where kids can watch the boats in the harbor and parents can enjoy plenty of shady trees.
The west side of the harbor is comprised primarily of commercial fishing docks and supply stores where you can rent Segways and bikes. A great local spot here is Lookout Bar and Grill with its balcony overlooking the harbor.
The west side also serves as one of two locations in Ventura County for Island Packers, the only company licensed by the park service to take tourists out to the islands.
Finally, if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, or a romantic evening interlude, then Hollywood Beach with its abundance of white sand can provide the perfect landscape. There is so much sand that it covers the neighboring streets with their beach houses that all have their own unique charm.
Oxnard is about 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and about 95 miles from the heart of Orange County. To get to Oxnard, exit Highway 101 at Highway 1 / Oxnard Blvd, and then go three miles.