Oxnard, California, is a special place, just north of Los Angeles, where you’ll find a quiet, beautiful, clean city for a perfect get away in the strawberry, vegetable, and flower growing center of Southern California. It is the Gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Reserve. Be sure to enjoy the downtown Farmers’ Market in Plaza Park. In addition to an array of fresh produce and flowers you’ll also find hand-made handicrafts. On the last week-end of July enjoy the colorful, joyful scene of the annual Salsa Festival with music and dancing and samplings from the local Mexican restaurants, known as some of the best in Southern California.
The Greco-Roman Temple-styled building is the Carnegie Art Museum and library. You’ll also enjoy a step into the past in the Woolworth Building, which houses memorabilia from the world’s largest chain of stores, which closed its doors permanently in 1997 after 118 years of success.The preservation is thanks to David Feigin. Inside you’ll discover an old fashioned Woolworth style eatery Fresh & Fabulous, whose name says it all. Be sure to enjoy breakfast or lunch here and the delicious bakery items and listen to the Jukebox oldies or order a box lunch for your picnic.
Just a few blocks away enjoy Heritage Square,a square block preservation area to which fifteen buldings dating from 1880 – 1912, the earliest days of Oxnard, were relocated and completely restored, and the center was opened in 1991. Costumed docents give free guided tours on week-ends. There are eleven houses, a pump house, and a the first wooden church. Oxnard was founded as a town in the center of this agricultural area by the Oxnard family from France, who built the largest beet sugar factory in the world in 1898, costing two million dollars. The Oxnards added housing for the employees and lured other businesses here. The factory continued to operate until 1958.
Heritage Square holds free, live concerts Friday nights in the summer for about 800 people in the center in front of La Dolce Vita Ristorante. This restaurant features delicious Italian cuisine from cherished family recipes and is acclaimed by locals as one of the best restaurants in Oxnard. I highly recommend the linguini Bolognese or the salmon and penne pasta in a cream sauce, and for dessert: chocolate chip warm bread pudding with caramel sauce and glazed walnuts. Delicious! On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights be sure to visit Rancho Ventavo Cellars just across the walkway for sampling several of the newly-relocated winery’s special reds and whites, which are excellent paired with any of the selections at La Dolce Vita, which features these wines.
Oxnard’s Elite Community Theater performs year-round in the basement theater of the Petit House in Heritage Square. The small venue holds only 50 people and the season tickets are only $85.
While you are enjoying the beautiful agricultural and historical surroundings of Oxnard or shopping at the outlet stores or soon to come Collections at River Park stores, let Roadrunner Limousine, Towncar, and Shuttle Service do the driving and tell you the history of the periods of architecture while you relax. You might want to stop at the beautiful Gothic Revival style Santa Clara Church and see the stain glass windows or visit the medical museum in the small hospital where movie stars came in the 1920’s and 1930’s and Dr.Floyd J. Swift delivered over 5,000 babies in painless childbirth ( 1914 – 1940), the first place to use the miracle analgesic drug that was later banned because of many blue baby births. The Swift house and hospital was a museum and has recently become the Mercies Charities Housing facilities for low-income apartments, an ideal re-use of this historical property.
The city of Oxnard has become a model city with a published plan which other cities can adopt for becoming clean, safe, and prosperous. Ten years ago a program was implemented soliciting the watchful eye and volunteer services of citizens and students to keep neighborhoods and parks and streets in their area and report suspicious activities. Great success has been achieved and interactive caring and participation continues to grow, to the benefit of everyone, turning Oxnard into a thriving, beautiful, and welcoming destination for travelers.
Wine Tasting With Joe Hurliman, Winemaker
Herzog Winery is the only producer of the certified Kosher wine in Southern California. Vintners since the nineteenth century in Chezkoslavakia, the Herzog family moved to the USA in 1948 and expanded their productions to California in 1985. In 2004 the winery was built in Oxnard, choosing the best varieties of grapes for their various brands of whites and reds from vineyards all over the state. You can sample many of their fine wines in the Tasting Room and learn about the Kosher production practices and the wines made from Certified Green vineyards, which grow grapes with sustainable environment and employee protecting practices. After making your selections for purchase be sure to enjoy an excellent Kosher and dairy free meal in the Tierra Sur Restaurant, where the renowned Chef Todd Aarons creates special menus daily with the freshest local produce enhanced by a Mediterranean influence…absolutely delicious!
Don’t leave Oxnard without visiting the small jewel Ventura County Maritime Museum. The collections of seascape oil paintings dating to the 1500’s and the hand carved ship models of wood or bone are remarkable, and you’ll learn so much from the excellent art curator, Jaqueline Cavish. Before you visit Oxnard you should reserve your passage to the Channel Islands with Island Packers, which provides all kinds of boat services and tours and is usually booked several weeks ahead.
At the Channel Island Harbor you have the choice of many boat rentals of all types, from kayaks to bed and breakfast yachts. The Bill of Rights tall ship, which recently established its home port here is a 129′ double mast gaff rig top sail schooner built in 1971 and is now available for three-hour coastal cruises with Island Packers both Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Individuals can simply enjoy the sailing adventure while keeping a watchful eye out for dolphins, seals, sea lions and other marine life or experience a more adventurous role by helping the crew to sail the historic ship replica. Children and adults alike enjoy the experience of a step back into time when ships like this plied the oceans during the period of American history studied in school. You’ll be amazed that the quarters people lived in for months on end were so astoundingly cramped. It is also astonishing to learn how these ships could weather massive storms and to see how the vessels were operated. The Bill of Rights led the tall ships parade through New York Harbor in 1976 when America celebrated its 200th birthday
Be sure to take the water taxi for a delightful and nominally priced excursion around this clean, man-made harbor with beautiful mansions along the waterways. If you make reservations about two weeks ahead and have a group of 6 – 19 people you can enjoy a sunset cruise and progressive dinner, selecting from six restaurants at which to stop for your three different courses…(Name the 6 restaurants). This is a delectable way to spend an evening with the best of seafood and more, prepared in a variety of ways. Captain Bob will make sure you have a good tour and evening.
Spend a day or a week in Oxnard and you may want to give serious consideration to moving to this special place, the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park. We chose to stay at the Marriott Residence Inn, an older property which has been nicely renovated. Each double or single bedroom suite has a complete kitchen and widescreen TV in the living area with a sofa bed. There are several well-maintained, laeko surface tennis courts, a large heated swimming pool, and several hot tub spas, an exercise room and full hot breakfast included. On weekday nights you can enjoy complimentary happy hour and light supper.
The property is beside River Ridge Golf Course, where you can walk in early mornings or spend some of your holiday time playing rounds, whether you are on vacation or live in the area. Golf packages are available from the hotel. The course is a 36 hole, absolutely beautiful public golf course, where the price of rounds with cart are unbelievably inexpensive, and even cheaper on weekdays and for seniors or local residents. The large club house has really good food in the Café and can accommodate large groups in the dining room, a good pro-shop, lessons and tournaments. It is a fine golf course built in a unique way, on top of a city dump, where methane gas is pumped from below into tanks to turn into energy. You would never guess this beautiful landscape was once an ugly blight, and it is now serving great multipurposes for the enjoyment of everyone while transforming the area into healthy green space.
We also recommend the elegant Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort ,
the only all-suite hotel in southern California that sits directly on the beach. The wide, sandy beach is always clean and well-maintained as a National Park, and the hotel has every amenity you could want, whether you are there for leisure, family get-together, wedding, or business. The restaurants are excellent, from fine dining to patio cafe.
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If You Go:
RanchoVentavocellars.com 805 483 8084
Rivre Ridge Golf Club 805 983 4653
Island Packers 805-642-1393