Ventura County West : a playful destination

By Guest Wine Dude Allan D. Kissam

Between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara runs the US 101 that alternates between rolling hills and stunning sea views. Family activity abounds at a mid-point stop in Ventura County West making for an excellent three day vacation close to the heart of Los Angeles. This locale consists of Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura.

Choose day trips between wine tasting, old airplanes, classic cars, or whale watching. Just to name a few activities and leaving off the tourist-friendly downtown shops and eateries with craft beers.

Channel Islands National Park is just 11 miles away by boat tour. The sea between the beach and islands often has whales feeding while transiting along the coast. Scores of porpoises in the area will be seen hunting and it is fun to determine their coordinated strategy, just like human hunters flushing out game by beating the brush.

Beach walks and bike path fun is available right from your room at Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort. Following a complimentary hearty breakfast, with cook-to-order service, your children have a multi-part swimming pool to enjoy with playmates. Ventura County West has a thriving wine industry and, in my opinion, Herzog Wine Cellars is a “must stop” for tasting experiences along with lunch at the Tierra Sur restaurant. If no time for driving winery touring, at Heritage Square is a tasting room for Rancho Ventavo Cellars that specializes in small lot artisanal wines.

Masterpiece Series Performances in Music

Evenings can include New West Symphony where pre-concert dining provides special time with music lovers discussing the evening concert. On my visit, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” performance in the Masterpiece Series of concerts included a display of local artist’s impressions of the music.

Horsepower and Art Deco

Mullin Automotive Museum
has a display of automobiles in a private collection shared with the public. On my visit was the special display of The Art of Bugatti, so check the calendar for any special events. The museum focus is on cars of the machine age and brass era cars (1905-1915) up to World War II. The founder favors French unique designs and alongside the cars are displays of art deco collections. These are the cars you read about in great stories and literature, but thanks to this collection it can be fully appreciated. Many of the cars on display are actual race winners with custom engine developments giving the important edge. Visitors can get close up to these vehicles, peering inside at the two-seater racers without seat belts where driver and mechanic wore only eye goggles for protection.

More for Engineering History Buffs

World War II ended 70 years ago and for the USA the war started with Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters from Japan attacking the fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. See a real Zero on display at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, along with other period aircraft and artifact displays.


Driving back to Los Angeles and Orange County, I elected to take the Highway 1 route out of Oxnard and transit through Malibu Beach and into Venice Beach areas. Near the airport, I got on the freeway again and avoided the West LA crunch. Having taken in so much on a short trip, and not driving six hours there and back, means even the transit time can be enjoyable.

Previously published on

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *