A city by the sea, Oxnard, California is an absolute dreamland of water-filled adventures. Residing along the coast of Southern California, Oxnard is a mid-way point between Santa Barbara, to the north, and Santa Monica, to the south. Oxnard enjoys temperate weather all year long. Its beautiful beaches are credited to its remote location from busy freeways and big cities; in effect making Oxnard a coastal paradise unto itself. If you’re ready to discover Oxnard, California, read on to find out the 12 best things to do in this unique and ocean-fueled city.
1. Heritage Square; the focal point of Oxnard's history
Nestled in Oxnard’s historic downtown center is Heritage Square. A picturesque area of sparkling fountains and charming gardens, with beautiful Victorian-era homes, built between 1876 and 1912, as a backdrop. Eleven houses, a church, water tower, pump house and storehouse were moved, actually, to a single block and restored to their original grandeur. Heritage Square offers a walking tour of these incredible structures, and during summer months Heritage Square hosts outdoor concerts in the plaza area, and tea service in the Rose Garden. A popular tourist attraction, Heritage Square also has a restaurant, wine tasting room, visitor center and gift shop.
Address: 715 South A Street, Oxnard, CA 93030
Website: Heritage Square
2. Channel Islands National Park; must-see island marvels!
Known as the “Galapagos of North America”, Channel Islands National Park is an amazing and awe-inspiring destination comprised of five ecologically-rich islands off the coast of Southern California. A remote area, visitors can only arrive by park concessionaire boats or planes. Each island offers incredible sights worth investigating. A few island highlights are a 1932 lighthouse and clifftop Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island; the closest island to the mainland, 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Sea caves can be explored on Santa Cruz Island, and view thousands of seals that gather on San Miguel Island.
Channel Islands National Park
Address: Check website for departure information
Website: Channel Islands National Park
3. Channel Islands Harbor; the hub of Oxnard's water action
Channel Islands Harbor is always bustling with activity. A 50-year-old working harbor, Channel Islands Harbor is also the center of many tourist attractions. Not just a gateway to Channel Islands National Park, Channel Islands Harbor offers several enjoyable water activities, like fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking, and scuba diving. There’s a wonderful sandy park with biking and hiking paths and a great picnic area. A host of fresh seafood restaurants are on hand, and there’s a farmers market on Sundays, along with other year-round events.
Channel Islands Harbor
Address: 3900 Pelican Way, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Channel Islands Harbor
4. Smooth sailing good times at Channel Islands Maritime Museum
Located in the Channel Islands Harbor, Channel Islands Maritime Museum provides a treasure trove of great nautical art and an impressive collection of ship models. Visitors can also get a look at life-size boats when Channel Islands Maritime Museum hosts their annual Father’s Day “From the Tree to the Sea” Wooden Boat Show display. Channel Islands Maritime Museum showcases a range of galleries that include rotating and educational exhibits and nautical memorabilia, all designed to enhance Oxnard’s rich maritime history. Channel Islands Maritime Museum hosts many fun events as well, like Chowderfest, a chowder tasting and competition.
Channel Islands Maritime Museum
Address: 3900 Bluefin Circle, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Channel Islands Maritime Museum
5. Channel Islands Marine Floating Lab; best science class ever!
Channel Islands Marine Floating Lab is a fascinating and unique water experience. Guests learn about ocean life and the Pacific’s marine surroundings aboard the R/V Pacific Islander, that tours the Channel Islands Harbor. When nets haul up various sea life from the ocean depths, guests get the opportunity to touch and examine sea urchins, mollusks, and squid, among other things. The collected creatures are then kept alive in aquariums for further on-board exploration activities. Channel Islands Floating Lab creates a novel and innovative approach to raising awareness and understanding about the marine environment that hopefully visitors will carry with them long after class is dismissed.
Channel Islands Marine Floating Lab
Address: 4151 S Victoria Ave, Oxnard, CA 93035
Duration: 3 and a half hours
Website: Channel Islands Marine Floating Lab
6. Channel Islands Whale Watching; the supreme sea expedition!
Channel Islands Whale Watching is the premiere whale watching experience. Cruise along the breathtaking beauty of the Channel Islands while on the look out for these mammoth creatures. There are 78 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the world and 29 have been spotted near the Channel Islands, making Channel Islands Whale Watching the prime place to catch a glimpse of some of these fascinating ocean creatures.
Whale migration typically occurs between December and mid-April, and summer months are the best times to see humpback whales and blue whales. Even if the whales play shy, Channel Islands Whale Watching’s expert tour boat captains can no doubt find a pod of dolphins, or a gathering of sea lions to thrill sea life fans.
Channel Islands Whale Watching
Address: 4151 S Victoria Ave, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Channel Islands Whale Watching
7. See what's hip and happening at Carnegie Art Museum
You can’t miss the eye-catching exterior of the Greco-Roman architecture of the Carnegie Art Museum, and you won’t want to miss the array of art it houses inside. Some of the most interesting and avant-garde artwork in the world can be found at Carnegie Art Museum. Carnegie Art Museum’s paintings span from the traditional to the contemporary. There’s also sculptured art pieces and photography. A popular exhibit is a cherished collection of photographs by George Hurrell, a celebrated Hollywood photographer. Exhibits rotate fairly frequently, so subsequent visits can be met with new and exciting displays often.
Insider tip: step next door to the Carnegie Art Museum, or CAM, Studio Gallery and you might see a guest artist at work on his/her latest masterpiece.
Carnegie Art Museum
Address: 424 South C Street, Oxnard, CA 93030
Website: Carnegie Art Museum
8. Car fanatics? Mullin Automotive Museum is the road to paradise!
Established in 2010, Mullin Automotive Museum offers a dazzling array of automobiles from the private collection of businessman and philanthropist Peter W. Mullin. Mullin Automotive Museum’s founder has had a lifelong romance with the automobile, particularly the blend of design and art of the French cars of the prewar Art Deco period, circa 1920s and 1930s. Considered one of the finest collections of cars in the world, Mullin Automotive Museum showcases many elegant and beautiful roadsters and is an outstanding celebration of these incredible driving machines.
Mullin Automotive Museum
Address: 1421 Emerson Ave, Oxnard, CA 93033
Website: Mullin Automotive Museum
9. Mandalay State Beach; back-to-basics beach fun
Mandalay State Beach is a protected beach with coastal dunes and wetland. Mandalay State Beach is purposely left untouched because of its fragile sand dunes, plant life and wildlife; two threatened species of birds nest at Mandalay Beach, the Least Tern and the Snowy Plover. However, it is this aspect of Mandalay Beach that is part of its appeal. Many Southern California beaches are overcrowded and a bustle of manic energy, Mandalay State Beach offers a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere to play in the surf, build a sandcastle, read a book, practice yoga, even take a nap.
Mandalay State Beach
Address: 34.2011° N, 119.2484° W
Website: Mandalay State Beach
10. Oxnard Beach Park; typical California seaside glory
A superb stretch of white sandy beach is what will greet you at Oxnard Beach Park. Oxnard Beach Park also has an appealing recreational area, with meandering walkways, spacious lawns, barbecue and picnic spots, volleyball courts, and a children’s playground that features a large pirate ship jungle gym. With spectacular views of the Channel Islands to provide some alluring ambiance, Oxnard Beach Park is first-rate for sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, body boarding, and surfing. Oxnard Beach Park also offers wheelchair accessibility and dogs are welcome.
Oxnard Beach Park
Address: 1601 South Harbor Blvd, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Oxnard Beach Park
11. Blue Ocean Kayaking; awesome way to explore the Pacific!
Kayaking is definitely something you’ll want to do while visiting Oxnard, and Blue Ocean Kayaking offers an amazingly unique adventure. However be aware, the seas are beautiful, but they can be treacherous, particularly to a novice. Situated in the Channel Islands Harbor, Blue Ocean Kayaking is a guided kayaking expedition that starts on the Sunfish, a custom-built supported kayak vessel.
Adventurers are then ferried to Anacapa Island where they can glide their way around secluded coves and sea caves, tall weathered cliffs, and kelp beds. Explore various marine life, like seal rookeries, sea birds, and reefs as you paddle through the one-of-a-kind environment. Blue Ocean Kayaking is an incredible way to explore the gorgeous rocky landscape, water formations and wildlife of the Channel Islands.
Blue Ocean Kayaking
Address: 3600 Cabezone Way, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Blue Ocean Kayaking
12. Marine Emporium Landing; you'll want to get snared in this tourist trap
Marine Emporium Landing is a tourists’ dream. A top-notch destination to do just about everything on a traveler’s agenda. Enjoy excellent waterfront dining, at such places as Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar. A classy eatery with fresh seafood dishes from Oxnard’s coastal waters. Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar also offers live music and a patio on the harbor. If you have more casual fare in mind, like coffee, pastries or sandwiches, stop by Honey Cup Coffee Bar. For water action there’s kayaking and paddle boarding, along with sports fishing. Want to see the coastline from a different perspective? Take advantage of the many boat charters available. If you want to pick up the pace hop on a jet ski and make waves along Oxnard’s inviting shoreline.
Marine Emporium Landing
Address: 3600 Harbor Blvd, Oxnard, CA 93035
Website: Marine Emporium Landing
Nature's water wonderland...Oxnard
Oxnard is a place like no other. A lively seaside city, Oxnard has an endless supply of aquatic things to do in a picturesque environment. One could easily get water-logged, but in the best possible way. From the exploration of beaches and islands to many sporting and leisure activities enjoyed in or near nature’s ultimate ocean playground, the Pacific Ocean, Oxnard is the top spot to soak-in when you need an ideal place to let loose by the sea.
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