Planning a trip up the California Coast? Be sure to place a big gold star on the map next to Ventura, and the Ventura Botanical Gardens.
We’re so fortunate to have the California coastline at our disposal for addressing fits of wanderlust. Pile in the car and roll the windows down, salt air tingling, sun shining. There’s nothing quite like it.
“I have to pee”
“Quit touching me”
“He licked me!”
Unto every idyllic family roadtrip, a little spit must land. That’s the law of the road. Planning for frequent and fun pit stops helps to keep the spit at bay.
Ventura, California is a must stop city. You could spend days here but if you are just passing through, or pressed for time, the Botanical Gardens and downtown area are a pitch perfect stop to feed, water, and tire out your antsy back seat residents, leaving you free to blast the tunes and bliss out on the next leg of your coastal jaunt.
You don’t have to travel far out of your way to reach Ventura. It’s a quick hop off the 405 and you are right downtown. To visit the Botanical Gardens, head for the iconic City Hall at the top of Main Street. Pull around back and head uphill to the uppermost parking lot. This is where you will want to park to access the trails. Visit Ventura has an awesome video showing the Ventura Botanical Gardens and trails from an aerial view if you are looking for some context.
Note: There are public restrooms in City Hall – pull around the back and access via the double glass doors there, then head up to the trail parking lot. There are no restrooms closer to the trails.
Ventura’s Botanical Gardens comprise miles of trails that snake up the hills, but you don’t have to venture too far from the parking lot to get a quick, gentle workout in. Along the way you will spy rock walls that date back to the time of the Missions. Efforts have been made to preserve local plants as well as to cultivate a fascinating assortment of South American succulents and specimens including the Chilean Wine Palm.
The trails here are wide and the ascent is not too steep for strollers and even wheelchairs. These trails are made to be enjoyed by many. You don’t have to be a super-fit climber to go for a hike here. It’s worth the small amount of uphill effort. The payout is huge, ten minutes of walking will net you a breathtaking view.
It’s a popular route with locals. There’s inviting places to rest, chat and enjoy the view along the way.
If you are lucky enough to get a tour from a docent, like we were with Lorie (see Live Stream Video), you can learn about the edible plants all along the way
Lemonade bush and Elderberry are just a few of the edible plants we learned about on our hike. There’s almost always something new or interesting in bloom and you don’t have to be a naturalist to figure out what the plants are. There’s just the right amount of signage along the trails.
Head back down the hill to town and enjoy a stroll through some of the charming thrift shops, or stop for lunch at one of the many hip restaurants. Time for some quick shopping and you are back on the road!
Live Stream Video of The Ventura Botanic Gardens
Thanks to Ventura County Coast for hosting me on a recent press trip and providing a tour of the gardens.
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