Ventura has a well-rounded set of activities to keep its residents busy in their free time. The arts are respected here, and the city's Cultural Affairs Division manages events, activities and programs to promote cultural understanding and appreciation. Many of these events - ArtWalks, live music, and more - are held in the Downtown Cultural District.
The Downtown Cultural District has a dual role in the city. By day, it is a place to stroll through unique art galleries, shop in boutiques and enjoy a coffee or snack in a café. At night, downtown becomes an entertainment hot spot. Restaurants, clubs and eclectic live music venues attract those looking to share a drink or a meal with friends, enjoy music, dance or play pool.
Ventura features more than 700 acres of city-operated park facilities, including two championship golf courses, a 100-acre sports park and four beachfront parks. The sports park has a swimming center, multiuse fields and paths for jogging and bike riding. The beachfront parks are quite popular; these are Surfers' Point at Seaside Park, Promenade Park, Marina Park, and Harbor Cove Beach.
Harbor Cove Beach is adjacent to the Channel Islands National Park Headquarters, the information spot for island excursions. The Channel Islands are known for their fascinating sea caves and diverse ecological population. The islands are located about 14 miles offshore and can be seen from Ventura's coastline. Ventura has earned the nickname of 'Gateway to the Channel Islands, ' because many island visitors reach their destination by way of Ventura Harbor.
Several sites in town provide a deeper look into Ventura's history. The Mission San Buenaventura attracts many visitors annually. The facility was established in 1782 as California's ninth mission. That first building burned down in the next decade, but was later rebuilt and reopened just after the turn of the century. Also of note is the Dudley House Museum, built in the 1890s. This Victorian home has been authentically restored and now depicts life in Ventura as it was in the early-20th century.