It’s that time of year again, when families all around the country begin thinking about vacation. With the tremendous surge in gas prices during recent months however, many families are finding it challenging to take a vacation at all. Although some families are finding a less glamorous “stay-cation” to be their most viable vacation option, many others would much prefer to hit the open road and get out of town. With the willingness and flexibility to choose inexpensive educational destinations, an out of town vacation is still entirely possible.
The state of California isn’t exactly known for being an inexpensive place to live or play. But it is a place rich in history and therefore, full of educational opportunities. For those families willing to plan their vacation around these educational attractions, an inexpensive and enriching vacation is there for the taking!
The city of Ventura, a coastal city located approximately 90 miles north of Los Angeles, is a place that is perfect for a family looking for an educational and inexpensive vacation. One look at this beautiful seaside town and you might scoff at the notion that an inexpensive vacation is possible here, but it is. You just have to know where to look!
Downtown Ventura is without a doubt, an area rich in the history of this community. To Ventura natives, downtown feels like the heart of the entire city. With several blocks of historical buildings and homes, fun shops, and amazing restaurants, downtown Ventura is tough to beat. And although one could certainly spend a lot downtown, it isn’t necessary. Many Ventura residents would argue that the best place to eat in all of downtown is a very unassuming little Mexican Restaurant called Taqueria Vallarta, which serves up yummy Mexican food to lines of customers for well under $10 per item. While downtown, be sure to check out the wealth of inexpensive and sometimes free educational locations. The Ventura Mission, the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, the Albinger Archaeological Museum, and the old county courthouse are all open to the public and free to visit. Best of all, each of these educational attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Another great place to visit while in Ventura, is the Ventura Harbor, located at the end of Spinnaker Drive. The Ventura Harbor is home to many cute little shops, and one of the most popular seafood restaurants in the whole city. Being right next to the docks, Andrea’s Seafood has arguably some of the freshest and tastiest seafood in the city. It’s a hot spot for locals, and an inexpensive place to eat, with most entrees priced under $15. After lunch at Andrea’s, take a short drive 2.5 miles to the historic Olivas Adobe. Turn back onto Spinnaker in the direction you came from, once it crosses Harbor Blvd. it becomes Olivas Park Drive. After the golf course, you’ll see the adobe on your right. Admission is free for a self-guided tour around the grounds, so this is another wonderful addition to your inexpensive and educational vacation.
Last but not least to include in your inexpensive vacation to Ventura, is the beach! Ventura has several miles of fantastic beaches. Don’t underestimate the educational value of a day at the beach for children. Spending the day working with sand and water, and watching the waves roll in are very enriching activities. A packed lunch of sandwiches is very inexpensive, and best of all, parents get to relax! Just don’t forget the sunblock and fluids.
If your vacation needs to be inexpensive enough to omit hotel costs, consider camping at one of the state beaches in the area. McGrath State Beach is located near Ventura Harbor, and Emma Wood State Beach is located just North of downtown Ventura. You could even hit the Pacific Coast Highway South for a bit towards Malibu, and camp at either Malibu State Park or Leo Carillo State Park. All of these state beaches offer primitive camping for $25 per night. You’ll need to pack for cold weather when camping on the beach. Even in the midst of Summer, nights at the beach can be very cold.
For more information, check out the California State Park website. To make your reservations by phone, call (800)444-PARK. An additional $7.50 reservation charge applies.