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Oxnard

Oxnard

Discover this hidden gem tucked between L.A. and Santa Barbara

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Oxnard is where strawberries meet the sea. In this Ventura County city, some 60 miles northwest of LAX, you’ll find seven miles of white sand beaches, bountiful farm stands, some world-class taquerias, and a picturesque harbor that offers the closest access point to Channel Islands National Park. And as the meeting point of Pacific Coast Highway and Highway 101, it’s a classic stop on a coastal California road trip.

Things to Do in Oxnard

Start your visit—these maps will come in handy—with a stop at Heritage Square, where you can see Oxnard’s well-preserved Victorian-era architecture, either on your own or on guided tours. Then soak up some of Oxnard’s car culture: The town hosts cruise nights, meet-ups, and year-round car festivals and is home to two epic car museums: The Murphy Auto Museum showcases American classics while the Mullin Automotive Museum houses exquisite French cars from the Art Deco era, including the Bugatti of Lake Maggiore, a 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster that lived at the bottom of Lake Maggiore, on the border of Italy and Switzerland, for almost 75 years.

For a different kind of culture, take a tour of the world-famous drum factory, DW Drums. Or keep your eyes peeled for the guys who have helped give Oxnard the nickname “Boxnard”—it’s a national hub for boxing and home to many amateur and pro boxers, some of whom were born and raised here (such as Fernando Vargas and Hugo Centeno Jr.) or moved here to train (like Victor Ortiz, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Sergey Kovalev).

Sports fans have another way to see world-class athletes—in action—on the gridiron at the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp. The team’s grueling preseason preparations have been held in Oxnard most summers since 2001, and is a great chance to see the kind of work and dedication it takes to be on a pro football team. Admission is free (there is a charge for parking), and there are opportunities both for autographs and field access.

Beachside Activities in Oxnard

By day, you can chase powerful, expert-level waves at Silver Strand Beach, considered by many to be one of the surfing world’s best-kept secrets. In the winter particularly, surfers brave the chilly waters along this mile-long stretch for intense swells that are perfect for tube riding. At the Strand’s southern end is the historic La Jennelle shipwreck, a luxury liner that ran aground in 1970 and today forms Silver Strand’s jetty, and you can’t miss vibrant murals on the walls of the Port Hueneme Naval Base, painted by local artists. Stay late enough to take in one of the breathtaking sunsets, which are particularly spectacular during fall and winter.

Channel Islands National Park

For Oxnard’s wilder side, board an excursion to Channel Islands National Park, 11 miles off the coast. Spend the day diving, kayaking, swimming, hiking, camping, or exploring deep sea caves on these blissfully untouched islands. From late December into April, set sail on naturalist-led cruises by outfitter Island Packers to see migrating gray whales. For an adrenaline-pumping experience, go parasailing in Channel Islands Harbor with Channel Islands Parasail, a company headed up by highly trained U.S. Coast Guard Masters. (No experience is necessary.) Fishing enthusiasts shouldn't miss the opportunity to access the thriving marine habitats around the islands and coastal water. Book a partial-day or overnight trip with Channel Islands Sportfishing or Hook's Sportfishing to fish for halibut, white seabass, barracuda, yellowtail, rockfish, salmon, and much more.

Where to Eat and Drink in Oxnard

Recharge back in town. Oxnard boasts the most tacos per capita north of the Cali-Mex border, and you can chart your own tasting tour along the Taco Trail. (Fittingly, the town also throws a weekend-long celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day called Fiestas Patrias in mid-September.) When it comes to wine, Oxnard has been a force for a long time—it’s the home of ninth-generation wine producers Herzog Wine Cellars, where strict sustainability standards are followed. You can sample the results at their on-site restaurant, Tierra Sur. Between meals and tastings, shop the boutiques at The Collection at RiverPark, which also has nightlife options, such as Copper Blues Rock Pub and Kitchen and the comedy venue Levity Live, known to draw L.A.’s A-listers like David Spade, Patton Oswalt, and Jo Koy.

Hotels in Oxnard

Spend the night by the water at the new all-suite beachfront Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach or the harbor-front Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor. Further inland, you’ll find the spacious Homewood Suites, well-appointed Hilton Garden Inn, and conveniently-located Courtyard by Marriott and Best Western Oxnard Inn. Or stay right on a golf course at the Residence Inn by Marriott at River Ridge.

Things to Do Near Oxnard

Oxnard’s central location makes it a perfect jumping-off point for exploring a variety of nearby towns and attractions. Along with the already mentioned Channel Islands National Park, other nearby places well worth a visit are Santa Barbara, located about an hour up the coast and known for its beautiful beaches, Spanish architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. Visit the historic Santa Barbara Mission, explore State Street for shopping and dining, or relax on the stunning Butterfly Beach.

Drive about 25 miles due north from Oxnard and you’ll roll into Ojai, a town famous for its serene atmosphere and artistic community. Explore art galleries, take a scenic drive through the Ojai Valley, or enjoy a spa retreat at one of the local resorts. Head northeast on Route 126 and Santa Clarita will tempt you with the thrills of Six Flags Magic Mountain, a theme park with a deep inventory of roller coasters and thrill rides. The town also offers opportunities for more laid-back outdoor recreation, shopping, and dining.

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