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Bi-weekly podcast

Exploring Ventura County

Three insiders share their take on this classic SoCal destination that features beachy vibes, excellent dining, and plenty of surprises

Located on the southern end of California’s Central Coast and just north of Malibu, Ventura County is an unheralded Southern California destination that is truly worth a visit. California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson interviews three guests on this episode, each with a distinctive take on the area.

To start things off, Johnson discusses skateboarding, BMX, and motocross with Valerie Ryan, vice president of fan experience and hospitality for X Games, which will be held in Ventura July 21–23. As Ryan points out, Ventura provides the perfect backdrop for the competition, and key events will be held with the Pacific Ocean in full view.

After that, the conversation heads inland as Johnson engages in a culinary-led conversation with Zoe Nathan, owner of a unique Ojai dining establishment called The Dutchess. This open-all-day eatery, Nathan explains, is a bakery in the morning, a café at lunchtime, and a Burmese restaurant at night. If it sounds a bit quirky, well, that suits the vibe in Ojai, an artsy enclave located 80 miles north of Los Angeles and 35 miles south of Santa Barbara.

The third and final guest on the episode, Lynne Andujar, is the editor in chief and CEO of the regional magazine 805 Living. Andujar shares some of her favorite experiences and attractions in Ventura, Ventura Harbor, Oxnard, and Thousand Oaks.


Valerie Ryan, vice president of fan experience and hospitality for X Games

Zoe Nathan, restaurateur and owner of The Dutchess

Lynne Andujar, editor in chief and CEO of 805 Living magazine


Valerie Ryan details what fans can expect at the upcoming X Games competition in Ventura.

X Games


San Diego

Los Angeles

Ventura County Fairgrounds

Los Angeles 2028 Olympics

X Games athletes

Tony Hawk

2023 California Road Trips guide

Zoe Nathan, who oversees the Rustic Canyon family of restaurants in Los Angeles County, opens up about her latest venture in Ojai.

The Dutchess  

Santa Monica

Rustic Canyon



Bonito Coffee

Michelin Guide: The Dutchess

Pinyon Ojai

Rory's Place

Topa Topa Brewing Co.

Ojai Valley Brewery

Tipple & Ramble

Chief Peak

Farmer and the Cook

Izakaya Full Moon

Sanders & Sons Gelato

Bart's Books

Ventura River Preserve

Ojai Valley Trail Riding Co.

Lynne Andujar, editor in chief and CEO of 805 Living magazine, keeps tabs on all the happenings from western Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.


Ventura Harbor Village

Channel Islands

Gondola Paradiso

Ventura Boat Rentals

Ventura Botanical Gardens

Museum of Ventura County

Paradise Pantry

Ventiki Lounge

Finney's Crafthouse

Strange Beast

Bank of Italy Cocktail Trust


Casa Agria Specialty Ales

Tierra Sur

Herzog Winery

Thousand Oaks

Gardens of the World

Santa Monica Mountains

Big Sycamore Canyon Trail

Sandstone Peak


Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis in 2016. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson uses the California Now Podcast platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.