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Ace Ventura: oysters, craft beer and wildlife in California’s most laid-back city | Travel

The San Buenaventura state seaside is all however empty of sunbathers. The solely our bodies on show are those at Surfers Point, the place a continuing churn of frothy white peaks retains them bobbing aloft on their distant boards. From there, the sands sweep south to infinity, or at the very least to the neighbouring city of Oxnard. It’s a 10-mile stretch of southern Californian shoreline, lower than an hour’s drive from Malibu, and there’s not a star tan in sight.

If you’ll be able to bear to show your gaze from the ocean and look again in direction of the car parking zone, you’ll see a blue trailer, with the phrases “The Jolly Oyster” painted in a suitably uplifting typeface. This is the common-or-garden home of a number of the rarest and healthiest molluscs within the US – it took Mark Reynolds, founding father of the company’s sustainable aquaculture farm, 15 years to carry them to desk. “Anyone else would have given up,” he admits. “But this part of the country had never had local oysters before. So if we were going to do it, we had to do it right.”

The trailer itself is a connoisseur expertise hiding in plain sight. The kitchen will put together you three completely different sorts of oysters, in addition to clams and stone crab, or you should purchase them market-style and shuck your personal. Either approach, it’s the perfect snack cease you’ll discover off Highway 101.

Rock strong … Channel Islands nationwide park. Photograph: Alamy

The Jolly Oyster is the proper metaphor for Ventura, a city ignored by Cali’s cool crowd, but quietly and dearly beloved by these who stay there. The place lacks pretension, or a hippy previous; predominantly blue-collar, its roots in fishing and agriculture are being developed by a era of younger entrepreneurs – not not like Portland, Maine, a number of years in the past. In the method, they’re creating a gorgeous cease for these in search of a West Coast expertise that isn’t all white linen trousers or tie-dye. And you’ll be able to eat nice meals for a fraction of the value of snooty Santa Barbara or fashionable San Luis Obispo.

In the harbour, Andria’s crisply battered fish and chips has attracted dedicated lunchtime queues for 3 many years now. The 1920s bungalow that homes Café Nouveau has been feeding the locals even longer. First as a Spanish then an Italian kitchen, it now specialises in an all-day breakfast that features good beignets, and occasional and walnut pancakes – and it nonetheless looks like consuming in somebody’s entrance room.

Newer influences are reworking the downtown space. Chef Kelly Briglio and Tina Thayer, co-owners of Paradise Pantry, plunder the bounty of the neighbouring farms and vineyards for his or her store and restaurant, which gives a number of 100 completely different cheeses and 350 wines. “We know that northern California has plenty to offer in terms of vineyards,” says Thayer, who curates the store’s wine choice. “But there’s interesting stuff happening closer to home, too.” She factors to the Plan B Wine Cellars, a comparatively younger vineyard whose vintages are already profitable awards and whose tasting room is an entertaining night time out in its personal proper.

Statue overlooking Downtown Ventura at sunset

Small city nightlife … downtown Ventura at nightfall. Photograph: Motionshooter/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just as impactful is the craft-beer revolution, which has spored dozens of breweries everywhere in the space. Some of the perfect have to be tracked down within the unlikeliest places, akin to Poseidon, whose intriguing brews – akin to its Bubblehead Blood Orange Ale and its Bullet Holes and Duct Tape Barleywine – are hidden away in the course of an industrial park. Others, like the favored Topa Topa, host neighborhood and humanities nights each week.

Ventura has all the time been a spot of shut neighborhood, with many households planted right here for generations. But there’s a palpable sense of effort to make the city extra inclusive, from the free courses and month-to-month artwork stroll that happen on the Bell Arts Factory – a co-operative of studios and gallery house – to the pop-up yoga run by Jen Spencer and Jessy Raspiller. The periods, which occur within the outside areas round city, have grow to be a well-liked assembly place. “When I first came here it felt like everyone already knew each other,” says Raspiller, “and it was sometimes hard to find your place.” Locations often embody the spectacular Botanical Gardens which overlook the city, however they’re at the moment recovering from a wildfire final yr.

Environmental duty is woven into the material of this city, virtually actually: it’s the headquarters for eco-outdoor model Patagonia. Biking and climbing of every kind are a significant exercise right here, from coastal trails to the Arroyo Verde Park and the Santa Monica Mountains. One of the city’s nice secrets and techniques is its ferry experience over to the Channel Islands, a nationwide park of such ecological significance that locals wish to name it their Galapagos.

The Jolly Oyster trailer

Trailer snack … a connoisseur expertise on wheels. Photograph: Kamilo Bustamante

Isolated from the mainland, they have preserved tons of of distinctive species together with the extraordinarily cute island fox, in addition to a 10,000-year-old set of human stays know as Arlington Springs Man (there’s proof that people have been residing right here 27,000 years previous to that). Five islands are open to guests, and make for nice in a single day tenting locations for these who respect the leave-no-trace method. If you’d quite take a day journey, park rangers lead guided walks that reveal the historical past of the Chumash individuals who lived right here, navigating between the islands in canoes. There are additionally kayaking and stand-up paddleboard excursions for these who don’t thoughts getting moist.

Still, it’s the surf that brings most guests to Ventura – and stays the rationale that many transfer right here. Mondos Beach, to the north-west, is the place for inexperienced persons. For the extra adventurous, Rincon (home to one of many world’s should well-known browsing contests) is a mere 15-minute drive up the coast. Surfers Point – identified to locals as “C-Street” – stays one of the crucial standard breaks, nevertheless, not least as a result of it’s proper within the centre of city. Ventura’s seashores are an awesome place to eat, drink and hang around – they’re simply not a spot for poseurs.

Way to go

The journey was offered by Visit Ventura, with lodging on the Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn (doubles from £125, room solely). For extra info, go to visitventuraca.com and visittheusa.co.uk. BA flies from Heathrow to Los Angeles from £404 return


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