I love a city that knows who it is and doesn’t have to be anything more than itself because it is that good. About an hour north of Los Angeles, Ventura County West is a place to relax renew and engage. In today’s article we’re going to explore this trending area of Ventura County and explore a killer recipe from Herzog Wine Cellars: Herzog Veal Meatballs with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce. Read on.
Someone got smart and figured out that marketing three different cities stretching 22 miles, Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura into a Ventura County West destination would make sense. The dynamic trio offers everything from vintage shopping, to beach time, to wine time, to whale watching, to exploring the Channel Islands National Park and championship golf (as well as foot golf). Add in the Camarillo Premium Outlets, a great year-round climate, a burgeoning culinary scene plus a very busy regional airport … and spending a night or two in the Ventura County West area seems to be the smart traveler’s choice.
Exit California Highway 101 to get to Ventura County West. You are going to be surprised and delighted to find places you never thought existed in this beach community. Walk the pristine beaches, sip elegant wines, taste farm-to-table food cuisine, hike trails with amazing views and stay in lodging that is just steps from championship golf. Each of the three cities has its own character and taste, giving each visitor the opportunity to match their mood and interests.
Discovering Ventura County West is easy and fun. I truly believe it is the California Coast’s rising star. Here’s my idea of an inspiring two-day stay. Feel free to make your “vaca” your own, but these suggestions represent some of the best of the best. Good for singles, families, grandparent’s weekend, girl’s weekend, duo’s and anyone else just wanting to hang out and unwind.
Lodging: All memorable vacations begin and end with great accommodations. My advice is to stay somewhere that has many of the comforts of home, is centrally located, and has something to do on property. With that in mind, I recommend the extended-stay hotel Residence Inn Oxnard River Ridge You’ll enjoy spacious guest rooms with a nice kitchen area and state-of-the-art 32-inch LG TVs. Just steps away you can hit the links at the adjacent PGA-rated River Ridge Golf Course, or play a match on one of our five lighted tennis courts. They are also offering “Foot Golf.” Played on the golf course this is fun for ANY age group. Restaurant on property.
Art & Wine: The Painted Cabernet: At The Collection Riverpark is perfect for both the artistic and the not so artistic (definitely my category). The instructor guides you step by step to recreate the daily featured painting while you sip a glass or two of wine, soda or juice. Good for all ages and genders. Great bonding activity. I actually enjoyed the heck out of this activity. Like drinking wine, your art is good if you like it.
Nature Walk: Something exciting is happening –especially for nature lovers. You can now hike the hill behind city hall and be part of a new development. An easy three mile walk (assuming you have the proper shoes, hat and attitude), have fun walking a winding path up a canyon that is part of the Ventura Botanical Gardens (dogs on leashes welcome). The long-range plan is to turn this somewhat bushy and scruffy open land into a botanical garden, with a visitors and nature education center at the top, all with a view of the ocean and the Channel Islands eight miles offshore. Experiencing it now is like watching a rock star being born.
Wine Time: Yup, there are wineries in Ventura County West. None better perhaps than Herzog Wine Cellars. In 1985, the Herzog family decided to expand their winemaking operations to California from New York. They make wine under two separate labels: Baron Herzog and Herzog Wine Cellars. After twenty years of renting space in various wineries, the family finally built its own state-of-the-art winery in Oxnard. Under the supervision of head winemaker Joe Hurliman, Herzog Wine Cellars has created a center for high-end contemporary winemaking in a tradition that dates back nearly six centuries. Beautiful tasting room and the amazing upscale Tierra Sur restaurant make this a complete destination on its own. Do both or miss something very special. Budget 2 hours for the complete experience. See the recipe for a yummy pasta dish at the end of this article.
Footgolf: Footgolf is a newer sport where players kick a soccer ball l into a cup in as few shots as possible using an existing golf course. This has a quick learning curve and is appropriate for all age levels. The best part is you get to ride around in a golf cart. Rules are golf like- but you can modify to fit your group. It felt more like kickball to me than golf. But I loved every minute out there. Best played with six or less people and a big ‘ol beer, cocktail or bottled water in hand. Take your time – be one with the surroundings and fun of it all. You can play it right next to your lodging at River Ridge Golf Course. VERY affordable. Play 9-18 holes. About a two hour investment.
Great Dinner Choice: Treat yourself to an unforgettable seafood dinner at Brophy Brothers at Ventura Harbor Village. This is a value-driven menu meaning it’s affordable and delicious. The menu is large, but focused. The harbor views are breathtaking. Expect crowds. Nice bar featuring one of the best Bloody Mary’s in Southern California. If you like clams, you’re going to be in clam nirvana. Casual atmosphere on some high end real estate. Professionally trained servers and fanatic owners guarantee this is money well spent.
Night Time Fun: Located in the beautiful Ventura Harbor complex, the Ventura Comedy Club features some of the best comedy shows touring the country. If you haven’t been to a comedy club in a while, you’re missing a fun night out. Every seat is good. Prices are affordable, even with a two drink minimum. Appropriate for adults. Lots of parking. The guys who run this club are serious about quality comedy. You can trust this will be a remarkable evening.
Breakfast Done Right: I judge a city by its breakfast offerings. If you can’t come up with a good breakfast joint – you’re not on my radar. Speaking of radar, a group that really knows how to eat well are the pilots and locals who have found their way to Waypoint Café at the Camarillo Airport. Built for casual weekend travelers (pilots), it’s also a great place for the rest of us. Sit inside or out on the patio. The Waypoint gives diners a front-row seat to view planes and helicopters coming and going, but it’s the food that is going to WOW you. Great service, affordable prices, funky digs, and generally a waiting line for breakfast or lunch. Be patient, it’s worth it. Bonus: The premium outlets are two minutes away. Just sayin’.
Vintage Aircraft: The Southern California Wing, one of the largest units in the CAF in membership, aircraft and capabilities, was formed in 1981 and can be found next door to the Wayside Café (see above). There are about 11 aircraft on display at any one time, most of them still participate in air shows throughout the Western states.
Aircraft are based in two large hangars and there are tons of other artifacts and displays to engage with. The wing’s Aviation Museum is unique with hundreds of artifacts of aviation history. Do yourself a favor, call ahead and ask for a docent lead tour. The docents are well trained, articulate, and passionate. This place is ever expanding, so you’ll never be bored, always moved. Small donation requested.
So there we have it – the new and yet ever evolving Ventura County West. A booming area that attracts surfers, bohemians, tourists and anyone else who seeks easy an easy breezy vacation with access to pure wholesome fresh air, unspoiled ocean beaches, hiking trails, a near year-round perfect climate, and a decidedly free spirit atmosphere. Charming communities can be found along California’s coastline, but few reflect California’s distinctively diverse, relaxed and friendly personality like Ventura County West.
Until you explore for yourself, enjoy this yummy pasta dish compliments of Herzog Wine Cellars.
Herzog Wine Cellars Veal Meatballs with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
Tierra Sur Restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars
Head Chef Gabe Garcia
Meatballs 2oz each
2lb Ground Veal
3 Tsp Ground Funnel Seed
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic – Minced
2 TBS Margarine- Chopped
Poached in ½ Bottle of Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc – Clarksburg
with equal amount Water
3 Sprigs Thyme
1 Qt Cherry Tomato
1 Tbs Minced Garlic
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 pinch Salt & Pepper
1 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Tsp Sugar
Toss Cherry Tomato with all ingredients above. Roast in convection oven @375 for 15 Minutes
Toss with your Favorite Linguini and Enjoy
Residence Inn Oxnard River Ridge: 2101 West Vineyard Ave. Oxnard
The Painted Cabernet: At The Collection Riverpark – 630 Collection Boulevard, Oxnard
Ventura Botanical Gardens: Behind City Hall
Herzog Wine Cellars : 3201 Camino Del Sol ,Oxnard
Footgolf: At River Ridge Golf Course, Vineyard Course, Oxnard
Brophy Brothers Restaurant: 1559 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura
Ventura Comedy Club: 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 205, Ventura
Waypoint Café: 325 Durley Ave, Camarillo (Camarillo Airport)
The Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force Museum: 455 Aviation Drive, Camarillo
Ventura County West Visitor Info