Family Travel

Family Fun in Oxnard, CA

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The beach in Oxnard is pristine.

Visit Oxnard: Family-Friendly Things to Do, See and Eat

Looking for a relaxing beachside community that is void of crowds? Go a few hours up the coast from San Diego to Oxnard—it’s so awesome! I’ve been driving Highway 101 from San Diego to the Bay Area my whole life, having no idea there were pristine beaches, sand dunes, miles of bike and walking paths, fun parks, and farm stands just minutes off the freeway in Oxnard. Here are some of the fun things to do, see and eat during your family getaway.

Seals can be found lounging around the harbor.

Fun Stuff to DO in Oxnard with Kids

Take a History and Wildlife Kayak Tour through the calm, safe waters of Channel Islands Harbor. Mike Lamm of Channel Islands Kayak Center in Marine Emporium Landing guides families on a fun adventure they won’t forget.

Take a private Venetian gondola ride with Gondola Paradiso through the Harbor’s peaceful Seabridge Canals. Whether a romantic ride for two or a family cruise for six, Mark won’t steer you wrong. Reservations required.

Rent bikes or surreys from Wheel Fun Rentals and take the path along Hollywood Beach and Mandalay Beach, where you’ll find a huge playground at Mandalay Beach Park. A perfect place to picnic and spend the afternoon. Ride the opposite direction to Channel Islands Maritime Museum at the end of the marina. 

Play FootGolf at River Ridge Golf Course. If you haven’t tried footgolf yet, it’s a must for active families. Adults and kids alike will love this sport that combines soccer with golf. Such a fun way to spend a couple of hours!

Shop, dine and have a ball hanging out at The Collection at RiverPark, Oxnard’s “collection” of stores, restaurants, movie theaters and more. Located on the east side of Hwy. 101.

Be sure to visit the California Welcome Center, one of 17 official state visitor centers in California. This popular stop offers a wealth of great information for travelers and is rated the #1 thing to do in Oxnard by TripAdvisor! Located in The Collection at RiverPark. Open 7 days a week.

Cafés and restaurants are a plenty.

Where to EAT in Oxnard

Fresh & Fabulous Café
221 W 5th St., Oxnard
Stop for lunch at the family-owned Fresh & Fabulous Café, which features a selection of delicious and healthy gourmet sandwiches, panini and salads. We devoured the BAT (bacon, avocado, turkey) panini, panko-crusted zucchini spears, pear & walnut salad w/balsamic dressing (add avocado and grilled chicken!) and had fun tasting unique and refreshing flavors at the Tractor Organic Soda station. Kids menu also available.

Toppers Pizza Place
Oxnard, Camarillo and Ventura
Chances are, your family will want pizza at some point on your trip, so be sure to visit Toppers Pizza Place, an award-winning local favorite. Not only do they have awesome pizza, but a large salad bar with fresh ingredients. Some locations even deliver to nearby hotels. Toppers is a local chain to Ventura County—there are half a dozen locations in the area—visit the website to find the location nearest you. Toppers makes a great meal stop even if you’re just passing through town!

Sea Fresh
3550 South Harbor Blvd., Oxnard
Sea Fresh is a casual harborside eatery offering an expansive menu of fresh seafood dishes and sushi. Your only issue here will be choosing which yummy meal to try! Join the locals for Sea Fresh’s popular happy hour. We sat on the outdoor patio where we had fun watching (and listening to) sea lions during our meal.

Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut
2800 Harbor Blvd., Oxnard
Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut is a favorite with locals and offers indoor or outdoor casual dining right on the harbor. Breakfast favorites include blueberry pancakes, corn beef hash, breakfast burritos and blackened catfish. Also open for lunch.

Where to STAY in Oxnard

Residence Inn River Ridge
2101 W. Vineyard Ave., Oxnard
Residence Inn provides plenty of space to spread out for families, plus a kitchen to make your own meals. Get a penthouse suite for the added benefit of an upstairs loft and a comfortable livingroom with a pull-out sofa. Residence Inn River Ridge is located right next to the River Ridge Golf Course, which offers beautiful views, golf (of course) and footgolf, a super fun activity for all ages (see “Fun stuff to DO” above). This awesome property also offers free breakfast, plenty of free parking and outdoor pools and Jacuzzis—huge benefits for families.

Summer Events

Dallas Cowboys fans love visiting Oxnard to watch the Cowboys practice during Spring Training Camp every July–August. There are plenty of fun opportunities for youth, such as cheerleading and football camps. Visit the website for schedule and to learn about admission and parking (there’s a parking perk for people staying in Oxnard hotels).

The nearby Ventura County Fair takes place during the first couple weeks of August.

When Lisa Gipson isn’t editing San Diego Family Magazine, she loves to discover new places with her husband and teen daughters.

Looking for more fun in the area? Read “6 Fun Stops Along California’s Central Coast.”

Published June 2017