Local Ventura

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Night Life

Check out Ventura’s thriving nightlife and live music scene. If you’re looking for fun, dancing, and great live music, you’ve come to the right place. A wide-ranging music scene where the credo is “almost never a cover charge” offers a wide array of music, from rock to blues to jazz to country to unsung heroes to major music stars. Plus a wide range of locally owned and locally innovative restaurants and, yep, that favorite of affordable times, Happy Hour.

Makin’ the move
Randy Parsons moved his 20-year-old business, Parsons Guitars, from Seattle to Ventura in early 2014. He looked for a better climate for his custom guitar-making—“the humidity and consistency are perfect,” he says—and of equal importance, a place with a thriving arts climate, as well.

He set up shop above The Majestic, Ventura’s most historic live music venue, to build guitars and to teach others to do the same. He’d looked all up and down the coast—a scouting road trip—and found the town of Ventura bustling with energy and creativity, and leaders who saw the value in both.

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Art

The first place to look is where the artists live. On the First Friday of the month, the residents of grassroots artist’s space Bell Arts Factory open their doors to the public. No more intimate forum to peruse new pieces and see where (and how) the artists work. Everything from ceramicists, to painters, to draftsmen, to writers make their studios in this massive space, and exploring it is an adventure in itself. No better opportunity to purchase new work and talk to local artists directly.

Looking for more great local art? Head down the street to Art City Studios, a sanctuary for local sculptors, or over to the Working Artists of Ventura (the WAV), an artist living and working space that also opens its doors to the community. 

Music

If music is more your love, be sure to check out what’s playing at famed local venue Majestic Ventura Theatre (yes, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury talked about who-can-imagine backstage here).

 

Summer is an amazing time for music in Ventura, with the Ventura Music Festival,  Music Under the Stars, and the Tequila & Taco Music Festival offering all manner of talent; and often just plain danceable fun. Ventura is also home to an incredible music scene; supremely talented musicians playing everywhere and often — and rarely is there a cover charge. No better source for local music happenings than Ventura Rocks!

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Interested in theater? Ventura is home to the award-winning Rubicon Theatre, but award-winning is an overused charm. Here’s what you need to know about the Rubicon.

It’s a professional theatre company in a cozy (read every seat is close to the stage) playhouse that has featured the likes of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Jack Lemmon, and Davis Gaines (the longest-running Phantom). Located in a gorgeous historic brick building, the Rubicon is an easy walk from Downtown Ventura.

For a more casual theatre experience,  The Ventura Improv Company features fun, family-friendly showings right in the heart of Downtown.
History

If Ventura’s soul could be given adobe structure, it would take the form of the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura. Founded in 1782 — the ninth Spanish mission established in California and the last to be established by Father Junipero Serra — the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura began as the literal and figurative center of the community; at its peak, in 1816, over 1300 people lived within its walls. The city grew around it. But the mission remained, like a quiet heartbeat. It was, and is, known as the Mission by the Sea, a lovely name both simple and apt.


While the Mission in Downtown, including an adjoining church with original architecture (and a lovely serene garden), is a mainstay of the visitor experience, the Dudley House 
 

The Dudley House: Built in 1892 by B.W. Dudley, the Dudley House depicts a Ventura County farmhouse and the lives of the Dudley family from 1892 to 1930. One of the few authentically restored Victorian houses in Ventura County open to the public.

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