Family Vacations in Southern California Without the Crowds

If you live in Southern California, you know that summer brings crowds – visitors from all over the country and around the world. That means it’s hard to go anywhere without running into crowds and traffic, two main ingredients that make kids (and parents) cranky.

One place that seems to have held on to its laid-back California charm and has plenty of fun for kids is Ventura, particularly the three towns known as VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura). Located on Highway 101 north of Los Angeles, western Ventura County boasts uncrowded beaches (with free parking), ocean adventures, and plenty of kid-friendly summer activities that are easy to get to. Here are some to see.

Channel Islands National Park

Take a tour boat to the Channel Islands National Park from the ports of Ventura or the Channel Islands (Oxnard). The islands are just 11 miles off the coast of Ventura County. Along the way, you can see dolphins, seals, pelicans, and other wildlife. Hikes, overnight stays, kayaking are available once you get to shore. Tours are booked through Island Packers,

Ventura Harbor Town

Ventura Harbor Village contains an arcade featuring an indoor vintage carousel, an arcade, and a candy store with over 20 varieties of fudge (made fresh daily). Families can rent rowboats and electric boats to cruise the tranquil harbor canals. Back on shore, plan to eat at one of the port’s casual restaurants offering fresh seafood.

Ventura County Fairgrounds Race Track

Midget racing cars, motorcycles and all manner of vehicles take to the track almost every weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura. It’s all so much fun while cheering on your favorite driver.

Seagull Wings Children’s Museum

This children’s museum in Oxnard is very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, those eight and under will have so much to do and see, they won’t know where to start. They can dress up as firefighters, doctors, or pretend they are astronauts landing on the moon in an Apollo spacecraft. There are snakes to hold, treasures to find on a geological dig, and plenty of Legos to build whatever your heart desires. Kids can try their hand at rock climbing or let their imaginations run wild while in the driver’s seat of a real car.

soaring sports

You won’t find a big billboard advertising Sky High Sports Camarillo from the freeway. It’s in an industrial park, it has to be, the place is huge. It is full of trampolines with super cushioned floors and walls. Kids can play dodge ball trampoline and other organized games or…just jump around. All under supervision. Sky High also has laser tag. The kids are sure to come out sweaty and tired, a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

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