Underwood Somis Farm, Leo Carillo, Ventura Harbor, Ventura Pier (c) Allison Mei-Li

Imagine this: You’re prepping dinner in the kitchen when your phone buzzes with a text from your Uncle Joe. “Hey! We want to come visit in a couple weeks!” You break into a smile, imagining your uncle standing in your doorway with arms stretched wide, ready to crack one of his famous jokes.

But then you remember you’ll have to deep clean the guest room, figure out 5 days of meals, and plan a week’s worth of activities to entertain both him and your kids. Yikes.

While I can’t help with your guest room, I’ve got you covered on the activities. Below is a list of my favorite family-friendly places to take guests, separated by region. Have fun!  

Ventura beach strand
(c) Allison Mei-Li


  • Ventura Pier: A playground right on the beach?! Yes, please! When you’re finished playing, walk upstairs and order from Beach House Tacos and Madewest Brewery, then enjoy your lunch with a front row view of the ocean. Bring bikes/scooters for the kids and take a stroll down the strand.
  • Golf N’ Stuff Mini Golf: This place is such a blast! Putt putt through castles and pirate ships. There’s also an arcade, go-karts, and pedal boats. 
  • Ventura Harbor: The harbor is so picturesque with purple bougainvillea and mountain views in the distance. There are beachy shops to browse, bakeries and ice cream parlors, and even a build-your-own-chocolate bar shop (Top This Chocolate). You’ll find a restaurant option for any palate. The Greek has amazing food and live performances on weekends to keep everyone entertained! 
(c) Allison Mei-Li


  • Visit the tide pools at Leo Carillo: For a very special beach experience, take your guests to Leo Carillo at low tide. (Check here for tide forecasts). You’ll find all kinds of sea creatures between the rocks, and even a sea cave or two!
  • Dine at Neptune’s Net: Right across the street from Leo Carillo, this casual restaurant has fish and chips, ahi tuna salads, burgers, and more. Ordering at the cash register makes it easy to pay separately and the food comes quickly. The wooden picnic tables situated outside have an ocean view.
  • Paradise Cove: You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a remote tropical island when you take in the seaside bluffs, warm sand, and gauzy curtains billowing in the wind. Choose a table in the sand and sip out of a pineapple while the kids play. When finished dining, set up your beach chairs at the private beach, where you can continue to order tropical treats and drinks while basking in the sun. Parking varies, check details here.
Oxnard, Mandalay Beach
(c) Allison Mei-Li


  • Mandalay Beach: This is my favorite beach in the county. The succulent-studded dunes, soft sand, and expansive views! What’s not to love?
  • Bowlero at The Collection is a blast for all ages! Pricier and more elevated than your typical bowling alley, you can order food and drinks directly to your lane, visit the bar, or play an epic array of arcade games.
  • Rent a boat at Hopper Boat Rentals. Bring your own snacks and drinks, cruise the harbor and check out the houses. Depending on the time of year, you might catch some sea lions!
  • Concerts by the Sea: From July through September, visit the Channel Islands Harbor on Saturdays from 4-6 for family-friendly concerts on the large grassy area by the water. Pack a picnic but save room for a cone from the Mister Softee’s ice cream truck!
Camarillo Grove Park in Ventura County
(c) Allison Mei-Li


  • Camarillo Grove Park Hike: A very simple hike that takes you up for gorgeous views (pictured above). There are beautiful wildflowers in the Spring and early Summer. This hike is toddler-approved!
  • Waypoint cafe: Take your guests to brunch at this small-plane airport. The food is excellent and the kids love watching the planes take off and come in. Don’t let the line on weekends deter you; it moves quickly! 
  • Gerry Ranch : Pick your own blueberries straight off the vine!
  • Somis Underwood Farm: A small, quiet farm with a few goats, chickens, alpacas, and sheep. Open for pick-your-own depending on the season.
  • Harley’s Bowl: Affordable bowling alley with a small arcade. They have little ramps for tots to use and in the summer, kids bowl free.
  • Old Town: a quaint, walkable main street with cafés, restaurants, vintage shops, Channel Islands Art Center, Mister Softee’s, and farmer’s market on Saturdays.
Underwood Farms in Moorpark, Ventura County
(c) Allison Mei-Li


  • Underwood Farm: This is more like a theme park than a farm! Not only are there tons of animals to see, there are also rides, slides, shows, and play areas. If you’re so inclined, you can get up close and personal with goats, bunnies, and baby ducks. A tractor ride will take you through the fields where you can hop off to pick your own fruit or vegetables, or stay on and enjoy the views. Be prepared to spend some money here, as most rides and activities require extra fees. For a tiny farm with no entry-fee, check out the Somis Underwood Farm listed under Camarillo.
(c) Allison Mei-Li

Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village:

  • Stonehaus: A beautiful outdoor restaurant and vineyard. Let the kids run around while you try their delicious wines and food. There’s often live music on the weekends. 
Santa Barbara Sea Center
(c) Allison Mei-Li

Santa Barbara:

  • Sea Center: Located on the Santa Barbara pier, this place is such a hidden gem. Touch star fish and sharks! Pull up a pail of sea water and put it under the microscope. My toddler spent 30 minutes playing in their wet deck! 
  • Zoo: Grab a coffee, soda, or adult beverage on the way in and stroll through the cutest little zoo. You’ll find red pandas, otters, capybaras, giraffes, lions, and more. We love how easy the SB zoo is, not to mention how picturesque—you’ll take in a view of the ocean while watching lions lounge around! Don’t forget to feed the giraffes and ride the train! 
  • Shoreline Beach Cafe: Awesome food, awesome vibes! Choose a spot on the shaded deck or a table in the sand! Don’t forget to bring beach toys for the little ones so you can linger long after the last french fry.
  • Padaro Beach Grill (Carpinteria): The coolest restaurant for families. Order at the cash register and then choose a table in this hidden oasis. There’s a HUGE sand box for the kids in the center of this outdoor restaurant.

As you can see, it’s easy to please the whole family when it comes to activities in Ventura County. Pick from this list and then kick back, relax, and enjoy making memories!


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