It’s a place where Rudolph Valentino filmed and Clark Gable played. It’s where ocean breezes meet bountiful crops of fruits and vegetables. And it’s a city where the classic embodiment of carefree California beach lifestyle is still fully realized.
Once called the “Land of Everlasting Summers” by Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, the city got its name from the Oxnard Brothers who built a sugar beet factory in 1898. Now, over 100 years later, strawberries have taken root in the area with the city producing more than 20 percent of the state’s crop. Each year, the delicious berry that wears its seeds on the outside, is proudly celebrated at the California Strawberry Festival held the third weekend of May.
At Fisherman’s Wharf, visitors won’t want to miss the Ventura County Maritime Museum, which chronicles the saga of ships and the sea. Admission is free. Every Sunday, Channel Islands Harbor boasts a Farmer’s Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. along the water’s edge. Oxnard’s fresh produce from the outlining fields, in addition to arts & crafts and baked goods, can be found there.
Downtown Oxnard is home to Heritage Square where turn-of-the-century farmhouses are restored or replicated and available for viewing. Tours are provided every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Friday evenings during the summer, Heritage Square becomes a venue for nighttime concerts featuring everything from jazz to Latin rhythms.
In nearby Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard, there’s another popular Farmer’s Market where visitors can select from the area’s freshest local produce. The market is open every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.
Also located downtown is the historic Carnegie Art Museum built in 1906. The museum, which completed a renovation in 2003, offers changing exhibits featuring local and international artists. Other art venues include Plaza Art Gallery & Café located on A Street and Studio Channel Islands Art Center West, open on “C” Street.
Nearby Port Hueneme has a long association with the U.S. Navy, and some of that history is chronicled in the Civil Engineer Corps and Seabee Museum, located in the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Established in 1947, the museum features weapons, military uniforms, insignia, models, and other artifacts related to the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps starting in the 19th century to present. The museum is open to the public, however access is restricted with new Base security measures in place. Visitors are advised to call ahead if planning a trip to the Museum to obtain current access requirements. Admission and parking are free.
One of the area’s main attractions located in Oxnard’s backyard is the Channel Islands National Park. Island Packers, Ventura County’s official concessionaire, offers a charter service to Anacapa Island from Channel Islands Harbor all year long.
Other islands include Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San Miguel which are virtually unsullied by development and are wonderful to explore. Sealife is abundant on the Channel Islands and the tidepools make for great exploration. Nature hikes accompanied by dramatic views of the surrounding vistas help to complete the experience.
Starting the day after Christmas and continuing through March, visitors can keep a watchful eye out for the Pacific Gray Whales as they migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel. Daily whale watching excursions are available from Oxnard via Island Packers and Channel Islands Sportfishing Center.
To receive visitor information, call the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-2-OXNARD