Friday, May 29, 2020

Gem on the California coast: Oxnard offers beauty, boating, nature

The view from Channel Islands Hampton Inn is one of a lovely marina, offering spectacular sunsets. The hotel is open for business, minus restaurants.  There is still no food service, but coolers are allowed and there are restaurants nearby.


Delicious "small bites" include scallops,
empanadas and a tasty marinade as

Oxnard's beachside restaurants open again.

IF YOU DRIVE California's famous coast highway, you may have overlooked Oxnard, California.
Waiter Arthur serves up
 appetizers at Moqueca.
As our travel world slowly "opens up" and hotels and restaurants are returning to business,  we've discovered that nearby Oxnard is a safe bet.  If you, like the two of us, are sick and tired of incarceration, give Oxnard a look. Consider spending a few days, whether now or next time you're scurrying south to San Diego or north to Santa Barbara and beyond.
For in Oxnard, we discovered some of the best whale watching we've experienced in our state. It's a town and yet a city, with amenities associated with much larger towns. We found a delightful Brazilian restaurant, a wonderful small art museum and a world class maritime museum.
Oxnard's busy Channel Islands Harbor is the fifth largest small-craft
harbor in California. Fishermen never stopped fishing during Covid.
The lovely seaside hotel, Hampton Inn Channel Islands
Harbor, of the highly rated Hilton brand, offers lovely
sunsets, pleasant views of sea life and friendly service. 
THIS QUIET little seaside city west of Los Angeles,  offers as its main draw the lovely Channel Islands Harbor, a combined shore-protection project and harbor. It sits in picturesque calm  at the southern end of the Santa Barbara Channel and is the state's fifth largest small-craft harbor. We observed it is a well loved waterfront, with fishermen at work, retirees out walking, kids playing, families barbecuing and baskers sunbathing. Dining options are varied. Our favorite restaurant is Moqueca, serving delightful Brazilian fare.
OXNARD ALSO offers great fish and chips dining, fun burger shops, Italian and Greek fare and more. A pleasing mix of contemporary architecture and elegant early 1900s homes line the boulevards, with artful clusters of interesting contemporary art, beautiful sandy shorelines, nicely kept yards and lawns and stunning views of the Channel Islands.
We wondered why Oxnard is often overlooked, and is indeed one of the less visited areas of the popular California coast.
Probably because it is a bit "out of the way." West of Los Angeles, it's ideally located on the coast but most people heading south hit the freeway once out of LA's 10 and 12-lane traffic madness. Perhaps the name is off-putting, for its somewhat harsh sound. Oxnard's founder, Henry T. Oxnard, tried to name the city after a Greek word for “sugar” (zachari). Unable to communicate his desire to state bureaucrats, he named the city after his family instead. 
The Carnegie Library in Oxnard, Calif.,
is temporarily closed, but worth a look,
in the heart of Oxnard's "Old Town."
HE WOULD likely enjoy the city's charming downtown with historic buildings including the Carnegie Art Museum. The elegant 1906 building withstood the threat of permanent closure and budget cuts for years, continuing to show contemporary California art in a stately former library. It's temporarily closed now, a casualty of Covid, but supporters hope it will rally. Nearby, other early 1900s buildings and homes dot Heritage Square and are worth a stroll for photos, in these virus-changing times. On the water, contemporary homes share lovely beach views. Oxnard Beach Park has a wide, sandy shoreline and inviting, grassy lawns, with picnic tables and views of Channel Islands.
A Purse Seine boat anchored off the Oxnard harbor.
Modern architecture is part of the
mix in Oxnard, where new buildings
are going up along the waterways. 
Channel Islands cruises and whale watching are available for
to enjoy a variety of options, from overnight camping
to whale watching. 
Island Packers Cruises has several itineraries. 
  One sunbather asked us not to write too enthusiastically about Oxnard. "We know we're a vibrant Southern California beach haven, with perfect sands and waters, but we don't really want any more people," she winked.  It's true: the beaches are some of the prettiest in the region and the closeness to the Channel Islands makes for longer whale-watching periods.
SHOPPERS COME to buy everything from clothing to art, antiques and furniture and there's a playhouse, a couple nightclubs and an array of restaurants. Many of the businesses, parks and beaches have reopened. Food delivery and take-out are widely available.
Still, that lovely proximity to the water and the Channel Islands is the main draw. Plus the feel of a small town with amenities of city life. These enticements bring repeat customers back to this calming corner of California. Now more than ever.;

  Enjoying playful whales and dolphins in a light misty rain,
Keller and Cookie continue their road-tripping with caution. 
UP NEXT: We've got a whale tale, and some nifty whale tail photos to share with you, lads and lassies. We're off to Anacapa in search of beautiful gray whales, heading north now after giving birth in the warm Baja waters. With terrific guides and naturalists from Island Packers and Channel Island Sportfishing, and both businesses back up and running after Covid slowed things down, we're accompanied by playful dolphins and seals while enjoying a pair of Oxnard's finest whale watching enterprises. These unique enterprises are restarting fishing, whale watching and island service as early as June 1, taking reservations now. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh spin on nature, the arts, travel, family and adventure:


  1. Mendocino MavericksMay 30, 2020 at 9:47 AM

    Encouraging to see smart openings, with fine hygiene, such as Hampton, a Hilton affiliate, is doing. We've missed travel so have Oxnard on our wish list. THANKS~!!

  2. Very excited that things are slowly opening up. This looks lovely.

  3. California DreamersJune 4, 2020 at 10:23 AM

    Fun, hopeful piece. We are slowly returning to normal here in Santa Barbara.

  4. Los Angeles SailorsMarch 29, 2021 at 11:26 AM

    We love the Channel Islands Inn, very sweet little hotel. Great to see this piece and know that you love Oxnard, too. Pretty photos!

  5. Palisades Ocean LoversMarch 29, 2021 at 11:27 AM

    Good piece on a quiet little town we've long if we can keep it that way!