Oxnard, California Travel Guide (Where to Stay, Things to Do & More)

Oxnard, California Travel Guide

If you’re traveling to Oxnard, California then check out these must-read tips on where to eat, where to stay, and what to do!

During a recent search for places to stay near Santa Barbara, the town of Oxnard fell into our lap and the first thing I imagined (when I heard the name) was an over-populated residential area in Ventura County — but as it turns out, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The town of Oxnard lies on the coast of Southern California, just a few miles away from Channel Islands National Park — also known as “the Galápagos of North America.” Even holding the title of the 19th most populous city in California, Oxnard feels extremely spread out.

During the 70’s and 80’s, developers tried to build houses on every inch of this land, but thanks to a grassroots effort, much of this area was saved from cookie cutter homes with tiny yards. It is now California’s largest strawberry producer and the town hosts the California Strawberry Festival each summer.

We initially came to Oxnard because of its close proximity to the Channel Islands, but this agricultural town captured us with its charm and has quickly become one of our favorite Southern California travel destinations.


Oxnard, California Travel Guide


Where to Stay in Oxnard

We wanted to stay within walking distance to the Channel Islands Harbor since that’s where we planned to spend most of our time.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort is in an ideal location and it took us about fifteen minutes to walk to the harbor. It’s in a safe area too, so we didn’t feel uncomfortable walking late at night after a few glasses of wine.

This is the first resort I have ever heard of offering free happy hour drinks. The guy standing in line ahead of us told us to get two drinks per person to avoid a long wait the next time around. The bartender didn’t ask questions and we took our drinks to the hot tub, which we had all to ourselves.

The suites are huge, extremely clean and tastefully decorated. Our ocean view suite had a bedroom, living room and two bathrooms. These suites have plenty of space for at least four people and would be perfect for a couple with kids.

The breakfast buffet was more than we expected considering it’s included in the room price. They have hot food, pastries, coffee, tea and juice. We got in and got out quickly which is the ideal breakfast before a day of sightseeing. All in all, this resort is a great little getaway.

Read more: 15 Cheap Weekend Getaways in California to Visit Now


A Day Trip to the Channel Islands

Oxnard, California Travel Guide

Island Packers was the only company we could find who offered trips to the Channel Islands, so we booked a tour to Anacapa Island (the closest island to the mainland).

The boat ride to Anacapa took about an hour and we saw tons of dolphins along the way. They rode along the bow and side of the boat. The Island Packers crew were very informative about the wildlife in the area and they made sure to slow down so we could get some good photos and video footage.

A National Park volunteer was offering a guided tour once we arrived to Anacapa, so we tagged along to get some information and history about the island.

Since they don’t offer any services on Anacapa, it is advised to pack a lunch and plenty of water. Locals highly recommend visiting these islands in the spring, when the flowers are in full bloom. We traveled here in January and the first bit of color was just starting to show.

Oxnard, California Travel Guide

The boat picked us up at 3:30pm and we headed for the mainland. Little did we know, we were in for a surprise. You can read about our unexpected boat ride back at Our Once-In-A-Lifetime Whale Watching Experience in the Channel Islands.


Our Favorite Restaurant in Oxnard

Oxnard, California Travel Guide

The Hollywood Beach Wine Company is located in the harbor and this is where we spent our Saturday night.

We were blown away by the service at this restaurant. The staff, owner and sommelier made it feel like we were out to dinner with a group of friends. We were impressed with how the chef and owner are focused on buying their produce locally and it seems they are making an effort to contribute to the community.

There was a live band inside the restaurant, playing cover tunes. In addition to laid back seating indoors, they have outdoor tables with heaters and a gorgeous view of the harbor.

Our favorite dishes include; the Jalapeno Apricot Tort, Shrimp Swimming in English Cheddar and Chives with Biscuits, Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon and Banana Nut Bread Pudding for dessert.
Oxnard was the relaxing getaway that we desperately needed and we have every intention of returning soon. There is plenty more for us to discover!


Have you ever traveled to a place that ended up surprising you?



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  1. Green Global Travel says:

    When I saw “Oxnard” I thought it might be a place in Britain, looks a bit like it too.. Anyway, I’d never heard of it before reading this post, looks like it’s worth a visit. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I recently went to Oxnard, CA and stayed at the Embassy and it is so pretty and has a laid back feel, great vibe. We heard about their 1st annual Taco and Tequila festival and had to try it, it was so much fun. We spent most of our day on the beach and we had an absolutely wonderful weekend. Oxnard is a hidden gem. I will take advantage of the Anacapa Islands tour next time, looks amazing!

  3. suzyguese says:

    And Oxnard has a Strawberry Festival too?! Sign me up!

  4. Jim Shoez says:

    I never realized Oxnard had so much to offer! With a relatively quick drive from San Diego sounds like a great trip we will be putting on our planner this year for sure! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Rease Kirchner says:

    dolphins! That’s so awesome. Also that last photo is so cute.

  6. thetravelchica says:

    Looks like a great find.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I love when we learn about places so close to where we live. It just proves you can travel without going to another country (or even another state)!

  7. hikebiketravel says:

    I have the Catalina Islands in my sights for some time around Easter next year so great t know about Oxnard. I hadn’t appreciated you could do just a day trip either though I think I’d like to spend at least a night on the islands. Dinner sounds yummy,