The small seaside city of Oxnard California is probably the most charming town I’ve ever visited. National Parks. Vineyards. Cliffs nestled beside crashing waves. Scenic marina views. Dolphins. Sea lions. Foxes, for some reason? Fresh seafood. It kinda sounds like I’m describing a bunch of different locations, doesn’t it? Nope, I’m describing one small destination in Southern California, located just an hour north of Los Angeles, Oxnard Beach. It’s the PERFECT weekend getaway from Los Angeles! When Visit Oxnard invited us to visit we knew we had to take them up on the invitation.
Think sandy beaches, an adorable historic city center, and incredible tacos, Oxnard Beach is one of those adorable little Southern California towns that often gets overlooked by tourists en route to more popular Southern California travel destinations, but don’t sleep on Oxnard because it’s the perfect location for a sweet and savory romantic weekend getaway.
Getting to Oxnard
If you’re flying the closest airport to Oxnard is Santa Barbara Municipal Airport but the cheapest airport is most likely Los Angeles International Airport. From Oxnard to Los Angeles is about an hour drive. You’ll definitely want to rent a car so you can get around town easily but Uber is also an option. There is very little public transportation in the area outside of Uber/Lyft so you’ll want to plan your itinerary according to your transportation needs. I’d highly recommend renting a car.
Where to Stay in Oxnard
We had the chance to check out two different Oxnard hotels and really enjoyed both for different reasons. They were in opposite parts of town so deciding what activities you are most interested before picking a hotel might be helpful. The city is no overwhelmingly large but less time in the car is always a good thing in my opinion.
Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor is as the name might give away, right on the harbor. The rooms have beautiful balconies overlooking the water and boats. We spent an entire evening sipping hot tea and taking in the sunset out there. The staff of the hotel was very friendly and the rooms were super comfortable. The location was perfect for getting to all of our water-based activities. They also have a really nice continental breakfast and an always available pot of coffee in the lobby.
The Residence Inn by Marriott Oxnard is located right on the course of the River Ridge Golf Club. It is a little bit closer to the downtown Oxnard activities The rooms were really big with lots of closet space, a living room, and even a small kitchen. While they do have a continental breakfast we enjoy having the option to make ourselves some breakfast. The layout feels like an apartment complex with pools and hot tubs scattered throughout the property. We enjoyed a nightly dip in the hot tubs before bed.
Three Days in Oxnard California
Start your morning with breakfast at Palm & Boy Coffee + Acai. As we drove into the city we passed a handful of roadside stands selling fresh fruit, specifically strawberries. We knew buying some of those berries was high on the priority list. So a stop at Palm and Boy was a complete no brainer. Not only is it adorable but it is also remarkably healthy. It’s a super chill counter style spot with outdoor seating right by the water. They even have brightly colored blankets on hand just in case you stop by on a chilly morning like us. We shared the Stoke acai bowl and the yogurt bowl both were super fresh and loaded with fruit. The cold brew is also spot on!
Honestly, is there anything better than a great beach day? Linds had never been to the beach in California so she was dying to take what she thought was her first dip in the Pacific (it was actually in the Philippines). So we headed to the beach for a couple of hours. Even on a windy and cool day, we enjoyed a beautiful walk and some time relaxing on a blanket. Our favorite part about the beaches in Oxnard is the wide variety of activities available. Surfing, kayaking, collecting shells or even riding bikes you can have a super active beach day.
Linds loves a good adrenaline rush but more than that we love trying new things together. Parasailing is something we’ve both done individually but had yet to do it together. So it was exciting to finally have to chance to soar above the ocean side by side. I can’t recommend meeting up with the pros at Channel Island Parasail enough. They kept the music and atmosphere on the boat fun and energetic as we cruised out to sea. After a brief set of instructions, we were clipped in and soaring 1,000 feet above the water. The day we went out was a bit overcast but the way the sun was peeking through the clouds made for a really magical soft light. I can’t even imagine how stunning a sunset would with clear skies. On the way back to the harbor we even got to watch some sea lions battling it out for some dock space. I had no clue how massive these guys were!
After working up the nerves and excitement parasailing a big meal is going to be a must. Just a few steps from where you’ll get off the boat you can find the Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar. There is a beautiful outdoor seating area making it a great place to take in the last of the days sunlight. It is a really good place for a date night with romantic vibes. We enjoyed a shared appetizer of toasted pita bread and tzatziki followed by main dishes of Oven Roasted Salmon and Braised Short Ribs. The real winner of the meal was the incredibly rich Clam Chowder.
Start your morning with breakfast at Honey Cup Coffee and Kitchen. With a full day of activity scheduled a solid breakfast was clutch. Honey Cup not only has incredible lattes they also had healthy breakfast options. Linds has a deep hatred for all things egg related so breakfast can be hit or miss. Luckily the fresh berries, greek yogurt of the waffle bowl were a huge hit. I had the avocado toast but with truffle oil which elevates it in a whole new way. The coffee shop itself was cute and exactly the placed we’d enjoy working from on a longer stay.
Our favorite part of our Oxnard adventures was the time we spent exploring Channel Islands National Park with Island Packers. I was a bit nervous at first because when we boarded the boat for our 90-minute ocean crossing we saw many of the passengers carrying firewood, tents, and sleeping bags. We were relieved when we realized our expedition wouldn’t require any survival gear and that they were on a different tour group on the same crossing. Turns out you can hang out on Santa Cruise Island for the day, or you can rent a campsite and experience the island overnight. Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands and is open year round for hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and camping. We heard from our fellow boat trippers that the snorkeling is so beautiful, it’s like swimming in an aquarium. We didn’t swim but we still saw an incredible amount of wildlife. From the barking sea lions spotted the rocky beach when we docked to the dolphins frolicking in the wake of the boat to the adorable foxes darting around the trails.
After a full day of hiking, we were equal parts hungry and exhausted. We’d been told that grabbing a pie from Toppers Pizza was a must and this seemed like the perfect night to do so. When we walked in we noticed the large windows overlooking the harbor, settling down near them seemed like a no brainer. The restaurant is casual, serving up made to order pizzas. Linds opted for the Buffalo Chicken and I did a custom Hawaiian because pineapple DOES belong on pizza. We have completely different taste pallets so not having to compromise on toppings was fun. I also highly recommend adding the salad bar. We did see tons of Toppers Pizza Delivery guys all over the city and can now confirm its popular for a reason.
Take in an Oxnard sunset. Luckily the hotel was less than a minute drive from Toppers. So we grabbed a cup of coffee in the lobby, look blankets to the balcony and soaked in the last rays of the day. Watching the brilliantly colored sunset over the tops of the boats in the marina is exactly how I’ll remember Oxnard.
We’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more physical activity into our travels. We’ll probably never be those people that get up early for a gym session but finding ways to get more active throughout the day has been a goal. A morning SUP yoga class with Sea Dog Yoga was the perfect fit. We honestly had no idea what to expect from the experience. We’ve spent very little time on paddleboards and Linds has the flexibility of a 2×4 so not much time in yoga. Apparently, the boards used for SUP yoga are more stable than average boards making it a lot easier for beginners than we assumed. We also got to take about a 20-minute paddle before starting the yoga. It was a really neat experience to do something so totally out of our comfort zones.
Pick up a latte at the charming Heritage Coffee and Gifts before wandering Heritage Square in Historic Downtown Oxnard. Heritage Square is made up of stunning Victorian houses with impeccably manicured gardens. There is a free walking tour offered daily but we navigated the square block on our own. It was nice to go at our own pace and there were plenty of placards with information available. You can also find La Dolce Vita in the square, it’s a to die for an Italian restaurant serving up the most delicious arancini. If you have time I highly recommend it for dinner followed by drinks at the adjacent Speakeasy 1901.
After yoga and the self-guided walking tour of Heritage square, we’d worked up quite the appetite. We opted for Lunch at Cabo Seafood Grill and Cantina in part because it’s won the Oxnard Salsa Festival for 13 years in a row. The tortillas are freshly made and yes, the winning red salsa is delicious. It’s a very chill lunch serving up super flavorful food. I’d been craving fajitas and these hit the spot for sure. A short distance from the restaurant you’ll see the Oxnard Teatro. While the Teatro is currently closed it once showed Spanish films before transitioning into a music studio where the likes of Bob Dylan and U2 recorded. The exterior is also just really cool looking.
Date Night! Before we do anything important Linds always wants a haircut so we scheduled one before going to dinner and a show. The Barbershop is one of those places that feels effortlessly cool. The floor was completely covered in pennies and each vintage barber chair came with a story. Linds loved the fade she got from Jackie and even joked she was going to start flying to Oxnard for haircuts.
Our next stop was located directly across the street at Annex Food Hall. This upscale food hall has incredibly diverse options to choose from. No matter what you’re in the mood for you can probably find it here. All of the shops are small locally owned businesses serving up unique bold flavors. I love food hall style dining because you can easily have a little bit of a lot of things.
Our table looked something like this:
Meg: Ragamuffin Cold Brew with cream
PokeCiviche bowl with rice, shrimp and tortilla flakes
Linds: Lychee bubble tea from Love Pho
Chicken and Waffle fries from Seoul Sausage
After dinner, we headed Copper Blues Rock Pub and Kitchen to listen to some live music. It was some of the best live music we have ever heard at a restaurant. Without noticing we’d sipped down a few cocktails much later into the night than anticipated.
California is a huge state packed with options. Want to learn more about LGBT friendly options in California? Check out some of our other posts for your travel plans:
- 3 LGBT Friendly Stops on Your California Road Trip
- 3 Day Getaway Itinerary for Torrance California
- Lesbian Travel Guide to Los Angeles
Thank you to Visit Oxnard for sponsoring our stay. As always all opinions and text are my own