California is one of those states that truly needs no introduction. People from all around the world come to visit the top California cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Oxnard, on the other hand, is a hidden gem. You might be surprised to learn there are a ton of fun, family friendly activities to do in Oxnard! We recently gathered with family for an extended weekend to enjoy an incredible beach vacation.
7 Fun Things to do in Oxnard, California with Kids
How to Get to Oxnard
Oxnard is located 50 minutes west from Burbank Airport (BUR) and 60 minutes south of Santa Barbara Airport (SBA). However, most visitors fly into Los Angeles Airport (LAX) which is about 75 minutes northwest. You can easily rent a car through Alamo Rent A Car conveniently located at all three of these airports.
Where to Stay in Oxnard
Oxnard offers a wide variety of accommodations including hotels, vacation rentals, motor lodges, RV Parks and campsites. Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel is a great option for those looking for a hotel located on the beach. Vacation rentals are also abundant and can be booked on sites like VRBO.
Things to do in Oxnard with Kids
1. Explore Oxnard's Various Beaches
First, Mandalay Beach, located on N. Harbor Blvd., has tons of wetlands, scrub plants, sand dunes and so much more. It is a beach that is meant to be a bit rugged, perfect for the explorers in all of us. Unlike many other popular Oxnard beaches, Mandalay does not have any beach facilities. It is ideal for those who are looking for an escape, picnicking or bird watching with the little ones. It’s also the perfect spot for a sunset stroll.
For those seeking out a more typical beach experience, we highly recommend Oxnard State Beach. Here you can find plenty of space for sunbathing and sandcastle-building, there are great waves for boogie boarding and surfing, volleyball nets, picnic tables, and a wide path perfect for a stroll or bike ride. Plus, you can follow the beach .9 miles to the Oxnard State Beach Park, where you can find grassy lawns for picnics and wonderful little playgrounds for your children!
If you are looking for the best beach to catch a wave, visit Silver Strand Beach. This beach is a favorite of the locals who enjoy sunbathing, kayaking, fishing, beachcombing, and of course, surfing. While you can surf year-round, you will find the best waves from summer through winter. In our experience the water temperature has been on the chilly side, even during the summer months, so we highly recommend bringing your wetsuit.
2. Visit the City's Museums
Whether you and your family are car buffs or not, the Mullin Automotive Museum offers a fun way to explore automotive art from the past and present. The vehicles in this museum are mostly classic cars from the earlier half of the twentieth century and you can see them in both static and revolving exhibits. At the Carnegie Art Museum, you will find some of the most gorgeous artwork to come out of California. There is a wide range of pieces by extremely talented local artists, as well as a few permanent collections. The beauty of this museum is that you can find something here for every artistic taste. From contemporary art pieces to sculptures to photography, the Carnegie Art Museum is a diverse, indoor activity for all.
3. Take a Gondola Ride
Did you know you can have a Venetian Experience in California? One of the best ways to explore the outskirts of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard is by gondola. You can book this 50 minute experience through Gondola Paradiso every day from 11a.m. to 9 p.m.. The best part is you won’t be one in a hundred gondolas floating through the canals. The channels are much wider, and the gondola rides are less popular which makes the whole experience more special.
4. Indulge in the Food Scene
I was excited to discover the vibrant and diverse restaurants in the area. Thanks to Oxnard’s multicultural influences you can find top-notch Thai cuisine at Thai Quality Restaurant, delicious Mexican food at Sabor and you won’t want to miss The Masala Twist which serves amazing Indian food.
In downtown Oxnard alone there are more than 40 eateries for you to explore including everything from cozy cafes and taquerias to full-service restaurants. Those looking for a waterfront experience can head to the Channel Islands Harbor. Our recommendation is Waterside. I highly recommend their daily seafood specials and my husband’s favorite is their outstanding lamb burger.
5. Keep it Fresh at the Farms and Market
Spend a relaxing morning strolling a farmer's market and purchasing heaps of fresh fruits and veggies. The Oxnard Farmers Market happens every Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard and features some of the best local food vendors. It is a great place to walk around, people watch and enjoy some tasty treats.
The McGrath Family Farm is owned by an Irish-American family that has been farming on the California Coast for five generations. This utopian garden farm is sustainable and grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. The farm tours are a great way to educate your family on the importance of agriculture and environmental preservation. Plus, you can pick your own certified organic produce!
Finally, Underwood Family Farms has different sections open all year and is the perfect place for your family to learn more about the diverse farming community in Oxnard. From educational tours to fruit and vegetable picking, there are tons of different outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy.
Public boat transportation through Island Packers Cruises is available from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard to Channel Islands National Park. You will want to be sure to apply sunscreen and pack a pair of binoculars, you might just see some sea lions along the way! Once you arrive there is plenty to explore including snorkeling, hiking and whale watching.
The Ventura River Trail runs along what used to be the Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad. With a strange industrial feel, you can get an idea of the businesses of both past and present, each of which helped to fuel the city’s growth. Both the walking and bike lanes run 17-miles along a gorgeous path which is great for families looking to get outdoors.
As you can see there are plenty of options when it comes to family-friendly activities in Oxnard guaranteeing a fun time for every member of your family.