Ventura County’s charming seaside city of Oxnard is set directly on the California coastline between Ventura and Malibu and is a fantastic stop off Metrolink’s Ventura County line. This hidden gem of a destination hosts seven miles of pristine beaches, stunning mountain backdrops, easy access to the Channel Islands National Park, and a wide range of food and beverage choices.
With 276 sunny days a year, miles of beach, 100-plus restaurants, two breweries, four wineries, and a plethora of outdoor recreational activities — there’s no shortage of entertainment and adventure to enjoy for travelers of any age, with a visit to Oxnard.
Geographically, the city is located just 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 38 miles south of Santa Barbara just past Malibu where Highway 1 and 101 join, beyond Point Mugu and the Santa Monica Mountains — a short day trip or weekend escape in Southern California.
Metrolink connected with Oxnard’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Brittney Hendricks, on the history of the city and for insider details on how to spend a weekday or weekend getaway exploring Oxnard.
Beaches and Harbors and Islands, Oh My
“We have three primary tourism areas of town that we promote; there are the beaches and the harbor, the downtown area, and “The Collection at RiverPark,” which is a lifestyle outdoor shopping center with a movie theater, a comedy club, a rock pub and lots of shopping and dining,” said Hendricks. “We’re also the gateway to the Channel Islands, just ten miles off the coast.”
Hendricks shared details on Oxnard’s diverse demographics.
“We are a diverse community with rich cultural traditions – I especially enjoy Oxnard Multicultural Festival where we see our melting pot of a community shine a light on their heritage,” she said. A large demographic in our city is Hispanic, and we have this incredible Inlakech cultural arts group that provides education in music, dance, drama and art. Their ballet folklórico and mariachi performers can be seen at various venues in Oxnard throughout the year. We have a lot of authentic Mexican food in our city – there is even a ‘taco trail’ that we put together with resident input.”
The city of Oxnard is 39.1 square miles/101.3 kilometers square with a population of 208,881 (2019) and is the largest and most populous city in Ventura County, but still maintains its appeal as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles County to the south.
“It has a very low-key, coastal California small-town vibe for the largest city in our county – our city has approved the zoning for multi-story mixed-use buildings in the Oxnard Boulevard and Downtown Oxnard corridors to encourage walkable new urbanism projects to help infill underutilized space – so we’re expecting to experience some growth in the city center and offer more of an urban, metropolitan vibe within the coming years,” said Hendricks.
Oxnard is even home to the only all-suite beachfront hotel in Southern California, Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort. “It’s really a hidden gem,” said Hendricks. “We’re right past Malibu on the coast, and we have this community that has chosen to reside in Oxnard over Los Angeles to the south because it’s a beautiful [less crowded] place.”
“People from Oxnard are proud to be from Oxnard, and proud of their community.”
Hometown Hidden Gems
Oxnard is a jewel of a discovery when it comes to hidden California beachside destinations, especially as it’s easily accessible via train — which means that travelers won’t have to worry about parking or traffic on their journey to the city. And the Oxnard Metrolink station is located in a prime area, walkable distance to a range of entertainment options.
“Metrolink drops off at our Oxnard Transit Center which is in the heart of Downtown Oxnard. You can literally get off the train and walk to our downtown center,” said Hendricks. Visitors to Oxnard may be surprised by all the places to see and things to do that have previously been under-the-radar to many Southern Californians.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy in Oxnard, from Silver Strand Beach in the south, to Kiddie Beach Park and Hobie Beach along the Channel Islands Harbor inlet, to historic Hollywood Beach, Oxnard Beach and Mandalay Beach in the north.
The expansive outdoor space makes Oxnard Beach Park an excellent choice for families to explore. This safe, wide stretch of sand offers fabulous views of the Channel Islands from its shore. Here, visitors will also find a grassy park area outfitted with picnic tables, barbecues, walking paths, and a pirate-themed playground for children to play.
Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor is another standout destination of Oxnard to spend a day for visitors of any age, in addition to serving as a gateway to the Channel Islands National Park. Visitors to the harbor can enjoy the freshest catch of the day — in addition to a variety of other types of cuisines. Plus, every Sunday there’s Farmers Market hosted year-round from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with fresh baked breads and locally sourced produce. On the harbor there are a range of recreational activities from jet skiing to kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, electric boat rentals, and parasailing.
For those who’d prefer to stay inside and learn about maritime history, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum offers an extensive educational collection encompassing five centuries of art, ship models and other sea artifacts.
For a couple’s romantic escape or a girls’ weekend getaway, Oxnard can also be a fun wine tasting destination. This city is home to four distinctive wineries and tasting rooms, including Herzog Wine Cellars, which is the nation’s largest producer of kosher wines. There’s also Rancho Ventavo Cellars which is situated in The Scarlett House, in the iconic Heritage Square. This group of historic homes is a peaceful location for a wine tasting session while soaking up the California sunshine.
For auto-enthusiasts, Oxnard is home to two impressive car museums. The Murphy Automotive Museum features an extensive display of more than 50 antique cars from early classics to street rods and Packards. There’s also the Mullin Auto Museum which is home to some of the finest historic French automobiles including Bugatti’s and Voisin’s, as well as a collection of decorative art from the 1920s and 1930s.
Hendricks emphasized the importance of automobile appreciation that’s embedded within Oxnard’s culture. “We have a lot of car clubs – one of our car museums is home to the most valuable car in the world… there are hundreds of cars inside with considerable historical value, including winners of historic races like Le Mans.”
After a day of exploring the city, visitors can return to Downtown Oxnard which hosts more than 40 different restaurants serving a variety of foods of all flavors. From Italian food to Thai, Mexican, Mediterranean, Brazilian and kosher cuisines, there’s no shortage of new tastes to try.
Small-town Community Feeling, Big City Sense of Adventure
Hendricks said the Oxnard community offers a welcoming, small-town vibe, and has remained strong throughout this past year — supporting their local businesses and rallying around locals who needed extra support this past year.
“We ran a really excellent ‘restaurant month’ promotion months ago, and experienced generous participation from the community,” she recalled. “People from Oxnard are proud to be from Oxnard, and proud of their community.”
This Metrolink-accessible destination hosts everything a visitor would need to enjoy a relaxing vacation or an adventurous getaway, all reachable via train.
Oxnard is a member of the Ventura County Lodging Association, and has partnered with Metrolink’s SoCal Explorer Loyalty Program which offers members discounts on food, drink, lodging and activities across Southern Cailfornia. Become a SoCal Explorer today, at socalexplorer.metrolinktrains.com.