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Saturday, Oct 27 2012 12:33 AM

Trip Planner: Ventura Harbor

By Lois Henry

In all my little adventures to the coast, I’ve spent hardly any time at all in Ventura.

After a recent stay there at the Four Points Sheraton Inn by the Ventura Harbor, I have no idea why that is.

Related Info

Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort
1050 Schooner Drive, Ventura, CA 93001
805-658-1212 starwoodhotels.com/fourpoints/ventura

Island Packers
Want to take a cruise around the harbor, or out to the Channel Islands? Island Packers’ office is right across the marina from the hotel
Islandpackers.com

Water taxi, tours, boat rentals
Venturaboatrentals.com
Ventura events
Ventura-usa.com/calendar-of-events

Related Photos

Ventura Pier, originally built in 1872, at 1,958 feet, is thought to be the longest in California.

Visitors take in the view at Soter Point in the Marina Park.

A man-made creek flows through the grounds at Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor.

The view from the Sheraton looks back at the city of Ventura.

Boats line up in the marina in front of Ventura Harbor Village.

I mean, what’s not to love about Ventura?

The weather is fantastic, it has a charming downtown, great beaches and, heck, it even has agriculture so we Bakerspatch folks will feel right at home.

And the “to do” list is a mile long. You can hang at the beach, hit a great bar, paddle board, kayak or take an excursion to the Channel Islands.

I found the Sheraton was perfectly situated for any and all of those activities.

For a larger, resort-type hotel, it’s also competitively priced from about $120 to $150 a night (suites are more at $350 a night).

It’s also pet friendly. I saw lots of people with their dogs. It’s an extra $75 deposit, but isn’t Fido worth it?

And, if you’re not in to all the “to doing,” the Sheraton has a nice bar and restaurant with an incredible patio overlooking the marina. Or you can hide out at the shady pool area.

Either way, you pretty much don’t have to move a muscle if you don’t feel like it.

There are also tennis courts, a hot tub and spa right there at the hotel, giving you plenty of options.

And, a little known fact: The hotel was designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in the 1980s, which gives the lobby, bar and restaurant areas a unique look and feel.

Speaking of the restaurant, Alexander’s, I highly recommend the clam chowder, which was very creamy and had lots of actual clams, and also the portabella mushroom Florentine — I love it when the spinach is fresh and flavorful rather than overloaded with cream or butter.

Of course, I had more than that, but those two items alone, plus the yummy bread, are a meal in themselves.

But here’s something you’ll want to check ahead of time. The Sheraton is well-known for hosting big events, such as weddings, which means sometimes the restaurant is occupied by private parties. You can still be served, but in the bar area.

If you really want the restaurant experience instead, be sure and ask the front desk what the schedule is when you’re booking your room.

Even though Alexander’s was occupied with a wedding during my trip, it didn’t stop me from enjoying a great dinner.

I also really appreciated that the hotel had bikes for rent right from the front desk.

They are beach cruiser style bikes — no gears, back pedal to brake, and nice wide seat. They’re great for a Sunday morning ride. They also had one of those carriage bikes for families.

If you follow the marked “bike route” from the hotel, you’ll wind through some beautiful neighborhoods with hardly any traffic and end up at the Marina Park on the other side of the harbor. You can bike all through the park eventually ending at Soter Point where an iconic mermaid statue overlooks the ocean.

After pedaling back to the hotel (it’s maybe two miles round trip and no hills), you can either have the renowned Sunday brunch at Alexander’s or head over the Ventura Harbor Village and check out the restaurants there.

I headed to the harbor village, where I perused a number of galleries and shops before grabbing a quick bite of quiche on the patio at Le Petit Café and Bakery.

That’s also where I found you can catch one of the Channel Island tours, rent a boat, kayak or “surf bike,” and even book a harbor dinner cruise.

Somehow that “to do” list never seemed to get shorter.

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