Channel Islands Visitor Center
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A Super Nice Outing!
Channel Islands Visitor Center is a great place to go with your family! It makes for a super nice day to eat lunch at Harbor Cove Cafe, browse the exhibits at the Visitor Center, and then play on the wonderul dunes in front of the Visitor Center.
Movie, Tide Pool, Statues
The Center was designed to give tourists information about the Channel Islands National Park, a group of four islands off the coast that are protected and only accessible through certain tours. The islands are exquisitely beautiful and unspoiled and you can learn about them during a 25 minute movie in the auditorium.
The Visitor Center is blessed with fantastic modern exhibits. There's a tide pool tank with humongous star fish, tiny sharks, sea urchins, and fish. The friendly rangers will tell you about each of the creatures. There are statues of the giant elephant seals that make the islands their home, as well as the island foxes.
Archaelogy, Sea Creatures, and Geography
The Channel Islands are an archaeologist's dream. In 1994, a Pygmy Mammoth skeleton fossil was found in a dune. You can see a replica of this, as well as a comparison of a regular mammoth foot with a pygmy mammoth foot.
There are exhibits on shells and lobsters and geological formations. Unusual rock formations called caliche are found on San Miguel Island. When sand and shell are blown inland and cover vegetation, a chemical reaction takes place, leaving behind these strange rock formations, which are replicated in an exhibit in the museum.
Bookstore, Dolphin to Ride, Garden
The bookstore has lovely books about the sea. Outside kids can ride dolphin and seal statues and look out on the harbor.
In front of the Visitor Center, a garden displays the strange vegetation that is found on the islands.
After your Visit
Walk across the street after your visit to Harbor Cove Beach and have a blast yelling "I'm the King of the castle, you're the dirty rascal!" from the top of the dunes. Watch the boats go by and walk south to see the surfing beach.
Enjoy a burger on the waterfront picnic tables or balcony tables at Harbor Cove Cafe, a lovely sunny spot.
Walk or drive south to the fun shops at colorful Ventura Harbor. There's tons for kids to do there, including arcade games, a carousel, and an icecream shop.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
The Visitor Center is located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive, call (805) 658-5730.
Exit Highway 101 southbound at Seaward Ave and turn left on Harbor Blvd. Follow Harbor Blvd for 2 miles and then turn right on Spinnaker Dr- you will see signs for Ventura Harbor Village. Follow Spinnaker Drive to the end. There is plenty of parking.
From Highway 101 northbound there is an ugly, faster way but here is the most scenic route: exit at Seaward ave and turn left on Seaward ave and then left on Harbor Blvd. Follow Harbor Blvd for 1 1/2 miles and then turn right on Spinnaker Dr- you will see signs for Ventura Harbor Village. Follow Spinnaker Drive to the end. There is plenty of parking.
Cost and Hours
The Visitor Center is free and fully accessible.
Hours are 8:30-5 daily. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
On weekends at 11am and 3pm there are special talks by the rangers.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.