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Ventura, CA (Population: 104,092)

San Buenaventura (commonly referred to as Ventura) is the county seat of Ventura County and has a population of 104,092 (2006). In 1782, Father Junipero Serra founded Mission San Buenaventura, forming the basis of what would later become the city of Ventura.

The downtown area still houses the Mission, as well as many museums, galleries, eco-businesses, thrift stores, high-end shops, and restaurants. Also located downtown is the historic Ortega Adobe, home to the Ortega Family who are now famous for their chile products. Ventura's ornate city hall building, which is also located downtown, is noted for its statue of Junipero Serra. About two blocks from city hall, you will find the beautiful Majestic Ventura Theater, which has hosted such bands as The Doors, Bad Religion, Modest Mouse, and Fugazi.

One of the most visited historic sites on the central coast, the Olivas Adobe, is an early California Rancho home that operates today as a museum and performing arts venue. The Adobe hosts historic reenactments, demonstrations of Rancho life, and a summer concert series featuring genres from jazz to country.

Ventura is well-known for its great surfing spots, particularly Surfer's Point or C Street, where surfing competitions are often held. The Ventura Harbor hosts a prominent fishing industry and Ventura Harbor Village houses an array of seafood restaurants and shops. The Channel Islands National Park headquarters is also located in the harbor, where boats to the Channel Islands depart daily.