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Family vacation in Southern California without the crowds

If you live in Southern California, you know that summer reveals crowds of visitors from all over the country and around the world. This means that it is difficult to go anywhere without encountering a lot of people and traffic – two main ingredients that make children (and parents) touching.

One place that seems to hold on to the retained charm of California and has a lot of fun for kids is Ventura, especially the three cities known as VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura). Located on Highway 101 north of Los Angeles, VenturaCountyWest features unoccupied beaches (with free parking), ocean adventures and plenty of easy activities for kids. Here are some to check out.

Channel Islands National Park

Take a tourist boat to the Lama Islands National Park outside the ports of Ventura or the Channel Islands (Oxnard). The islands are just 11 miles off the coast of Ventura County. Along the way you can see dolphins, seals, pelicans and other wildlife. Walking, overnight stays, kayaking are available once you arrive on shore. Tours are booked through Island Packers, http://www.islandpackers.com/.

The village of Ventura Harbor

Ventura Harbor Village features an arcade that includes an old-fashioned indoor carousel, an arcade, and a candy store with more than 20 varieties of fuji (cooked daily fresh). Families can rent paddles and electric boats to tour the quiet harbor canals. Return to the shore, plan to dine at one of the daily harbor restaurants, which includes freshly caught seafood. http://www.venturaharborvillage.com.

Raceway of Ventura County

Cars, motorcycles and all other racing vehicles board the track almost every weekend at the Ventura County Fair in Ventura. It’s all good fun while cheering up your favorite driver.

Tea Wings Children’s Museum

This children’s museum in Oxnard is very unattractive on the outside, but once inside, the eight and below will have to do so many things and see that they won’t know where to start. They can dress up as firefighters, doctors, or pretend to be astronauts who land on the moon in the Apollo spacecraft. There are snakes to hold, treasure to find in geological digging and an abundance of Legos to build whatever they want. Children can try their hand at climbing a wall or let their imagination run wild while in the driver’s seat of an actual car.

Sky High Sports

You won’t find a large sign announcing Sky High Sports Camarillo from the highway. It’s in an industrial park – it has to be – the space is huge. It is full of trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Kids can play trampoline dodge ball and other organized games or … just jump. All under supervision. Sky High also has a laser marker. Kids are sure to come out sweaty and tired – the perfect way to spend an afternoon.