VENTURA— In the southern part of California, halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, is the coastal City of Ventura. But did you know that the City’s formal name is San Buenaventura, after the 1782 Spanish mission, Mission San Buenaventura, established by Father Junipero Serra? Buenaventura means “good fortune” in Spanish.
The mission is still a popular attraction that lives in the historic downtown district of Ventura and gained a lot of attention when Father Serra was given sainthood by Pope Francis in 2015.
What Ventura makes up for in good fortune it lacks in gluten. Ventura was the first city in the world to produce lima beans outside of their native home in Peru, and it was from these beans that gluten-free options were introduced.
In the 1920s, a baker named William Baker (who later changed his name to Willian Koch) began working at a bakery in Ventura and later opened his own shop called Bill Baker Bakery in Ojai. Baker is known for perfecting his “wheat-less flour” by using soy and lima beans from the soils of Ventura. Baker proved that the “best was yet to crumb” when wheat-free breads and pastries entered the health-food craze, and the gluten-free trend took off.
Ventura is also known for being the gateway to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands National Park, also called “the American Galapagos,” is an environmental treasure of five islands, including Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. The national park has seen the recovery of multiple endangered species, such as the Island Fox and the California condor. Ventura Harbor is home to Island Packers, the official concessionaire to the Channel Islands National Park, and they offer both landing and non-landing trips to all five islands where guests can camp, hike, kayak, and much more. None landing trips include whale watching through the waters of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to witness some of the largest marina mammals as they make their annual migrations.
Established on March 22, 1872, Ventura has more than 150 years of history and is a great place to visit.