The rising sun bathes the expanse of turquoise water in a golden glow, and a lone figure breaks its still surface during her morning swim. So begins another day at the Ventura Aquatic Center, where meticulously maintained facilities and engaging programs coax swimmers of all ages into the refreshing depths. A 50-meter competition pool fields the backstrokes of lane swimmers, and a 25-meter recreation pool enables laid-back play sessions. Delighted squeals and giggles drift from the kids’ activity pool, where splashes of water keep little faces smiling and a pair of water slides facilitates high-speed entries. Throughout each day, a crew of American Red Cross–certified lifeguards patrols the premises to ensure the safety of all those frolicking in and around the pools.
Dedicated to educating and entertaining patrons, Ventura Aquatic Center’s seasoned instructors also host group and private swim lessons and water-safety classes. Synchronized-swimming lessons teach pupils the art of tandem movement, and lifeguard training prepares would-be rescuers for real-world rescue situations. Diving and water-polo teams unite players for in-pool athletics, and aquatic summer camps stave off the boredom and nostalgic re-readings of last year’s report cards inherent to the summer months.
A technicolor wall flecked with holds rises to the heavens inside the Vertical Heaven Climbing facility?or at least it would if the ceiling didn't prevent it from doing so. The 3,800-square-foot indoor rock-climbing destination invites climbers of all ages and abilities to tackle the many routes and challenges braided over its geometric face, which at times force them into inverted angles and heroic stretches to challenge every muscle in the body. Though this may sound treacherous to the uninitiated, 18 inches of padded flooring mean few injuries ever arise. The facility also invites climbers to tackle the mind-twisting, muscle-burning sport of bouldering?a nearer-to-the-ground version that doesn't require ropes, a partner, or a good-luck kiss from a mountain goat.
The sight of a medieval castle surrounded by tall cacti may seem anachronistic at first, but it's hard to question the image when one is trying to putt a mini golf ball into a grassy hole off the circulating paddles of a windmill. It's whimsical moments like this that make Golf N? Stuff's name feel understated. Beyond the two lush 18-hole mini golf courses that draw year-round visitors, the entertainment center boasts go-karts, bumper boats, and more than 100 arcade games. Batting cages let both kids and adults perfect their swings. Visitors can refuel on hot dogs, Dippin' Dots ice cream, and soda at the snack bar.
Inconspicuous from the outside, the interior of The 805 Bar and Grilled Cheese?formerly Andres Wine Bar and Tapas?is cozy and romantic, swathed in warm reds that match the hue of wines uncorked behind the bar. An expanded version of the original concept, the menu is home to crunchy, pressed paninis lined with melting cheeses, specialty meats, and love notes written in pesto. Wines are available by the glass or bottle alongside a host of craft beers and stirred or shaken cocktails.
What do dancers at the Monte Carlo Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet have in common? Besides the supernatural ability to walk on their toes, they got their start with The Ventura County Ballet Company. The school rigorously trains its students in Russian-style ballet, then shares the results with the community with full-scale, professional performances of classic works such as?The Nutcracker.
With a history stretching back more than 40 years, Circus Vargas wows audiences with dazzling acrobatics and rib-tickling clowns under a giant big-top tent. The show eschews animal performers for human-costumed spectacles, showcasing dazzling feats that only a few dexterous humans and short-circuited cyborgs are capable of. The circus's big top, hand-fashioned in Milan from 90,000 square feet of fabric, holds up to 1,500 show-goers in classic, blue-dyed elegance. Early-arriving guests can take part in an interactive preshow, jumping in the ring with ringmaster Jon Weiss as he leads audience members through tutorials that show how to perform stunts such as juggling, feather balancing, and balancing checkbooks with quill pens.