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Sharing Our Secret Getaway

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By Kathleen Sterling

We really don’t want to share our secret weekend getaway, but we promised the owners we’d cover their grand reopening.

Remember the rogue wave that hit Ventura in December? We watched in horror as a massive wave crashed through the ground floor of our favorite boutique hotel and washed up through Seaward Avenue, sending eight people to the hospital.

Months later and after much work by owner Judy Thomas and longtime manager Jay Williams the hotel has reopened to loyal customers ready to return to this little hidden bit of paradise.

Because even before the remodel, Inn on the Beach was a find. It literally sits right on the sand at the end of Seaward, and all  24 rooms face the ocean. 

For such an amazing vista, the beach is never that crowded, and the views are incredible. You can see up and down the coast, from the Ventura Pier to the north down south to the jetty, and across the ocean to the Channel Islands.

At the end of the day we love to sit on our balcony and watch the gorgeous sunsets, as the sun flames down into the sea. My joy comes as we see dolphins dance their way up the coast.

Rooms at Inn on the Beach are quaint, with old-fashioned floral wallpaper, antique armoires and built-in fireplaces in each room. The beds and bathrooms have been upgraded since the closure, and the rooms are comfortable and cozy, especially when the fire-places are on to ward off the chill – as we’ve stayed here during every season! I actually love staying during the winter, when the beach is deserted and we can just snuggle in with a glass of wine and watch for my dolphins.

In truth, this is the perfect place to relax and unwind, and you never even have to leave Seaward Ave.

There’s a big Von’s  at the east end  of the street for provisions. Those that can’t ever go without can hit Starbucks in the same center.

A continental breakfast of cereal, muffins and pastries is served in the breakfast room of the hotel, but for lunch and dinner there are dining options right out the front door.

A favorite place to hang for happy hour and dinner is Social Tap. Literally a two-minute walk away from the hotel, Social Tap offers a great pub atmosphere and food. Large televisions screen sports, and the big bar is always crowded with both visitors and locals alike, enjoying the daily specials, full bar, and their beer flights. Every day there’s a $5 beer of the day featuring a new brew, a $9 rotator on tap and $10 slushies.

There’s bar food like tacos and wings, but also huge burgers, fish and chips, burritos and sandwiches, and also salads and a great chicken tortilla soup. Social Tap is now serving Sunday brunch, which is a great go-to after a sound sleep listening to the waves wash up on the beach at the hotel. 

For a quick lunch, there’s the famous Pierpont Tacos, literally right next door. Everyone in Ventura knows their amazing offerings – try the fish tacos or my fave – the queso taco, just loaded with cheesy goodness. The tiny restaurant is definitely a go-to for any visitor.

When inspired by the ocean we hit Duke’s across the street for clam chowder or fried shrimp.

We do venture out during the day to Main Street Ventura, to check out the little boutiques, funky thrift stores, antique stores and restaurants that line the pedestrian-only section of the main drag.

Creatures of habit, we always stop at Paradise Pantry for their insane grilled cheese sandwich and spicy fish soup.

Owner/chef Kelly Briglio serves up a menu of amazing sandwiches and salads – plus a killer mac and cheese. We usually start with the pantry bruschetta, which offers large pieces of grilled ciabatta with cheese, walnut pesto and oven-roasted tomatoes. But it’s the grilled cheese that keeps us coming back – rosemary Jack and aged cheddar with caramelized onions. To die for.

Partner Tina Thayer is in charge of our other favorite portion of Paradise Pantry. They offer a wine and cheese store right on site, with a great selection of both local and international wines, and oh! the cheeses…

I love to order a charcuterie plate to go, pick up a bottle of wine, and head back to Inn on the Beach to watch the sunset from the balcony, nibbling on cheese and enjoying a new vintage discovered at Paradise Pantry.

Inn on the Beach is just a half an hour away from the valley, but worlds’ away from the stress and strain of work and reality. I don’t sleep well at home, but there, listening to the waves break on the sand I sleep like a baby. Waking up to dolphins playing in the water is a dream.

We’ve come to Inn on the Beach for years, and always loved our secret vacation spot.

We’re sharing the newly remodeled version now with our readers, so you too can escape the heat of the valley and head to Ventura – and a perfect weekend getaway of your own!

Inn on the Beach is located at 1175 Seaward Avenue. There is free parking and free wifi. Editor’s note: Book a room on the second or third floor for ocean views. Call (805) 652-2000 or visit


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