Tucked between two quiet neighborhoods in the northern reaches of Oxnard is a recreation site that offers the serenity of walking barefoot in a park and the excitement of playing in the ocean.
Oxnard Beach Park, at 1601 S. Harbor Blvd., is one of the few municipal parks in the county that sits seaside, combining the amenities of a regular city park with the benefits of being on the beach.
One in an occasional series on parks in Ventura County.
"People come from all over to use it, because they like being able to have both," said Irma Medina, a city parks employee. "It's a beautiful place."
Despite the intermittent gray skies of June, on a recent afternoon two young women and their children enjoyed a cookout, while two older men sat nearby on a bench facing the water. A long-haired jogger ran laps on the paved half-mile loop that circles the grounds.
The 61-acre park is a giant circle of green grass lined with towering palm trees, shrubs and patches of pink, orange and yellow flowers.
Small sand dunes separate the park from the brisk sea breezes, but several paths lead from the park to the Pacific.
Just off Harbor Boulevard, a large old wooden sign tells visitors they have arrived at Oxnard State Beach. It's the right place, but the city has owned the park for the last few years and now refers to it without the word "state."
The park's main parking lot can be reached by driving into the facility over a cobblestone road and passing a small kiosk. A second lot can be reached by hanging a quick right and then a quick left just after turning off Harbor Boulevard.
Parking is 50 cents an hour or $3 a day per vehicle. Trucks with trailers that take up two spaces pay $6 daily, $9 if three spaces are used. Machines in each lot sell parking passes. A covered picnic area has two large barbecue pits and eight picnic tables and can accommodate more than 100 people.
The cooking pavilion must be reserved ahead of time by calling the city parks department. It is a favorite spot for people hosting parties and large family picnics, Medina said.
Scattered throughout the park are 11 small barbecues and picnic tables that can be used any time. There are also two bathroom buildings, pay telephones, a cold water sink and ample trash cans.
Although this is not a park equipped with playground equipment, plenty of other activities are available.
There are five sand volleyball courts, three with nets and two without, and a baseball backstop for softball games. Bicycles can be rented at a nearby hotel, and some companies will bring hot air balloons to the beach.
Many residents pass through the park while riding bikes, jogging, in-line skating and walking.
"It's a quiet place to come during the week, but it can get busy on the weekend," said Ricardo Lopez, 71, of Oxnard, who lives nearby and walks to the park daily.
To make reservations for the picnic pavilion, call the city at 385-7950. The park is open for day use only.
Tips of the week: The National Park Service will celebrate National Trails Day on Saturday, with volunteers gathering to help clean up and rehabilitate the Mishe Mokwa Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Tools will be provided, and volunteers can come for all or part of the day. Participants will receive free water bottles, snack bars and T-shirts. The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area in Thousand Oaks at 370-2301 for details.
A group trying to raise funds for a visitors center at Leo Carrillo Beach will host the Poker Trail Ride, a mountain bike event from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Point Mugu State Park.
The ride can be done over nine or 15 miles. Riders must stop at five checkpoints, where they will receive a playing card. The rider with the best poker hand at the end of the event wins a new mountain bike. The cost to ride is $25. For details, call Ken Millius at (818) 768-4821.
Ideas for Jaunts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 653-7576.