March 1, 2018
The history of Oxnard reaches back to the 1700’s. After the Chumash tribes that lived on the land were resettled to pueblos, pioneers from around the world came to stake their claim of fertile land that today is known as Oxnard.
Among the pioneers were the family who became the town’s namesake, the Oxnard family. Originally from Marseilles, France, the Oxnard brothers built a successful 100-acre sugar beet factory. In order to transport the product, the brothers had a railroad line developed nearby. With this new economic powerhouse and easy access to transportation, it wasn’t long before a sprawling town began to develop. These were the humble beginnings of downtown Oxnard.
Although most of the original buildings were demolished during the Great Depression, 15 beautifully restored Victorian Era structures were lovingly preserved. Today, these homes that were built between 1876 and 1912, make up the historic Heritage Square where visitors will find shops, La Dolce Vita restaurant, various businesses and a wine tasting room. Rancho Ventavo Cellars, a local winery that made Heritage Square the new home of its tasting room where visitors can sample different wines from the revered local winery.
During the “Heritage Square Holiday Tours”, costumed docents recreate the charm of the Victorian age with tours of the elegantly decorated homes. Inside the chapel, visitors enjoy the artistry of custom gingerbread houses on display. Throughout the summer, the square hosts the “Heritage Square Summer Concert Series” with live music performances to delight music lovers of all ages.
Downtown Oxnard is now home to a host of specialty shops, a 14-screen state-of-the-art movie theater, over 40 international restaurants and the Carnegie Art Museum. This museum is another facet of the history that still lives on in Oxnard today, built in 1906 the Greco-Roman style building now showcases the creative pieces of Southern California artists, and is right next door to the public studio where many come to create their works. With such a variety of activities all within walking distance, the area is a major hub for locals and visitors alike to come and enjoy California’s perfect weather while shopping and grabbing a bite to eat.
Looking for an evening at the theater? Just a few blocks from the heart of downtown is the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. Open since 1968, the Performing Arts Center has hosted thousands of performances including; the New West Symphony, Broadway musicals, plays and community movie nights.
The downtown area is also home to several annual parades, festivals, and events that celebrate the community and the culture within it. During the holidays, the town transforms into a holiday wonderland with the annual Christmas parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony that mark the beginning of the season. Crowds flock to view the nightly light and music show, as well as the famous “Christmas Tree Lane,” a neighborhood in the downtown area that is known for its magical and extravagant light displays.
During the summer, downtown brings the heat with the much-loved Oxnard Salsa Festival; a celebration of all things salsa-music, food and dance! This free community event draws thousands of locals and visitors to the downtown area for a spicy weekend celebrating the cultural diversity of the town.
For foodies, check out First Thursday’s featuring over 12 Food Trucks and live entertainment. Every Thursday morning, grab some fresh local produce at the weekly Farmer’s Market. Between 5th & B Streets at Plaza Park, the market offers fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked goods, plants, specialty items and more.
While Oxnard’s vibrant downtown area has evolved greatly over the span of its history, it has and forever will be the heart of the community. Experience the history for yourself, start planning your trip to Oxnard today or enter to win our Spotlight Giveaway for a chance to win a two night’s stay in Downtown Oxnard, gift certificates to local restaurants, museum tickets and more!