Ventura, officially San Buenaventura, is the county seat of Ventura County, California, United States. The coastal site, set against undeveloped hills and flanked by two free-flowing rivers, has been inhabited for thousands of years. European explorers encountered a Chumash village, referred to as Shisholop, here while traveling along the Pacific coast. They witnessed the ocean navigation skill of the native people and their use of the abundant local resources from sea and land. In 1782, the eponymous Mission San Buenaventura was founded nearby, where it benefitted from the water of the Ventura River. The town grew around the mission compound and incorporated in 1866. The development of nearby oil fields in the 1920s and the age of automobile travel created a major real estate boom during which many designated landmark buildings were constructed. The mission and these buildings are at the center of a downtown that has become a cultural, retail, and residential district and visitor destination.
Ventura lies between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara along U.S. Route 101, which was one of the original U.S. Routes.