Celebrate Graduation Weekend in Camarillo

Make the most of CSU Channel Islands grad weekend by exploring Camarillo

Photo courtesy of CSU Channel Islands

Congratulations Class of 2023! The California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus has been an integral part of the Camarillo community since first opening to students in 2002. Twenty-one years in, CSUCI grad weekend has been elevated to holiday status locally, and we always look forward to welcoming CSUCI students and alumni and their visiting families and friends. With 2023 graduation coming up May 20 and 21, we’ve put together a mini guide to help grads and their supporters make the most of what promises to be a very memorable weekend filled with very well-deserved celebrations.

Where to Stay

Your first order of business is securing accommodations to ensure you’ve got a sweet spot to base yourselves. Camarillo offers 11 hotel properties, all conveniently located just off the 101 and within a short drive from campus. For brand loyalists and those who like to earn points, you can check into a Best Western, Days Inn by Wyndham, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Sonesta Select Camarillo and Residence Inn by Marriott. If you’re on a budget, Motel 6, Quality Inn and Good Nite Inn are excellent options. And boutique hotel fans will feel right at home at Bella Capri Inn & Suites. Compare prices, check availability and book directly below.

Toast on the Town

Given it is going to be a very festive weekend, booking lunch and dinner reservations ASAP is highly recommended. Camarillo has some special occasion spots that deliver an elevated dining experience for groups.

If you have a large party, Slate Bistro & Craft Bar includes a private room with the capacity to seat 40 people. Located 10 minutes from the CSUCI campus, Slate provides internationally inspired dishes, tropical cocktails and a paradise-like atmosphere to make for the perfect graduation celebration.

Sheila’s Wine Bar & Cafe is known as one of Camarillo’s best kept secrets and is considered to have one of the largest wine selections in the county.  It’s the perfect setting for a family toast! 
Manhattan of Camarillo is an Italian inspired restaurant that truly offers something for everyone. Bring a group to the celebration and toast in their Madison Beer Garden or private wine room. Enjoy live entertainment in a fine dining steakhouse setting.

Time to Party

Recent grads will appreciate the motto over at El Rey Cantina, “Viva la vida” (Long live life)! A hit with both students and locals, this Old Town favorite is known for its authentic Mexican food, salsas and tacos, not to mention its tequila bar. Call ahead for catering if you plan to have a private event or want to book a large party at the restaurant. On weekends they offer brunch with menu options like biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos and buckets of bubbles. Viva, indeed!  

The folks over at Twisted Oak Tavern have a room available for large groups to gather, socialize and celebrate. What’s on tap for grads and beer loving friends and family? Over 18 beers from local craft brewers, craft beers from their own brewery, a full bar serving unique cocktails and classic favorites, and dishes prepared from scratch with locally sourced ingredients.

It’s a family affair at Institution Ale Co.  in Camarillo…literally. The Smith family opened Camarillo’s first brewery and tasting room in 2013 and it’s been “hopping” ever since. The 13,000-square-foot brewery includes a game room, tasting room and patio. Aside from over 20 beers on tap, they offer freshly baked artisan flatbread pizzas and giant pretzels.
Toast to the future at Camarillo Barrel Works, an event venue as well as a working winery, brewery, tasting and tap room. Home to both Cantara Cellars and Flatfish Brewing Company, the cellar is a great spot for a large party.

Make Memories

If you truly want to make it a trip to remember, allocate an extra day to visit Channel Islands National Park. The university’s namesake island chain is easily accessible from Ventura Harbor, and it’s an astounding natural wonderland worthy of your adventure bucket list. It’s considered the Galapagos of North America for the sheer volume and variety of flora and fauna only found on the islands. Hop aboard one of Island Packers Cruises to Santa Cruz Island and enjoy a day of pristine beauty and wildlife as you hike and explore on foot. Or up the adventure quotient with a guided kayaking excursion to explore the islands from sea level.

Enjoy 22 miles of beautiful beaches and great surf along the Ventura county coastline, only a short drive from Camarillo. Oxnard State Beach Park is perfect for a relaxing family day at the beach, and Port Hueneme Beach Park features endless activity options with picnic area, volleyball nets, fishing pier, and sprawling walking trails. If you’re searching for thrills, enjoy surfing at Rincon Point State Beach which has been ranked one of the top surf spots in the U.S.

Back on land, no trip to Camarillo is complete without a stop to the Camarillo Premium Outlets. Home to 150+ brand name stores offering incredible deals, style your grad with all the latest fashions. If mother nature beckons you outdoors, be sure to visit one of our local farms along the Camarillo Farm Trail. If hops are more your vibe, hit the craft beer trail. Take a step back in time through Camarillo’s rich history with a tour of the 18th century Camarillo Ranch home. Enjoy all 15 rooms of this Queen Anne Victorian home along with historical artifacts from Camarillo’s namesake family. Stroll through Old Town Camarillo’s many boutiques and restaurant options, and if you happen to be in town on Saturday morning, shop fresh local produce at the Camarillo Farmers Market.

Gifts for Grads

Looking for a unique way to show your support and love for a special Class of 2023 grad? Why not give them a unique experience they’ll never forget! Enjoy an adrenaline rush and epic views of the coast skydiving at Skydive Coastal California. If jumping out of a plane isn’t their style, they can enjoy beautiful views on a scenic helicopter tour of Camarillo and the coast at Orbic Helicopters

After all the excitement, a spa day is in order! Recoup with pampering treatments from Beauty Lounge Med Spa or Plush Med Spa. Both locations offer special packages for a full day of rest and relaxation. 

Camarillo boasts countless retail options from the Camarillo Premium Outlets or Old Town Camarillo. Surroundings Gifts is a great one-stop shop for all of your last-minute shopping, with candles, decor and an array of gift options. 

No matter what experiences and adventures you build into your celebratory weekend, sunny days will be here for you in Camarillo!