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The Gondolas of Channel Islands Harbor

Sit back for an old-school on-the-water trip just off shore.

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    Gondola Paradiso
    Sit back for an old-school on-the-water trip just off shore with Gondola Paradiso.

    VENICE MEETS THE PACIFIC: The shoreline of California sees a whole host of boats, from the gussied-up glitter wonders that parade just before Christmas to the kayaks that take adventurers into sea caves and near where sea life is known to roam. We're also known for those cruises that cross various channels, to our off-shore islands, places like Channel Islands National Park. If you think of Oxnard, and Channel Islands Harbor, and you think of a boat, you just might alight upon the image of such a cruise, one that makes a big trip, across several miles, in search of nature and some sightseeing. But there's another type of vessel associated with the harbor, and it has its roots in Italy, and not Santa Cruz Island or San Miguel. It's the gondola, of course, and Gondola Paradiso offers 50-minute boat rides around the harbor to those looking for a closer-to-shore, old-school romantic experience. And the time is nigh for that: Valentine's Weekend is ahead, and reservations are open for the company's Valentine's Specials.

    FEB. 12, 13, AND 14... are the 2016 dates, and the cost? It's one hundred and fifty dollars per duo. You can cuddle up and look for gulls or seals while snacking upon that classic sweet of the holiday, chocolate-covered strawberries. There are no beverages provided during the trip around the harbor, but showing with your own bottle of wine is a-okay. As for having the boat to just the two of you? Well, you will, though of course the gondolier is present and operating the vessel, as is tradition.

    IF VALENTINE'S... is already fully booked for you, your gondola experience could happen any ol' time, as this isn't a holiday-only adventure. And if you have kids? They're welcome on the boat, and young'uns under age 11 get a free trip (and, yep, they'll wear a life jacket, too). Ready for a slice of Venezia in a spot known for whale-watching trips? The California coast boasts a multitude of on-the-water trips, including the storied, snapshot-worthy gondola.