I remember the first time I connected to the Internet without being plugged into anything: It was at the Underground in Ventura, that extinct coffee house, cafe and live music venue that was always just a little bit too spacious for its own good. They advertised free wireless Internet on a sandwich board in front of the store and, when I finally bought a computer capable of making a Wi-Fi connection, I went straight there. I had visions of myself sitting on a second-hand couch in the cavernous abyss that was the Underground while working tirelessly on my first novel. Instead, I bought a coffee, connected to the Internet and sent a number of e-mails that went something like this: “I’m writing you from the Underground! I’m connected to the Internet! But I’m not plugged into anything!”
It was a big moment and the novelty has not worn off. Years later, I’m still amazed when I can walk into a coffee shop or book store, sit down, open up my laptop and check my e-mail or pay my bills. As a customer, I’m appreciative of any place that provides that service (and still think the powers that be at Starbucks are crazy for not offering Wi-Fi for free).
While Ventura County may not be Austin (where free Wi-Fi is as prevalent as free samples at Costco), there are still a number of places where you can buy a cup of coffee and spend the entire day working on that memoir. Or, if you’re like me, checking your favorite blogs while promising yourself you’ll start next time.
Here are a few places throughout the county that offer (God bless them) free wireless internet.
2364 Ventura Blvd.
The same quality and service that you’ll find at the Palermo in downtown Ventura (i.e., top notch), with a convenient Camarillo location. Nice, cozy environment.
2860 Camino Dos Rios, Suite B
It’s a small coffee place with limited seating, but the staff is unbelievably friendly and the coffee is great. Just up the grade and right off the Wendy exit.
11534 N. Ventura Ave.
You have to get a password at the counter when you order your coffee, but that’s a pretty small obstacle when you consider the fact that this is just about the only place in Ojai that offers free Wi-Fi.
Zoey’s Coffee Loft
451 E. Main St.
The space is small, and there are only two outlets. However, if you score a good table, this is the kind of place you could easily spend your entire day. Good coffee, friendly service and a view that makes you feel like you’re in Europe.
5722 Telephone Road
You can’t plug in here — so the length of your stay depends on the power of your laptop’s battery. Nice quiet atmosphere, good coffee and a convenient location for residents of East Ventura.
1954 Goodyear Ave.
Probably not where you’re going to want to work on anything that requires much attention, as there are way too many distractions, but a great place to sit and catch up on e-mails while Junior tries his best to break a wrist on the various skateboard ramps.