The Locals-Only Guide to Ojai, California
Cutting inconspicuously away from the California coast, tucked between mountains and amid fragrant orange groves, is the city of Ojai. It’s miraculous how peacefully bucolic this place can feel, it being so very close to the Los Angeles metropolis (just shy of two hours away). Less popular a destination than Santa Barbara yet with all the necessary fittings for a rejuvenating stay, Ojai provides a little taste of wine country, on a smaller, cozier scale than Northern California’s destination towns. It’s the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway—though you might be tempted to stay much longer. To ensure you hit all the spots necessary to solidify your love, we’ve scouted the best places to stay, eat, and entertain yourself. Read on.
WHAT: Good luck ever leaving if you choose to stay at this one. The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is la crème de la crème of luxury Ojai lodging. Think sprawling 200-acre grounds, four-poster beds, adobe fireplaces, aromatherapy workshops, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, and more.
WHO: Ojai Rancho Inn
WHAT: The epicentre of Ojai’s recent renaissance, Ojai Rancho Inn is a pared-down retreat for the creative set. Cool interiors featuring artwork and creations from Los Angeles–area makers, a great gift shop, and a sparkling pool make this a great choice for a young couple’s getaway or an excursion with friends.
WHO: Emerald Iguana Inn
WHAT: A 10-minute walk from the town center, this peaceful boutique inn is relaxed and low-key. No kids are allowed, so it’s great for anyone seeking true peace and quiet.
WHO: Farmer and the Cook
WHAT: This organic grocer and restaurant has a menu stocked with Mexican-style dishes with a locavore inflection (Swiss chard enchilada and raw tacos are interspersed with more traditional burritos, huarache, and tamales). Farmer and the Cook also sells local-made pantry items and has one of the best patios for taking in the sunshine.
WHO: Knead Baking Company
WHAT: Make this cosy breakfast and lunch spot your go-to for morning coffee, homemade pastries, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches.
WHAT: Another more upscale option, Azu offers tasty tapas perfect for lunch or dinner. The menu is packed with produce from local farms and features a solid wine and cocktail menu, too.
WHO: Meditation Mount
WHAT: Ojai has long been a destination for individuals seeking enlightenment, inspiration, and calm. Nowhere is this purpose more plain than at Meditation Mount, the scenic hilltop lookout point and mediation center that is open from sunrise to sunset. It’s the perfect place to perch at day’s end and watch the warm glow light up the entire valley.
WHAT: The Ojai Meadows Preserve encompasses a stretch of 58 acres of land conservancy and is the perfect dose of wilderness and nature. Take a self-guided hike alongside the backdrop of mountains, check out the birds and wildlife, and in spring months, roam the hillsides cloaked in blooming wild mustard.
WHO: Fig Curated Living
WHAT: Turn off the main Ojai arcade down a garden alleyway and you’ll find Fig Curated Living, a sunny little shop filled with every manner of homeware and giftable (garden décor, planters, textiles, ceramics, candles, bath items, jewellery, and more).
WHAT: Ojai is one of the few places in the United States where olive oil is produced, and the orchards here are all quite old and beautiful. Visit the Ojai Olive Oil Company, open Wednesdays and Saturdays, for a tour of the grounds and a tasting of the range of olive oils produced right there, plus balsamic vinaigrettes from Modina, Italy.