I had heard of Ojai for years and it sounded like a place that I would love. A few months ago I was finally able to visit this magical gem. Just a short drive from LA (assuming there's no traffic - ha!) and you're in a different world surrounded by orange groves and vineyards with the Topatopa Mountains as the backdrop.
During our first day we hopped on bikes and explored the town, rode along the orange groves and stopped at a few wineries. It's definitely worth checking out Bart's Books (the outdoor books store) and The Ojai Vineyard. Do yourself a favor and just buy a few bottles of their Rose. It's amazing and reasonably priced. We went through a bottle or two each night and I loved it so much that I got four more sent back to Seattle.
The next morning we headed out for a hike in the Los Padres National Forest. As we were walking along the Cozy Dell trail we passed a botany class examining the wild lavender, sage and mint. It's not often that you come back saying you had a great smelling hike.
After the hike we had a pool day at our hotel, the Ojai Rancho Inn - a place that we all wanted to permanently move into. Upon check they encourage you to take a stick of Palo Santo to cleanse your room, naturally everyone did and the heavenly scent filled the grounds. The Rancho Inn also has the best (tiny) bar in Ojai, Cheif's Peak. There's maybe room for 15 people inside but that never deterred us from finding a cozy nook. Plus they sell The Ojai Vineyard Rose!
That evening we drove up to Meditation Mount to watch the Pink Moment. The minute we arrived Ojai we started hearing all about the Pink Moment (you know, that time right before the sun rises or after the sun sets) and how it's extra special in Ojai (some say it only happens there). And Meditation Mount is perfect place to watch it all go down (literally).
We spent our last morning wandering through the bountiful Sunday Farmer's Market and the afternoon at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa getting treatments and using their very luxurious pool. If you stay at the spa I'm sure you wouldn't even have the energy to leave and explore town.
Now for the important stuff, FOOD. How the crap are there so many delicious restaurants in Ojai? I don't know but I do know that I like almost all of them. Here were some of our favorites:
- Kneed Baking Company - everything is amazing but especially the egg sandwiches, make sure you add arugula
- The Farmer and the Cook - good for lunch and smoothies
- Oysteria Monte Grappa - homemade pastas and amazing salads
- Azu - great salads and burgers
I'm definitely going to add Ojai into my rotation when I'm in need of some sun. Watch out Palm Springs, you've got some competition.