Yes that's right, here is the Ojai insiders guide you've been asking for. At least once a month I get an email from a friend or blog reader asking where to stay and what to do in Ojai. Their seems to be a new guide or article written about Ojai weekly and I can't say my guide is any different. It is however more extensive than most and written by someone who grew up there.
Ojai has changed quite a bit since I was a child. Growing up it was a hippie town, where you knew practically everyones name and could leave your car door unlocked. A place that drew all sorts of creative and spiritual types. I guess none of that has changed exactly, but It got a little more conservative somewhere in there and now I think it is having a little bohemian resurgence. Young people are realizing what a wonderful oasis it is less than two hours from Los Angeles and therefor it's becoming, dare I say, hip. Not to get ahead of myself here. It still has a ways to go. Well known actors and musicians are moving here to get away from the city life and it seems to be "the" place to get married these days. I feel really lucky to have been raised in such a sweet town. I also feel lucky that my parents still call this place home and I get to spend holidays here and visit whenever I like. People ask me if I mind that it is getting more and more popular, but truthfully I am glad. With popularity comes cuter shops and better restaurants. Here are some of my favorites below.
To Stay //
- there is no doubt this inn is the hippest spot in town. the rooms have that rustic/bohemian vibe. burn some palo santo, lounge by the pool or have a picnic on the lawn. you can even bring your dog. make sure to stop by their bar cheif's peak to have a beer and listen to vinyl.
- looking for a more luxurious getaway, than this is your place. a sprawling resort known for it's spa, golf course and celebrity guests. they have three pools and six restaurants on the property. both couples and families alike flock here. a slightly older crowd.
- this place could not be cuter. stay in one of eleven decked out airstreams and end your nights around the cozy fire pit getting to know the other guests. there are picnic tables, a shop for all your needs and yes there is wifi. borrow one of the many bikes they have available for guests and ride a short distance into town.
- looking to have a more authentic Ojai experience? check out one of the many cute vacation rentals.
- a peaceful boutique inn about a 10 min walk from town. perfect for couples or friends looking to relax. no kids allowed. some of the rooms have kitchens, wood burning stoves and clawfoot tubs.
- this charming schoolhouse from 1874 was turned into a bed and breakfast with 8 guest rooms. it sits right in the center of town, walking distance to most restaurants and shops.
To Eat //
- an organic grocery store and restaurant where you'll find me most days. on saturday and sunday from 8:30-11:30am they serve my favorite huevos rancheros and other yummy breakfast items. friday and saturday from 5:30-8:30pm they have a weekend farm cafe with yummy salads and wood fired pizzas. other daily favorites are the salad bar, the dairy free chai and their acai bowl.
- a tapas restaurant great for lunch or dinner or to just grab a drink at the bar. one of my favorite spots in town.
- my favorite place to go in the mornings for coffee , housemade pastries and baked goods. their seeded bagel with cream cheese and their breakfast sandwich are my go-to's. closed mon and tue.
- go for a romantic italian meal and a bottle of wine. closed mon.
- delicious and healthy. grab lunch and a date shake and sit on their shaded patio.
- the perfect place for a quick and easy lunch. there is no seating, so I take my tacos to-go and eat them at beautiful libbey park across the street.
- this homey italian restaurant is a staple in Ojai. It's the one and only restaurant on the east side of town. they're known for their delicious tomato salad and strawberry shortcake.
- if you're looking for a classic american breakfast with a kitschy diner feel this is the place. closed wed.
- this gastropub on the east end of town has become a go-to for my family. they have a full bar and really good pot pies perfect for a chilly night.
- right in the center of town. you'll see the locals here every morning (including my dad).
- organic coffee in the meiner's oaks part of town.
- grab a beer and see some live music at this classic Ojai spot that feels right out of a different era. on sundays a sea of bikers come from far and wide to have brunch here.
- pick up a bottle of wine, beer or liquor from their large selection to drink back in your hotel room or order beer and bar snacks in their tap house.
- an Ojai institution. wander, sit and enjoy this outdoor bookstore where you can pay for a books on the honor system during closing hours.
- owners bianca and channon have that effortless, bohemian style I so admire and their shop is no different. for a mixture of both new and vintage housewares and clothing for men and women, you must stop in. closed mon and tue.
- I like to stop at this well curated shop to pick up a new cookbook, a gift for a friend or perhaps a jacket from ace and jig. make sure to buy an Ojai apolis jute bag before you walk to the farmer's market next door and load up on produce.
- a lovely new addition to ojai, dekor & co is the sister store to dekor here in los angeles and one of the few shops you can find stylish furnishings and rugs as well as housewares. they also have a little tea room inside the store if you need a shopping break. closed tue.
- nestled in an old gas station is this adorable shop and custom framer. whether it's a vintage blanket, local pottery or a campfire scented candle I have trouble leaving here empty handed. closed mon.
- as you walk down the hallway/entrance to this tucked away little shop you will feel like you're in on a secret. They have an array of gifts for both the home and garden.
- if you happen to be in Ojai between 9am-1pm on a sunday you must check out the farmer's market. since Ojai is surrounded by some of the best farm country in southern california it is one of the best (in my opinion). there is also a nice selection of hand carved bowls, baskets and artisanal goods made by locals.
- after you go to the farmer's market walk next door and check out this art gallery inside a house built in the 1870's. each month they feature new and established contemporary artists, including many locals.
- a stretch of 58 acres owned and maintained by the Ojai Valley land conservancy. walk around, take a hike. In the spring months it is covered with wild mustard flowers. quite a beautiful sight to behold.
- I absolutely love autumn in Ojai. while it's still quite warm during the day, the leaves are changing and the fall produce overflows from roadside trees. around halloween I like to roam around the bocalli's pumpkin patch and corn field. I try to get my fall fix when I can.
- the famous avant-garde artist and ceramicist beatrice wood lived most her life in her beloved Ojai, until her death at 105. you can go visit the center named in her honor, to see her work as well as rotating exhibits and workshops.
- I grew up down the road from this magical place and spent many a sunset here, so it holds a very special place in my heart. It is perched on top of a mountain on the east end of Ojai Valley. go to meditate, roam the gardens or to watch the famed "pink moment." the views are simply breathtaking. just remember to whisper.
- if you're looking to relax and be pampered while in town you must head here. get a luxurious massage or just a day pass to use the pool, steam room and jacuzzi.
- a little chinese massage place right in the middle of town. get an hour foot massage for only $35. you will not be sorry.
- hike to the sespe river and look for the hot springs (if they're open).