Beautiful & Artist Ojai, California

For decades, Ojai, a kind of West Coast Shangri-La, has been a draw for LA locals who wanted a wellness fix, the views & vineyards, the art scene, and an easy escape from the city’s bustle in this relaxed, beautiful small town, nestled in a valley surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains. Here, the air is perfumed with orange blossom & lavender, there’s a dreamy golden hour, affectionately referred to by locals as the “pink moment” (best experienced at Meditation Mount, a 32-acre hilltop spiritual center – currently closed in the wake of last year’s devastating fire), as well as ample hiking trails, Spanish-style buildings wrapped in bougainvillea, and delicious dining—making it perfect for a peaceful retreat. Due to a ban on corporate chains, you won’t find a Starbucks for miles, but you’ll find plenty of locally run, mom-and-pop-style spots that are big on charm and have been around for years. Take a drive through the winding back roads, and be sure to stop at one of the many farm stands along the way.

See & Shop

I always stop by the delightful Bart’s Books, as well as local artist galleries/studios (Ojai has been a longtime artist haven). I also always hike (plenty to choose from, like Last Chance trail) or rent a bike to enjoy the many paths in nature around town, and pay a visit to Mediation Mount. You can also enjoy wine tasting at Casa Barranca Tasting Room or Ojai Tasting Room, and shop around the arcade or at some of the chic additions: In The Field, Summer Camp, Fig Curated Living, Tipple & Ramble

Stay

There are plenty of charming options, from the glamorous Ojai Valley Inn to the boutique Capri Hotel or Su Nido Inn or Thacher Inn or Ojai Rancho Inn or Casa Ojai Inn

Eat

After you hit the many fruit stands around Ojai, or perhaps visit the Sunday Farmer’s Market, there is a lot of great food to choose from. I grab coffee & morning treats at NoSo Social Cafe or Knead Baking Co or Ojai Coffee Roasting Co, Mexican from Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill , sushi from Hakane Sushi, and more at The Nest, Nocciolo, Osteria Monte Grappa, Boccalis, Ojai Pizza Company, O-Hi Frostie – and grab a drink at Deer Lodge! New opening alert: Topa Brewing just opening up!

carrie ojai