3 DAYS* in OJAI
Although I love Los Angeles, I love ditching LA even more. And despite a plethora of weekend get-away options, Ojai (pronounced ‘Ohh, hi!’) consistently hovers in my Top 3. The idyllic get-away is a favorite among California’s wealthier set for its arid, hilly beauty and relaxed vibe.
Chain stores are verboten and many of the residents like to hug a tree on the weekend. Ojai’s quiet charm also attracts A-listers like Miss Witherspoon and Magic Mike who occasionally rub shoulders at the local Farmer’s Market. If it’s relaxation, romance and outdoor activities you’re after, then look no further.
Day 1* in Ojai
Only 90 miles from LA, Ojai feels like California’s answer to Mount Olympus in which Anthony Hopkins (another local) gets to play Zeus, the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room serves as Bacchus’ tavern and the countless yogis Om you into their ashrams like the Sirens lured Odysseus’ men to shore. Still with me?
Wedged between mountain ranges and further improved by a mild, Mediterranean climate the area exudes tranquility. Fruit orchards, olive tree farms and a Spanish colonial style downtown could border on saccharine Pleasantville-style if it weren’t for its bohemian hippie influences.
Ethereal enlightenment-seekers, urban tastemakers and a farm-to-table crowd give this hamlet its Shangri-La flavor.
And while we’re on the subject of flavor… a visit to Ojai Olive Oil is obligatory. You can join a tour and/or stuff your face with oil-drenched bread pieces until the cows come home. Their infused condiments have become staples in my kitchen.
If you kept your dignity around the bread bowl, stop by Hip Vegan Café on your way back into town. The Ray’s Ruben tricked even a die-hard carnivore like myself into meatisfaction. Round out with a creamy date shake and embrace the inevitable food coma!
Time to let it all hang out (or suck it in) at the pool! The Ojai Rancho Inn - an Instagram darling - has a nice chlorine puddle, pleasant background tunes and a Tipi tent for good measure. This roadside motel inspired sleepery of the Shelter Social Club’s has shot to hipster stardom for its rustic chic meets 1950s nostalgia style.
3 Words: Knead Baking Company! Every item on their carby menu is worth indulging in and hiked off shortly after. After breakfast, I recommend taking State Route 33, which winds its way through the scenic Los Padres National Forest. After about 15 miles you’ll reach Rose Valley Falls where you can hike along moss and fern trails to the base of the waterfall.
Since California is in a drought keep water pressure expectations in check, but rest assured it’s worth the trek… Bring bug repellant and waterproof gear.
If you’re into the strange/ obscure/ fascinating, don’t miss Ojai Valley Taxidermy. Inspired by Chuck Testa’s viral video we just had to visit his garage to inspect his wares and be regaled by the charismatic owner.
For more off-the-beaten-path finds, try the picnic shop/wine bar Tipple & Ramble, Fig’s for ceramic air plant pods, the perfectly curated, high end In The Field store or shop for home goods at DeKor & Co.
Solid live music, farm-to-table food and a drink menu that can almost compete with Hollywood’s hottest mixology bars make the Deer Lodge required dining. Folksy Americana décor and outdoor fire pits provide a nice venue for inhaling the ridiculously creamy Mac n’Cheese with Baaaaconnnn Bitsssss!
Day 3* in Ojai
If you still haven’t fully de-stressed, start your Sunday at Meditation Mount with a 30-minute guided meditation (8:30am). Hummingbirds buzz around this tranquil compound with 360° views of the Ojai Valley.
Blissed out, make your way back to the Sunday’s Farmer’s Market for a walking-tapas style breakfast, grazing your way from booth to booth accompanied by a live bluegrass band.
Local wildflower honeys and jams, handmade soaps and scented soy candles are good treats to stock up on. Stroll a couple of blocks to Bart’s open-air bookstore to peruse their collection. (The travel section swallowed up a solid 2 hours of my life.)
When your appetite kicks up, tuck into a healthy lunch at Farmer and Cook where the Figgy Stardust Smoothie might just squeeze a delighted ‘Oh, Hi!’ out of you.
On your way back through and out of town you’ll pass by Summer Camp, a shop that took over a former gas station and now sells lifestyle goods and local artists’ pieces. The carefully curated concept store feels like a set location on “Moonrise Kingdom” and the owner Rachel is delightful to chat with.
Time to say goodbye, as we’d like to send you past the Camarillo Premium Outlets on your way back to LA for some discount shopping, obvi. Theory, Joe’s Jeans, Le Creuset’s kitchenware and The North Face are on the hit-list.
PS: In’n Out is located right by the freeway (I-101) entrance. In case you need to offset the weekend’s healthy meals, do it Animal Style!
- Some fancy boho pieces for your nicer dinners
- Workout clothes
- A reusable tote for the farmers market. You don’t want to be that person asking for a bag at every stand… oh no!
- Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac -- delightful poolside reading
- The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman
- Ojai’s Golden Hour, The New York Times