A Weekend in Ojai Through Rose-Colored Glasses
Don't miss the nightly "pink moment" in Ojai. (Photo: Joe Virnig)

A Weekend in Ojai Through Rose-Colored Glasses


Pronounced oh-hi, Ojai is California's ultimate zen getaway.

Situated deep in Ventura Valley just 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, this tiny town is home to fewer than 8,000 people and has long been a sacred pilgrimage for those who believe in its spiritual energy and mystic powers.

Originally settled by the Chumash tribe—who gave it a name meaning "moon"—Ojai is a lush enclave, just south of Los Padres National Forest, surrounded by citrus groves, oak trees, and the Topatopa Mountains.

This is a place to meditate, create, unwind, and get in touch with your spiritual side—a spot where hippie vibes mingle with new age trends for an ideal wellness vacation. And there's no better time to visit than in spring, at the height of pixie (tangerine) season (March through May), when the town is wrapped in the scent of citrus.

Plan a weekend of R&R with organic eats, indulgent spa treatments, bike riding in nature, and a little bit of shopping.

Friday: Head South and Get Zen

Catch some rays and mountain views at the Indigo pool.

(Courtesy of Ojai Valley Inn)

The drive to Ojai from San Francisco is about six hours, so get on the road early to beat the traffic and arrive in time to enjoy the afternoon and evening.

The town has an eclectic mix of stays, ranging in style from quaint to trendy to luxurious. As Ojai and its surrounding areas were affected by the Thomas Fire, the town is currently running an Ojai Love campaign to promote tourism, with 10 participating hotels offering special deals through the end of March. Get 10 percent off your room rate and a $10 donation will be made to those affected by the fires.

Check In

If you're looking for a place that truly represents the serene nature of Ojai, we recommend hanging your hat at the Lavender Inn(starting at $155/night), in the heart of town. Built in 1874 as Ojai's first schoolhouse, this historic bed and breakfast now comprises seven adorable rooms, several with private patios. Pet-friendly, the inn is also set amongst lavender gardens and has a fenced in backyard where Fido can romp, plus complimentary daily breakfast and wine hour, onsite cooking classes, and spa treatments. // If you're looking for a more luxurious option, opt for the Ojai Valley Inn(starting at $324/night), a large resort complete with several restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, a pool with gorgeous views, and an incredible spa. // For something fun and highly instagrammable, the Caravan Outpost(starting at $179/night) offers a collection of 11 beautifully decorated Airstream trailers with boho vibes.

Afternoon: Bliss out at the Spa

You're here to relax, so why wait? Start your trip with an indulgent treatment at one of the town's many spas. You can definitely get pampered at the spas at Ojai Valley Inn and Lavender Inn, but we suggest strolling down to our favorite locale, EarthTonics Studio Spa for an invigorating holistic facial that will leave your complexion radiant. The spa is run by Ojai native Daron Hope, who handcrafts the salon's products with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients. // If you're in the mood for a massage, Body Essentials is another great option for an array of de-stressing and detoxifying body treatments.

Evening: Eat Organic

After freshening up, head out for a casual dinner at Food Harmonics, a health-conscious, completely gluten-free eatery in downtown Ojai. You're on a wellness vaca after all. Opened in 2016, the restaurant serves flavorful vegan, vegetarian, and paleo fare (try the raw vegan pizza!) using ingredients selected for their nutritional and healing value. If the weather's nice, and it always is, take your food to the back patio after ordering at the counter.

Saturday: Ride Around

First, Coffee.

Get an early start with a stroll to Beacon Coffee(211 W. Ojai Ave.), a beloved yet trendy local shop that sources its beans from responsible producers (and also offers classes on best farming practices, brewing fundamentals, and more). Take your latte to go so you can pop into Cattywampus Crafts next door (209 W. Ojai Ave.). The shop has a selection of handcrafted textiles, ceramics, clothing, and accessories.

Late Morning: Say "Om"

Ojai is practically polka dotted with yoga studios. We recommend Hamsa(109 E. El Roblar Dr.), a "movement studio" that offers barre and dance classes in addition to Kundalini, restorative, and Shadow yoga. Sign up for a class you've never taken (hello, Bhangra!) and trust that you'll feel invigorated by shaking up your routine.

Lunch: The It Spot

Farmer and the Cook(339 W. El Roblar Dr.) is one of, if not the most beloved eateries in Ojai. The organic vegetarian market and restaurant, just down the block from Hamsa Studio, is a perfect spot for lunch. Husband-wife duo Steve Sprinkel (the farmer) and Olivia Chase (the cook) use local produce in their creative juices and smoothies and in Mexican-inspired dishes such as the must-order goat cheese and veggie tacos. There's also a huge self-serve salad bar.

Afternoon: Cruise Ojai

It's time to get outdoors and explore the natural beauty of Ojai. Head back downtown to The Mob Shop (110 W Ojai Ave.), where you can rent a bike and, with the direction of the friendly staff, head out on your path. We like to ride through Ojai's east end and then among the local citrus orchards, olive and oak trees, and past the many beautiful homes. In the springtime, you'll smell the pixies—a sweet tangerine native to the region. Sor more adventure, opt for an electric bike that can take you further, into the mountains or over to the coast. Custom tours are also available.

Aperitifs: Chase the Pink Moment

It's time to wind down and find the perfect spot to take in Ojai's famous pink glow—that fleeting moment just before sunset when the mountain range turns the shade of dusty rose. Meditation Mount offers a killer view of this phenomenon, but it's currently closed due to fire damage. Topa Mountain Winery(821 W Ojai Ave) is a solid alternative. Located in the Upper Ojai Valley and surrounded by oaks and redwoods, this vineyard and tasting room promises magical vistas along with glasses of wine made with regional grapes.

Dinner: Italian Food + Craft Cocktails

Osteria Monte Grappa(242 E. Ojai Ave.) serves Northern Italian fare made with local ingredients—sourced mainly from nearby Earth Trine and Rio Gozo farms—and heavy on the seafood. You'll find an extensive menu of freshly baked breads, homemade pasta, hearty salads, and artisanal pizzas—there's even an option for gluten-free crust. // Head over to Azu(457 E. Ojai Ave.) for after-dinner drinks. The Mediterranean-style restaurant is great for dinner, but also has an extensive list of cocktails that make excellent use of local citrus and small-batch spirits.

Sunday: Shopping and Strolling

Breakfast: Farmers Market Goodness

Sunday mornings mean one thing: a trip to the Ojai Farmers Market(300 E. Matilija St.). One of the best in the state, this small but mighty market is open rain or shine from 9am to 1pm. Bring your tote to fill up on locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and wildflowers as well as handmade goods such as honey and candles. Enjoy a laidback vibe and performances.

Late morning: Stroll Through Town

Today is all about exploring Ojai by foot, the best way to discover the town's eclectic mix of beautiful boutique stores. Pop into Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods(211 E. Matilija St.), an iconic little market founded in 1986. // Sample the house-made bevvies at Revel Kombucha Brewery(307 E. Matilija St.) // From there, walk over to Tipple & Ramble (315 N Montgomery St.), the ultimate picnic supply shop inside a quaint Spanish-style house. The place is stocked with everything from home decor and barware to wine and cheese—and the patio with the vintage trailer-slash-wine-bar is a must-hang on pretty days. // At boho-chic In the Field(730 E Ojai Ave.), shop for everything from Aesop body products to vintage denim, tees, and ceramics. // Elemental Apothecary(201 N. Ventura St.) is an enchanting new shop specializing in organic, small-batch herbal remedies, from CBD to Chinese herbs and tinctures. The store also hosts visiting practitioners and classes, including tarot readings, pulse analysis, energy alignment. and more. // Finally, you can't miss Bart's Books(302 W. Matilija St.), one of the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstores in the country. Spend time wandering and treasure diving in the open-air aisles.

Lunch: Flight of Fancy

Truly, you shouldn't leave Ojai without lunching at The Nest(401 E Ojai Ave.). Opened in late 2017, it's already made quite an impression. Here coowner Kiona Wachter puts a modern spin on her father's original restaurant, The Nest of Ojai. It's a fast-casual hangout with ample outdoor seating and a lighthearted menu of cauliflower tacos, rice bowls, bao buns, and Korean wings. The perfect send off from Ojai.

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