For those of us living within the smoggy confines of Los Angeles or Orange County, the need to break away for a weekend of fresh air is a common occurrence.
Hey, sometimes you just need to see a tree that’s not a palm tree.
Searching for somewhere that’s a short drive away from LA, but feels world’s apart from Hollywood, the 405 and South Coast Plaza? Try Ojai.
Sitting in an enchanted little valley just 20 minutes east of Ventura and the Pacific Ocean, Ojai is a bucolic land of vineyards, orange groves, occupied by an attractive mix of hippies and hipsters, offering activities galore for the adventurous weekender.
Here’s what not to miss:
What could be better than a bookstore? An outdoor bookstore, of course! Bibliophiles rejoice, Bart’s is like no bookshop you’ve browsed before. Breathe the fresh air and keep your sunnies on while you meander the airy aisles. Chat with the quirky Ojai hipster clerks while you hunt for your next literary encounter.
Perched high on a hillside, Dennyson Campground offers sweeping views of the Ojai valley and the peaceful solitude of a rustic mountain campground. Arrive early to snag one of the choice campsites along the campground’s perimeter, several which offer perfect tree set ups to hang a hammock. Mix up a cocktail and kick back to enjoy the stars.
If camping isn’t your forte, Ojai offers plenty of trendy boutique hotels and air bnb’s to fit any budget.
Sunset at Meditation Mount
The road to Meditation Mount winds through petite orange groves. Roll down your windows to enjoy the citrus scent, then grab your camera for the eye-popping sunset you’re about to witness. Find your inner zen on a meditative walk through the gardens, then claim your spot on the lawn overlooking the valley. Enjoy the feeling of peaceful serenity as day transitions into evening.
Sip wine grown from local vines, and chat with the friendly sommelier about what makes the Ojai Valley and California’s Central Coast a unique wine region. Drop in early to enjoy a more relaxed tasting –by 3 PM, it can be quite busy.
Sunday morning farmer’s market
Between the improptu sidewalk jam session happening out front and the bundles of colorful flowers, veggies and the scent of fresh-baked bread, this small-town market is hard to beat. Pick up a coffee along the main street, then stroll through the market with enough cash to pick up something delicious.
Ojai Day Spa
Treat yourself to a relaxing day at Ojai Day Spa. Book a treatment to enjoy all-day access, or drop in for $75. Plus, the glamorous poolside at Ojai Valley Inn is hard to beat –find a way in, snag a lounge chair and order a cocktail.
Ridge Road day hike
Work up a sweat with the heart-pounding elevation climb that makes up Ridge Road. A popular hike, expect to see plenty of friendly hikers and locals with dogs out to enjoy the scenery.
With it’s wood and river stone interior, The Deer Lodge is the perfect mix of vintage Americana and grungy cool. Enjoy a satisfying farm-to-table meal made with seasonal ingredients from local farms in a rustic roadhouse-style setting, then head over to the bar for a top-notch cocktail mixed up by one of the hip bartenders. Check the website to see if there’s a show worth sticking around for –evening entertainment runs the gamut from folksy to grinding dubstep.
A note about food: Ojai has quite the foodie scene. If you’re an epicurean, hop over to Yelp to discover a bevy of intriguing eateries scattered around the valley.