You won’t stumble upon Ojai -- in fact, you’ll need your GPS to get there. Tucked away in a valley north of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara, this small town is the ideal antidote to busy city life. Life moves at a leisurely pace here. Visitors can expect to stop in the shops along Ojai Avenue, sip some local wine, explore the surrounding hills on foot, or just chill out at a spa. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll go home more relaxed and ready to face the week.
Things To Do In Ojai
Ojai may be relaxing, but it also offers a nice range of activities for visitors. If you’re looking for an active weekend, then you’ll be satisfied. But if you prefer two days of downtime, this is also the place for you.
Try The Local Wine
This is one of California’s smaller wine regions, but that means it’s far less busy than the better-known areas. There are a handful of local wineries offering a fun and casual wine tasting experience.
If you’d like to sip wine while playing games, head to Topa Mountain Winery, located just outside downtown Ojai. Start in the tasting room and work your way through a selection of Topa’s red and white wines. Then stroll outside to play cornhole or Connect Four. If you’re here on a weekend, you’ll enjoy live music and food trucks.
The Ojai Vineyard has been producing wine for over three decades. Their methods of winemaking were honed in the Burgundy and Rhone Valley regions of France. Stop by their tasting room, where you’ll find 300 wines available for purchase or to enjoy on the premises.
If you prefer natural wines, be sure to head to the Casa Barranca Tasting Room, the first certified organic winery in the Santa Barbara region.
Browse For Books
Bookstore aficionados must head to Bart’s Books, the largest independent outdoor bookstore in the United States. Yes, you read that right -- it’s outdoors. In fact, if you select a book from the shelves lining the outside walls, you’ll pay on the honor system. But Bart’s also sells rare and out-of-print books. Founded in 1964, this store continues to attract locals wanting to read at one of the patio tables as well as visitors eager to see a unique attraction.
Hit The Trails
The Topatopa Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to everything in Ojai, as well as a scenic hiking destination. As the trails wind up into the foothills, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the valley below.
One of the most popular hikes in the area is Shelf Road, an easy-to-moderate trail that’s also dog friendly. There is no parking lot, so be prepared to grab a spot along the road leading to the trailhead. On weekends, be sure to get there early.
If you’re feeling like a challenge, take the Fox Canyon Trail, an offshoot of Shelf Road. Be ready for some steep switchbacks along this trail.
If you’re hoping for some wildlife sightings, try the Cozy Dell Loop, just a bit outside downtown Ojai. Be ready for a good workout, since the first half of the trail is uphill. You’ll find parking in a turnout on the left side of the road near the Friend’s Ranches packinghouse.
Go For A Bike Ride
Whether you’re looking for a reasonably easy bike ride along a paved route or want to head into the mountains for something more challenging, you’ll find both in Ojai.
Formerly a railroad, the Ojai Valley Trail is a fairly flat route starting in Ojai and ending 9 miles away in Ventura. It’s also easy to explore the city streets on a bike.
Ojai offers 64 miles of mountain biking trails ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. Beginners should check out Sulphur Mountain, while Gridley will give more experienced cyclists a great ride.
Many of the hotels in the area make bicycles available for their guests. But if you need to rent a bike, head to The Mob Shop.
Hop In The Saddle
If hiking and biking are a bit too active for you, consider a relaxing and scenic horseback ride through the Ventura River Valley or Enchanted Forest. The Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company offers guided hour-long rides for beginners and 2-hour rides for those with experience.
Relax At The Spa
Ojai has long been known for its spas. So after hiking, biking, or horseback riding your way around town, be sure to book some time at one of the local spas.
For the ultimate luxury spa experience, make an appointment at Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn. Here you’ll have your choice of two pools, five whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and several relaxation rooms. They also offer some unique treatments, including a wine and rose body wrap, mindful pedicure, and Ojai body polish. And just in case you needed more exercise, there is also a fitness center offering a full schedule of mind-and-body classes.
Where To Eat In Ojai
Ojai does not lack for good food. You’ll find plenty of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you want to fuel up for an active day, head to Bonnie Lu’s for a big plate of pancakes or a plate of bacon and eggs. This classic diner is popular with both locals and visitors, so be prepared for a wait on the weekends.
Ojai Beverage Company
If you’re craving a really good burger for lunch, then Ojai Beverage Company will not disappoint. Don’t be turned off by the fact that the restaurant is located in the back of a liquor store. Instead, take some time to appreciate the large number of beers in the cooler as well as the hundreds of local wines for sale. And to make your lunch truly perfect, pair it with one of the dozens of beers available on tap.
For lunch or dinner, head to Azu, which serves up California cuisine with Spanish and Mexican flavors. In addition to a nice selection of wine and beer, they also offer a creative menu of craft cocktails. While the food and drinks will certainly please the adults in your party, the setting is comfortable and casual enough for the grandkids, too.
Osteria Monte Grappa
If you’re craving an Italian dinner during your weekend in Ojai, head to Osteria Monte Grappa. Their housemade pastas are delightful. If you prefer something lighter, try the daily fish.
Where To Shop In Ojai
If retail therapy is what you’re looking for, Ojai certainly delivers. Spend a few hours strolling along Ojai Avenue and its tiny side streets, exploring the dozens of boutiques.
Treasures Of Ojai
Treasures of Ojai offers a large selection of vintage and antique wares. Fifteen vendors are located under one roof, selling jewelry, clothing, home goods, furniture, and more.
For an assortment of home goods, ceramics, and plants, head to Summer Camp. The subtle color palette of the store and its products will add to your relaxed weekend mood. Many of the products for sale are made by local artisans.
Crafters will want to visit Cattywampus Crafts, a shop dedicated to the makers of handcrafted items. You’ll find many goods by local artists as well as a large space for classes. Check out the schedule of classes, including weaving, knitting, sewing, and floral design.
Tipple & Ramble
Tipple & Ramble describes itself as a picnic and patio shop and is the ideal place to go if you’re looking for some outdoor decor. You’ll find picnic baskets, barware, games, and much more. And while you’re there, take a seat and order a glass of wine and a charcuterie board at the cafe.
Where To Stay In Ojai
There are accommodations in Ojai to suit all budgets and tastes. And whether you’re looking for a romantic setting just for two or someplace that can accommodate a group, you’ve got options.
Ojai Valley Inn
If you’re seeking luxury, look no further than the Ojai Valley Inn. This 220-acre oak-filled resort offers its guests a golf course, spa, tennis courts, multiple pools, and several restaurants. For something especially romantic, reserve one of the fireplace rooms or suites.
Ojai also offers a unique glamping experience at Caravan Outpost. Spaced throughout the beautifully landscaped grounds are 11 Airstreams of varying sizes. Each features retro decor including record players, records, and paperback books. In the evening, guests are invited to gather around the fireplace.
Ojai Rancho Inn
For something more affordable offering rustic charm, head to Ojai Rancho Inn. Enjoy a stroll through the tranquil garden that connects to the Ojai Valley Trail. Borrow one of the bikes for a ride, or relax by the pool.
The summer is definitely peak season in Ojai, but thanks to Southern California’s weather, you can enjoy a visit here at almost any time of the year. If time permits just an overnight stay, you’ll certainly enjoy the relaxing vibes of Ojai, but do try and stay longer to fully appreciate all that this town has to offer.