OJAI, about an hour outside Los Angeles, gorgeous sunsets, chill vibes, great shopping, natural hot springs, live music outdoors under a tree. Yes, please. Here is one of the things that makes Ojai so magical- when you first ride down the main street, Ojai Avenue, you are almost left wondering, “What’s the big deal?” But like anything worth having, if you work a little for it, you find out just how magical it is…
We drove up the 101 on a Sunday morning listening to Ray LaMontagne’s album Supernova. Especially the song, “Ojai”. We hit the 33 north towards sweet Ojai and passed signs as we drove in to town that read “Birthplace of Johnny Cash”. Of course we had to then turn on some Johnny Cash! We continued driving for about 10 miles and boom, we arrived! So easy, and only about an hour from L.A. which makes it the perfect day trip or weekend away. I had done the weekend away here, but today was a girl’s-only-day-trip.
As we made our way in to town, it was still morning and we headed over to the Sunday farmer’s market. The produce was stunning. I did not have my phone with me but I wish I did because there were so many colorful fruits and vegetables. I feel sad I did not get pics-but so worth going. One of my favorite things I found there was a wreath crafted out of rosemary. I love the smell of rosemary and I think I want to try and make one for my home. My aunt has huge rosemary bushes at her house. Project inspiration! The other was an amazing linen and flax bag that kept fruits and vegetables fresh for weeks! I loved that it was not plastic or metal, but organic linen that was keeping things fresh. It works amazingly! It is one of my favorite buys ever. We also purchased fresh bunches of lavender, a box of fresh made macaroons, the best chile cheese tamales, and our favorite- a bag of Centri Coffee. We plan to make our own cold brew. They use to make and bottle theirs, but not anymore… so now we try! We walked across the street from the market and got some iced coffee from Java and Joe- I had a rose mocha that did not disappoint.
Next…the wondrous In the Field. There is so much magic in there. It is on the main strip, on Ojai Avenue down a ways. It’s a freestanding brick and mortar which I love even more. Surrounded by bougainvillea and huge succulents. So the epitome of California. As you walk in to the left there is men’s clothes, and to the right is women’s, kitchen and children’s. Everything is so beautifully curated. Pottery that is the minimal, handmade perfection of my dreams. My must-have necklace is there. And the most perfect Ulla Johnson pieces! I will take one of everything. We’re especially dreaming of the amazing selection of summer hats!
From there we went to Summer Camp. Makes me smile just thinking about it. It is in a converted gas station and has the most chill vibe to it. I had so much fun walking around. I loved the paint by number oil paintings of landscapes, the palo santo wood, palo santo incense sticks came home with me, along with an “Oh, hi.” postcard and the cutest prickly cactus card from Small Adventure. So simply and perfectly curated-making it easy to shop and fun to peruse. The owner was there and he was so kind and friendly. I always really appreciate that when I am venturing in to a new store.
Next we hopped over to Bart’s Books. It is a hallowed out house that is now filled wall to wall with used books. It was so fun looking through all the rooms-each a different theme. I spent some time in the art room browsing art history books, and always love looking for Neruda poetry books, as well as in the “kitchen” full of what else, cookbooks!
We then made a quick stop at Fig Curated Living. And it is such a fun store. You feel like you are crawling back into a mole hole filled with all kinds of treasures ready for you to discover. One of my favorite things was this fun horseshoe wall decor that had been wrapped in colorful yarn. It inspired me to want to recreate my own!
Now we were ready for lunch! We headed to Ojai Valley Inn- We sat outside on the patio at Jimmy’s and had the best salmon. We listened to bluegrass being played under the big oak tree while lanterns swayed in the wind. Next time we will be participating in the all you can drink Bloody Mary’s - thank you.
In the evening, “a must” is taking in “The Pink Moment”, which is when the sun is setting and you can catch amazing views where the sky glows gorgeous hues of pink. The perfect place to take it in is Meditation Mount. Free to go to, just park and walk down to the viewing area. Bring a coat cause it gets chilly and a blanket to sit on and just absorb the peaceful zen of the prettiest sunset views ever.
This time however we watched sitting under the big old oak, under the glowing lanterns as the sky turned a beautiful vibrant shade of pink. The perfect way to end a day in Ojai.
From previous visits other must mention locations:
Casa Ojai was a nice, simple, clean little hotel that offered a continental breakfast in the morning, yoga am +pm, bikes to ride and a wine tasting for 2 for each nights stay. All at a very affordable price.
Ojai Beverage Company is on Ojai Avenue. From the outside it looks like a liquor store in a strip mall. But once you walk in, like so many other things we discovered in Ojai, it was so good. Wall to wall alcohol and very knowledgeable staff. We came in looking for a specific hard to find beer and they had it and he knew exactly where to find it for us. While we were there we had our wine tasting. They also have some amazing truffle oil macaroni and cheese if you are having a vacay day and want to enjoy.
Second Helping Thrift Store for a bit of thrift shopping. Now this is not my norm or my comfort zone. But we wondered in as it is also on Ojai Avenue. At first I just stood near the front of the store not really wanting to go in. But decided I would at least go take a look at some housewares stacked on a shelf near me. I found these beautiful Nambé round platters for $8 each and they retail at around $90, so score. Excited by my find I decided to look around a bit more and found this perfect white pottery planter for a maiden fern plant I plan to buy. Not sure I love thrifting but I do love the beautiful items I found.
The Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room for wine sipping.
Nocciola to dine al fresco. When we went the moon was bright and looked like parchment paper! Amazing! I started with cauliflower soup and then salmon. (love salmon) Both very good. Dessert was cannolis and this tiny decadent chocolate cake to share. All I have to say is “Take the gun, leave the cannolis”.
Ojai’s natural hot springs. It is about a 20 minute drive out of town up a winding steep road. And it is a bit of a process to get too. It is not open to the public but such a cool experience. There were little bright red and blue dragon flies flying all around and you could hear the breeze in the trees. It was very peaceful and very magical. Next time I want to stop along the road and pick dried wildflowers and sage.
What are your favorite Ojai moments?