Whether it’s the protective cocoon of the half moon-shaped valley of the Topa Topa Mountains or the metaphysical draw of the alleged Ojai spiritual vortex, there’s no doubt that this small town (population 8,000) is a place where your inner hippie can mind-meld with your treasure hunter. Add to that a farm-to-table foodie culture where the wine is divine and the produce fresh, plus natural beauty like epic pink sunsets, and you’ve got a destination that offers one neat package where urbanites can unwind without missing any of the comforts of home.
In an age of e-books and Amazon, Ojai is a town for book lovers. Founded in 1964 by Richard Bartinsdale, this outdoor book menagerie— with reading nooks throughout—stocks everything from cookbooks to classics with a big California history section. Bibliophiles beware: You’ll want to linger for hours, so plan your day accordingly.
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
This sprawling historic property boasts Ojai’s classic Spanish Mission Revival architecture (some buildings were designed by legendary architect Wallace Neff). But its old-school golf-club sensibility is more in tune with the AARP crowd than the burgeoning Ojai renaissance. Since it’s the only luxury game in town, no one should be opposed to the sweeping mountain views or a relaxing day at the spa.
If the clementine-infused vodka (Ojai-cello) doesn’t get you in the door, then how about a California version of Gin & Juice with tangerine, grapefruit, and a splash of soda? While this is a full-service restaurant, bar seats are best to watch the natives eat, drink, and be merry. Don’t miss the bacon-wrapped dates or the sumptuous seafood paella. Did we mention the house-made gelato?
Ojai Olive Oil Ranch
Up a winding dirt road at the east end of the Ojai valley is a grove of olive trees, some of which were planted in the late 19th century. Take a tour of this family-owned, family-operated farm to learn about their permaculture practices…and meet their pet wolf. The piquant tasting oils are fresh-pressed in small batches, pure, and individually packaged in counter-display-worthy cobalt blue bottles. They’ll make any salad sing.
Check out more cool things to buy, visit, eat, and do in the new issue of Naturally, Danny Seo. Out Now.