Wow, Ojai (pronounced oh hi) has changed so much in just the last few years and is so much livelier than it used to be! There is so much to do and see there now. My grandparents lived there in the 80s and early 90s and my Mom and I would drive up there on the weekends. Only a few years ago, we would drive up for a day trip, and I don’t want to say there wasn’t much to do, but really, there wasn’t much to do aside from eat at Boccali’s, stop in at Bart’s, and shop at “old lady shops” along the Arcade. But now there are a ton of restaurant choices and “younger” lady shops!The drive from Los Angeles to Ojai is just over an hour, but I like to make a road trip out of my trip, long or short, so if you plan to drive to Ojai from Los Angeles, I’ve got some great stops for you along the way:Stop and pick up some Avocado or Eucalyptus Honey at Bennett’s Honey Farm!The corn nuts and dried fruit at Francisco’s Fruits is the best! Not to mention the fresh fruit and avocado prices!My mom and I used to stop at the Filmore Fish Hatchery to feed the fish. I LOVED it then and I still do! And be sure to check out Lost and Found Antiques in Fillmore. It’s a great eclectic mess and I love it!
And I haven’t personally visited the Ojai Olive Oil Company, so if you go, let me know your thoughts.
Oh, and if you’re coming in from Los Angeles along Highway 150, be sure to keep an eye out for Edith’s Walnut Factory with her Sally Jesse Raphael glasses! I don’t think there’s a open Walnut Factory, but the sign painted on the side of the farm is awesome!Planning to stay overnight? Ojai has some great places to choose from!
The Mister and I stayed at the Ojai Rancho Inn – think Summer Camp meets Hipster Chic.We only stayed one night (on a Monday night) at the Ojai Rancho Inn, but it was quiet, clean, and the bed was comfortable. Be sure to check out the office and it’s amazing little shop with goodies from Gravel and Gold (the Mister bought me a Boob Shirt and I LOVE IT!). And if you’re braver than me, you can take one of their complimentary bikes out for a spin. I hate biking on streets with cars, but Ojai has miles of bike paths, so if I can figure out how to get the bike to a bike path without becoming a hood ornament, I’m down for some biking!But if the Ojai Rancho Inn is too “overnight campy” for you, there’s always the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, more of a luxurious getaway with a golf course, or the Capri Hotel, a renovated MCM hotel with an awesome sign.
And if you would like to do some shopping, I’ve got some awesome spots for you!
First of all, do not skip a trip to Bart’s Books, the place is fucking amazing! It’s an outdoor bookstore! Right? How does that work?!? They say the most damage they receive is sun damage, not rain damage (Hello California Drought!) and we finally happened to stop by on a rainy day and got a chance to see what they do to protect the books … which is pretty much nothing! And those outside books? When the bookstore closes (closing time is sundown), those books are still for sale using the Honor System. Oh! And I found one of my mom’s old high school yearbooks. She might kill me for including one of the photos. And be sure to check out the kitchen. It’s full of … cookbooks!One of my newest favorite shops? Summer Camp! What an amazing curation of vintage Americana and handmade goods!It’s located in a renovated gas station and I pretty much wanted to buy everything there!Another new favorite is Modern Folk Living. Again, great curation of women’s clothing and handmade fun stuffs!And last, but not least is Fig Curated Living for some great home and garden finds.And here are a few shops that I haven’t yet visited, but I’ve heard good things about:
And last but not least, some good eats!
My favorite restaurant is Boccali’s. Great Italian food, amazing Strawberry Shortcake when it’s in season, and great atmosphere!And this last visit, we went to the Deer Lodge for dinner. It’s biker bar meets farm to table restaurant, and unfortunately the night we went to dinner, it was also a movie set, so I can’t say anything stellar about the service. But the food was great, with the exception of too much parmesan on the White Truffle Parmesan Fries. They were good for a minute, but ultimately too much cheesiness. Also, make a reservation. One would think a reservation would be unnecessary when having dinner on a Monday night in Ojai, but if it’s a chilly Monday night and you don’t want to freeze to death on the “heated” patio, make a reservation.
And here’s a couple of other places which I have not been to yet, so please let me know what you think if you go:
And let’s be honest, I’m not one for meditation, but if that’s your thing, Ojai is the place to do it, so here’s some of the hippy dippy places Ojai has to offer: