Best of Ojai, California: Where to Stay, Shop, Eat and Top Things to Do
April 12, 2023
Looking for a weekend getaway that is not too far from LA? Well, pack your bags and head to Ojai, California! This charming town is only an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles, but it feels like a world away. Trust me; you won’t regret it!
Here is everything you need to know to make the most out of your trip to beautiful Ojai.
Why you should visit Ojai?
Ojai is a small town in Ventura County, known for its tranquil atmosphere, natural beauty, and local energy. The town is surrounded by mountains, and it feels like one of those perfect little places you see in Hallmark movie. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind while you enjoy a girl’s trip or a romantic weekend.
You’ll notice one consistent theme: emphasis on LOCAL, which is awesome!
The town has a unique vibe that attracts artists, writers, and people who are interested in wellness. It’s quaint and doesn’t have much of a night-life scene, so just soak in the nature and enjoy the slow pace. This makes Ojai a great destination for a romantic getaway and relaxing weekend.
Although California stays relatively warm year-round, the best time to visit Ojai is spring to fall when the weather is warmest. You’ll also be able to pick lavender (more to come about this!) and potentially visit a festival.
Keep in mind that a lot of the local businesses close on Mondays and Tuesdays, so it’s best to plan a trip over a weekend or later in the week.
Places to Stay
First things first, let’s talk about where to stay in Ojai.
The Capri Hotel is a really fun and unique hotel located near downtown that has a retro chic vibe.
Ojai Rancho Inn gives a really cute farm vibe! The rooms feature wood walls and they also have a room with a spa tub. There is an outdoor pool, sauna, and a garden for guests to enjoy. The common spaces are cozily decorated and this property has a romantic, laid back energy that is perfect for a couples trip.
If you’re looking for a unique and Instagram-worthy place to stay in Ojai, check out Caravan Outpost. It especially reminds me of glamping in an Airstream at Autocamp Yosemite! They offer a tiny home or several renovated trailers/caravans. Each trailer has been renovated with a modern twist, and the attention to detail is impressive. The park also has communal fire pits, bikes to borrow, and even an outdoor movie screen for a cozy night under the stars. It’s a fun and adventurous way to experience Ojai. Plus, it’s just a short walk from downtown, making it a convenient base for exploring.
Image via caravanoutpostojai.com
If you want to splurge, I recommend staying at the Ojai Valley Inn, which is one of the most popular options. This stunning resort has everything you could want, from a world-class spa to a championship golf course. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and many have stunning views of the surrounding mountains. However this luxury resort comes at luxury prices, averaging about $600/night! But if you’re wanting to unwind someone fabulous, this could be your place.
Things to do in Ojai
Ojai is a small town, but there are plenty of things to do!
Did you know that Ojai is home to the largest outdoor bookstore in the world?
Book-lover or not, you have to check out this Bart’s Books! It’s charming and ABSOLUTELY FILLED with so many incredible books.
Of course I immediately look for the cookbooks (food is always on my mind), and it took me a while to find them. But when I finally wandered into the kitchen inside the building, it made a lot of sense why they would store them there!
Visit the Ojai Valley Museum
This small museum is a great way to learn about the history of the town and the surrounding area.
Hours: open most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Cost: Free with a suggested donation of $5 per adult and $1 per child.
Take a Hike
Ojai has some of the best hiking trails in Southern California, so make sure to bring your hiking boots! If you need recommendations, check out my favorite Day Hiking Essentials.
One of the best hiking trails is the Shelf Road Trail. This 2-mile hike offers stunning views of the Ojai Valley and the surrounding mountains.
Another great option is the Rose Valley Falls Trail, a 1.6-mile hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall.
Explore the town / Shop
Ojai has a cute downtown area that is perfect for strolling around. There are many art galleries, boutiques, and cafes to check out.
Fig Curated Living had a lot of unique clothes, home decor and plants. So it’s definitely worth a stroll around their shop!
Go Wine Tasting
The Ojai Valley is home to many great wineries. Be sure to stop by the Casa Barranca Organic Winery Tasting Room on Main Street for a tasting of their delicious local wines.
Bike the Ojai Valley Trail
One of the most popular attractions is the Ojai Valley Trail. This 9-mile bike path winds through the scenic Ojai Valley, offering stunning views of the mountains and countryside. But if you don’t have a bike, don’t worry – there are several bike rental shops in town.
Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market
This market, held every Sunday morning, features locally grown produce, artisanal crafts, and live music. Undeniably, it’s a great place to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies for a picnic lunch, or to grab a unique local souvenir to take home with you.
Visit a Local Farm
Ojai is known for its agriculture, so you should definitely visit a farm in the area that offer tours and tastings.
A popular choice is the Ojai Olive Oil Company, where you can take a tour of the olive grove and learn about the production process. But the best part? You get to taste the olive oil!
Pick your own lavender at Frog Creek Farms starting in late June. The lavender bundles are $10 each and you pick it yourself. You can also sip lavender lemonade and take beautiful photos!
Another great option is the Friend’s Ranch, where you can pick your own oranges and taste the freshest fruit you’ve ever had. They specialize in avocados, honey, and citrus. It’s a fun and unique way to experience Ojai’s agricultural heritage, and you’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for the hard work that goes into producing the delicious fruits and vegetables we all enjoy! You can also find Friend’s Ranch at the Sunday Farmer’s Market.
We were fortunate to visit the farm of a friend who shepherds sheep and goats. The farm is not open regularly for public tours, but it’s really fascinating to see how they are working to support ecosystem health, shepherd training, and climate-beneficial fire prevention! Check out Shepherdess Land & Livestock to learn more.
We had a great time meeting the animals and soaking in the beautiful Ojai views on a beautiful sunny day!
Catch the “Pink Moment”
Ojai is known for a popular phenomenon called the Pink Moment. We weren’t able to see it on our trip due to clouds, but I heard it’s a magic sight that both locals and visitors flock to various viewpoints to catch a glimpse of.
What is the pink moment in Ojai?
This natural occurrence happens every evening around sunset, when the mountains surrounding Ojai turn a stunning shade of pink.
One of the best places to view the Pink Moment is Meditation Mount. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply appreciate a beautiful sunset, catching the Pink Moment is a part of the Ojai experience you won’t want to miss.
Taste Local Honey
Heavenly Honey Company offers tastings of their local honey selections. They even have unique flavors like sage, buckwheat, avocado blossom, and wild blackberry honey!
Where to Eat in Ojai
Now, let’s talk about food (my favorite part!). Ojai has some amazing restaurants. Here are some of the best Ojai restaurant, bars, and breweries and my personal favorites.
The culinary star of the trip was an incredible dinner at The Dutchess. This place was insanely good and delivered on so many levels! The Dutchess joined the Michelin Guide list in 2022, and was very well-deserved!
The dinner menu is Burmese-Californian focused, which offers a unique twist on local flavors. We went for dinner, but they also have serve a more traditional breakfast and quick-service pastries and coffee, which looked amazing.
Fitting with the Ojai-style, the restaurant focuses on local ingredients and showcasing the local farmers. In fact, they even featured Dylan’s lamb from the farm that we visited that afternoon! We ordered several items family-style to share, and every item was phenomenal!
Definitely DO NOT MISS this incredible spot.
Ojai Coffee Roasters
For coffee, Ojai Coffee Roasters is located downtown and has been serving small-batch, local coffee since 1995. They also feature local pastries, they showcase art from nearby artists, and they donate to the local schools and non-profits.
Topa Topa Brewing Co
Topa Topa is a great spot for sipping local beer on their patio on a nice day. You can order a flight to taste several different delicious beers.
The vibe was relaxed and easy, and the entire tap house is dog-friendly. I loved seeing different people gather there, either for a meeting, working on their laptops or just chatting. This is definitely a place where I could have spent hours. They take pride in creating a welcoming vibe, and you could tell!
Ojai Beverage Company
Not only does Ojai Beverage Company have a large selection of wine, beer and liquor to shop, they have a bar and restaurant in the back with a large, versatile menu. We ordered the fried pickles which were great and perfect for sharing!
They had several drink specials running including wine flights, whiskey flights, beer specials, and a specialty cocktail feature at great prices. This is a great spot to pick up a few bottles to take home after you enjoy a nice lunch or afternoon drink.
A few more options I want to check out next time:
Nocciola – an Italian restaurant with a cozy atmosphere in a renovated house and handmade pasta dishes
The Nest – A chill, outdoor spot with an impressive cocktail menu and Sunday brunch. They also have a general store attached with local Ojai products.
Ojai Rotie – A local favorite specializing in French-Lebanese style rotisserie chicken
What are you adding to your Ojai travel list?
Ojai is a wonderful destination for a weekend trip. With its beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, delicious food, and unique places to stay, it’s the perfect place to relax and recharge. So book your trip and soak it in – you won’t be disappointed.
Do you have other Ojai favorites I missed? Let me know in the comments!
Plate & Compass is a food and travel blog written by Hannah Falkosky. After quitting her job and spending 8 weeks in Europe on just a few thousand dollars, she found her love for budget travel and sharing tips to help others explore the world.
She also spent 15 years working with award-winning chefs and developed a love for artful food and cocktails. Hannah is now based out of Los Angeles, and when she’s not traveling she makes it her mission to explore the best restaurants and cocktail bars while living life to the fullest.