Ojai is the perfect (but often forgotten) weekend getaway for Los Angelenos. The drive up from LA takes 2 hours, which is nothing compared to the cumulative traffic you sit in during the work week. It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and provides an all-encompassing experience of the natural beauty that is Ojai Valley.
The city of Ojai is located in Ventura County and is a true gem amongst the other towns nearby. It has a population of 7,500 and the entirety of Ojai Valley is 10 miles long and 3 miles wide – very quaint! With the nickname “Shangri-La”, Ojai is known for its gorgeous outdoor scenery, healthy food, and delicious wine. The Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect place for fruit and vegetable farms, which you will notice take up a decent chunk of the hills surrounding the town.
Ojai is a special place that I hold near and dear to my heart. I’ve only been a handful of times but plan on becoming a regular visitor in the near future. Whenever I spend a weekend in Ojai, I return home in a very relaxed and happy state – Ojai is a personal stress reliever for me and a serene alternative to Los Angeles life. From long bike rides along the Ojai Valley trail to hikes in Los Padres National Forest, Ojai provides plentiful opportunities to spend time outdoors.
Whether you’re going for a day trip or for a longer stay, here are 5 notable things to do in Ojai:
1. Wander around Ojai Avenue
Ojai Avenue is the main street of Ojai and offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars for locals and tourists alike. Ojai Ave spans 4 miles and is easily walkable; there are an incredible amount of shops, wine rooms, antique and thrift stores, and restaurants for you to visit.
If you’re an avid foodie like me, you’ll most definitely make a few stops on your Ojai Avenue stroll. Here are some not to miss spots if you feel like grabbing a bite to eat or a few drinks with friends:
- Ojai Tortilla House: Don’t let the size of this place deter you. This tiny, family-run Mexican joint has a limited menu but uses ingredients that will make you want to come back for more. Ojai Tortilla House is insanely cheap and delicious – if you order the burrito you might need a quick nap before continuing your Ojai exploration 😉
- The Ojai Beverage Co.: Part beer store, part restaurant, part bar, Ojai Beverage Co. is a great place to browse if you’re looking to grab a beer or two to go. Wander to the back and take a seat in their restaurant area if you’re in the mood for a hearty dinner. Their mac and cheese dish is drizzled in truffle oil and insanely delicious!
- Casa Barranca Tasting Room: Ojai has a very extensive wine scene that covers the entire valley, but the Casa Barranca Tasting Room is one of our favorites because it’s conveniently located right on Ojai Avenue close to our other favorite spots. The tasting room is open from 1-6 pm and offers a variety of organic wines. If you’re in the mood to try a selection of their wines, order a curated flight – for only $15 you can taste 5 wines (the pours are heavier than just a taste) to get a true sampling of what Casa Barranca has to offer. Note: Casa Barranca produces more reds than whites, so if you’re not a red wine drinker go for a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc instead of the flight.
- Beacon Coffee Co.: This is hands down one of my favorite establishments in Ojai, and the one and only cafe I recommend to all of my friends traveling to Ojai. Beacon Coffee Co. not only serves delicious coffee beverages, but they also have a variety of delicious pastries like almond croissants, muffins, frittatas, donuts and scones that they make in-house (you can taste the freshness). Start your day by ordering a flat white and almond croissant (ask your barista to heat up the croissant), and post up in a corner of Beacon Coffee Co. to soak in the beautiful interior. Then wander over to Cattywampus Crafts right next door to admire the rows of eclectic fabric, craft home goods, and adorable clothing and jewelry. Best. Place. Ever.
- Osteria Monte Grappa: If you’re craving a hearty meal to round out a busy day exploring Ojai, look no further than Osteria Monte Grappa. This Italian restaurant serves yummy rustic Northern Italian fare and will leave you incredibly satisfied. The wait staff are very friendly and always quick to refill bread baskets and wine glasses – don’t be shy to ask questions as they are very knowledgeable about the wine list and menu offerings. This is one of the more popular spots for dinner so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
This walking map of Ojai is very helpful and includes many local delights that are not explored in this post. From Bart’s Books to Libbey Park to a selection of art galleries, there are so many things to discover in downtown Ojai. Everything is accessible by foot or bike, so you will be able to visit many of the local hot spots in just a few hours.
Ojai is known for its farms and wineries but if I had to name a favorite, it would definitely be Ojai Olive Oil Company. Ojai Olive Oil Company is a family run operation with groves dating back 150 years. The road to Ojai Olive Oil Company is windy and gives you a great tour of some scenic farmland which contains loads of fruit trees and a bubbling creek. Upon arriving at Ojai Olive Oil Company you have the option of joining a free tour (which I highly recommend), exploring the grounds, or checking out their shop for a unique tasting experience. The main entrance features a large shaded area with hammocks and benches for you to relax and take in the beauty of the olive trees.
The free tour lasts about 20 minutes and covers everything about the farm, from its history to the methods used to make their delicious olive oil. The best part about the tour is the complimentary tasting at the very end. The tasting room at Ojai Olive Company has a variety of herb-infused olive oils, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil beauty products like soaps and lip balm which are all great souvenirs if you’re looking to bring a piece of Ojai back home with you.
Wine is in abundance in Ojai so we’re highlighting a local brewery to switch things up. Although we already shared some of our favorite food and beverage destinations on Ojai Avenue, this one deserves some recognition of its own. Topa Topa Brewery is located across the street from Osteria Monte Grappa and features a well-rounded tap list that will have you coming back for a second and third round. If you feel like switching things up and going for a beer tasting instead of a wine tasting, this is the spot!
The bartenders at Topa Topa are very knowledgeable and are more than happy to give you samples of what they have on tap. The space features a plethora of games that you can play with your friends while you’re enjoying some brews. If you’re a fan of IPA’s like I am, try a pint of Chief Peak which combines crisp and tropical flavors to create the perfect beverage that’ll most definitely soothe your tired body after wandering around Ojai all day. Note: Take a peek at their calendar for live music and fun event listings.
Los Padres National Forest spans from Ventura to Monterey and extends inland to meet the northmost part of Ojai. There are many hikes that you can embark on during your stay in Ojai, but if you’re looking for one that’s on the moderate side, be sure to check out Rose Valley Falls. Rose Valley Falls is a beautiful 300-foot waterfall (the tallest waterfall in the area) located just a quick ½ mile from Rose Valley Campground. The best part about this hike, aside from the fact that it’s very pleasant, is that you can walk right up to the base of the waterfall. Make sure to wear waterproof clothing if you feel like getting up close and personal, and be cautious that your phone doesn’t get too wet while snapping pics.
If you happen to be in Ojai on a Sunday, make sure to stop by the Ojai Farmer’s Market which runs from 9 am-1 pm in the center of town. Ojai is known for its vast stretches of orange and pixie groves, but this farmer’s market features the best of the Ojai Valley farming community. You can pick up a variety of vegetables, herbs, fresh cut flowers, citrus, olive oil, and organic beauty products handcrafted in the Valley amongst a plethora of other delicious fresh produce and baked goods.
The Ojai Farmer’s Market is a gathering place for the local community and very representative of the city as a whole. You can really get a sense of Ojai’s friendly and tight-knit community by spending some time at this farmer’s market. Thanks to the Ojai Farmer’s Market, I have not only gained a bounty of delicious fruits, veggies, and herbs, but also a newfound appreciation for a city that is now one of my favorite Californian destinations.
After extensive research, I can wholeheartedly say that if you live in Los Angeles and are craving a quick weekend getaway, Ojai is the best place to go. If you are visiting SoCal from out of state or country and are looking to explore a new place, definitely add Ojai to your list. It’s a quick drive to and from our lovely city, and once you experience all that this pleasant town has to offer, you’ll most definitely return again.