There is something truly magical about Ojai, California. This laidback California community, just a 90-minute drive north of Los Angeles, boasts a strong Spanish and Western feel. For decades, it’s served as a haven for artists, writers, bohemians, health enthusiasts, and celebrities looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Upon arrival, you’ll begin to notice its mystical charm, almost like Sedona in Arizona. If hiking/biking, Spanish-style buildings wrapped in bougainvillea, wine tasting and health-conscious eateries are your thing, Ojai will be the perfect weekend retreat for you.
The best part is that it’s less than 1.5 hours away from Los Angeles and only a quick 20 minutes from Ventura and the Pacific coast! I’ve been to Ojai twice, once for camping and once to enjoy the urban magic this town has to offer. And you know what? I’m already itching to go back!
Not much has changed in Ojai over the years and that’s what makes it so special. At first glance, it might look like a sleepy town with nothing much to do. But once you dig a little deeper, you’ll uncover a world of spirituality, relaxation, and pure entertainment. Come bask in the traditional western charm this town has to offer and explore the many things to do in Ojai, California.
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR VISITING OJAI, CALIFORNIA
- Summers will be quite hot in Ojai, so be sure to bring lots of water. Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses.
- Camping is a popular activity near Ojai. If you’re looking to spend a night or two out in nature, Wheeler Gorge is an awesome spot with campsites galore.
- Ojai gets pretty sleepy at night; be sure to grab dinner before 9pm, otherwise, you’ll find hardly anything open. An exception is Ojai Deer Lodge, a cozy restaurant bar that has live music on weekends.
- If you’re planning to go wine tasting, check to see if you need reservations before you go. Topa Topa Winery is a classic, but if you have time for more, also check out Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room and a few others in town.
THINGS TO DO IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
The Ojai Trolley
Chances are when you’re strolling through town, you’re bound to catch a glimpse of the Ojai Trolley at least once during your trip. The Ojai Trolley is a great way to explore the downtown on wheels. If you’re visiting during the summertime, it allows you to get out of the heat while still allowing you to explore the town. The trolley goes all throughout Ojai, Meiners Oaks, and Mira Monte. Fares are $1.50 per ride or $4.00 for an all-day pass.
Explore Downtown Ojai
Downtown Ojai is worth spending an hour or two alone. You’ll know you’re here when you see the Spanish-style bell tower inviting you to the town’s center. It’s a great place to grab a meal or drink and spend some time after a day of hiking or biking. What you’ll notice is that it’s a very arts-centric town filled with great restaurants, wine tasting venues, art galleries, and craft and artisan shops. it’s also a very popular tourist destination. Don’t miss a quick stroll in the local park or the Ojai Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
Browse The Hip Artisan Shops
Whenever I’m in Ojai, I make sure to carve out at least two hours to browse for home goods and artisan gifts. Ojai is jam-packed with cute specialty shops! My favorite shops are Fig, Summer Camp, In The Field, and deKor & Co. Not all of them are located on the same street, so be sure to map them out and stop by.
Ride The Ojai Valley Bike Trail
The Ojai Valley Bike Trail is a 9-mile trail that runs along Highway 33 from the outskirts of West Ventura to Fox Street in Ojai. The paved trail is for cyclists, walkers, joggers, and people with pets. If you’re looking to spend a few hours on wheels out in nature, this is the perfect trail. It’s not too challenging, there’s plenty of shade, and you can complete a one-way leg of the ride in under an hour. Best of all, this trail allows you to ride right to Ventura, park your bike, and spend another few hours exploring this lively coastal town. Once you’re done exploring Ventura, head back to Ojai the way you came.
Hike The Piedra Blanca Formations Trail
If you’re looking to get in a good hike, your best bet will be the Piedra Blanca Formations Trail. This is a fairly easy 2.6-mile hike (out and back) with only a few hills, and the trail is super easy to follow.
Hike At The Valley View Preserve
Looking for more time with the great outdoors? Do not miss the 195-acres of land that make up the Valley View Preserve near downtown Ojai. A walk around the vineyards and orchards on this preserve is a great way to start your day off. Enjoy the fresh air, open space, and birds chirping all around you on the Fox Canyon Trail, Foothill Trail, or Luci’s Trail. You can loop Fox Canyon, Foothill, and Luci’s Trails for a terrific hike.
Visit Meditation Mount
Meditation Mount is a special meditation grounds with a botanical garden overlooking the valley. Founded in 1971, this nonprofit center holds various group meditation sessions and courses while also serving as an open space for visitors to relax and reflect. Meditation Mount is prime for catching Ojai famous “pink moment”—when the mountains and sky turn pink every night at sunset. So if a morning meditation session isn’t your thing, time your visit around sunset and don’t forget to bring your camera.
One of my favorite things to do in small towns is to check out the local secondhand shops. You really never know what treasures you’ll find! Antique lovers and bargain-hunters will find plenty to marvel over at Treasures of Ojai on Signal St. A few steps away, you’ll find a few other thrift shops including 2nd Helpings Thrift Store, The Lennon Closet, and Gratitude Vintage & Thrift located on E Ojai Ave. There’s also Pink Thrift Store and St. Thomas Aquinas Thrift Store.
Topa Mountain Winery
If you’re looking to relax, unwind and enjoy some good wine, Topa Mountain Winery is the place. Enjoy your tasting flight in the lounge area of the Tasting Room or in the outdoor seating areas where you can enjoy the scenic gardens. You are allowed to bring your own picnics and coolers, so while the tasting flights are on the pricier side, packing your own food will cut down on the overall costs. The property is located along the Ojai Valley Bike Trail, which makes it a great place to stop for lunch and wine tasting before continuing on your journey! Stop by on Saturdays and Sundays for live music.
If you’re looking for another picturesque environment for wine tasting, check out Old Creek Ranch Winery located a few minutes outside of town. You’ll get to sample great wines in a beautiful, relaxing rural setting.
Ojai Farmers Market
Ojai Certified Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. On any given weekend, it’s always alive with music, interesting people, and of course, great food to sample and purchase. As it’s located downtown, it’s easy to meander through town when you’re done exploring the market.
Shop At In The Field
If you’re looking for the epitome of tasteful hipster goods, look no further. I always visit this store every time I’m in town, and so do many other visitors. You’ll get it once you stop by for your first time. It’s absolutely gorgeous and homey inside. Within its walls, you’ll find a few different rooms carrying a mix of new and curated vintage clothing for men and women, jewelry, kids’ items, and a fantastic range of homewares.
Wachter Hay & Grain
Wachter’s Hay & Grain is an absolute hidden gem. If you’re in the area, stop by for a quick browse. If you need supplies for your pets and horses, this is the place to get that. But that’s not all! Aside from the feeding supplies, you’ll find an outdoor section selling pots and planters, outdoor furniture, etc. There is also an indoor treasure trove of home decor items, architectural pieces, and quirky things that make for a great browsing experience.
Visit A Lavender Farm
Head to one of Ojai’s seasonal lavender farms in the summertime to pick your own lavender bundles and enjoy the fragrant air for a few moments. You can choose from Frog Creek Farm (larger, draws more crowds) or Ojai Lavender Farms (smaller, by appointment only). Regardless of your choice, the lavender fields make for gorgeous photographs and you’ll find quality lavender products at both.
Bart’s Books is one of those magical gems you can only find in small towns. It’s a quirky, independently owned outdoor bookstore, packed with an extensive collection of used and new titles ranging from bestsellers to sci-fi to self-help. The store holds books ranging in price from less than a dollar or two to thousands of dollars. It’s a local landmark not to be missed!
Visit The Nearby City of Ventura
Ojai is located in a valley about 15 miles inland from Ventura, which makes the city of Ventura a short and convenient trip away! There’s a whole plethora of things you can do in Ventura. First, check out the Ventura Pier and Promenade, then head over to the Ventura Botanical Gardens or the Mission San Buenaventura for a little bit of nature or history. Grab lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants in Downtown Ventura.
WHERE TO EAT IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
Farmer And The Cook
This organic grocer meets vegetarian restaurant has a menu stocked with meatless Mexican-inspired dishes, juices, and acai bowls. We ordered the Huarache (thick corn tortilla topped with grilled potatoes, onions, peppers, cheese, crema, and cilantro sauce) and it was absolutely delicious. And we’re not vegetarian or vegan type people at all!
Osteria Monte Grappa
One of the best restaurants in Ojai by far is Osteria Monte Grappa. Everything is farm-to-table and they only use the freshest ingredients. This authentic Italian experience will include fresh seafood choices and a killer wine menu featuring both local and Italian wines.
Little Sama Ojai / Topa Topa Brewing Co.
Situated inside Topa Topa Brewing Company, you’ll find Little Sama Ojai, an independent Asian fusion eatery. The food pairs so well with beer. The wings (Mary’s chicken with a sweet and spicy tamarind glaze) were great, as were the seasoned tots (with togarashi and furikake).
WHERE TO STAY IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa
The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is truly an experience in itself. The stunning property is paired with even more breathtaking grounds and surrounding landscapes. It’s no secret that Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is famous for catching the iconic ‘Pink Moment’, but that’s just the beginning. There is an onsite Moroccan style spa, pool, restaurant, golf course, tennis courts, and luxurious accommodations with a welcoming, contemporary Spanish design.
One of the best features of this hotel is its Artist in Residence program, featuring various classes, demonstrations and educational workshops. You can take a painting class or even a mixology course, partake in their “Picnic and Pedal” program using the complimentary Linus bikes, and much more. No one will blame you for staying at your hotel all day–there’s simply so much to do on the resort grounds.
Ojai Rancho Inn
Formerly a 1950’s retro roadside motel, the Ojai Rancho Inn features a classic motel style pool and western-rustic rooms designed with cacti, dream catchers, and Navajo rugs, along with 1950’s furniture and decor. The guest rooms each have their own front porch so you can take advantage of the great outdoors while relaxing at your home base. Communal amenities include Chief’s Peak (a cozy little bar), as well as a stable of free Linus bikes for use, BBQ grills, and a fire pit perfect for those cozy nights under the stars.
Ojai Rancho Inn also hosts DIY workshops on such topics as macramé, watercolor painting, and fabric dyeing. They are also home to the family-friendly music event, Folk Steady, that takes place on the first Sunday of every month.
LOCAL EVENTS IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
- Ojai WordFest (April)
- Ojai Music Festival (June)
- Ojai Wine Festival (June)
- Ojai Valley Lavender Festival (June)
- Tomato Festival in (September)
- Ojai Storytelling Festival (October)
- Ojai Day (October)
- Topa Topa Folk Festival (October)
- Taste of Ojai (October)
- Boccali’s Pumpkin Patch and Hayrides (October)
- 87 Ojai Film Festival (November)
What are some of your favorite things to do in Ojai? We’d love to discover new hidden spots for our next trip!
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