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.
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WHERE IS OJAI, CALIFORNIA LOCATED?
Ojai is a city in Ventura County, California, USA. It lies in the Ojai Valley, the valley under the Topatopa Mountains. Ojai Valley is located just 70 miles North of Los Angeles and 12 miles away from the ocean.
Accessible seclusion is what has made this Southern California getaway so iconic for all these years. Nearby cities include Ventura, CA, Oxnard, CA, and Camarillo, CA.
BEST TIME TO VISIT OJAI, CALIFORNIA
Given its location, temperate climate, and generally sunny weather, Ojai can be a year-round destination. If you’re looking to spend time poolside, we suggest aiming for later in spring through late summer in order to take advantage of those warmer days.
The summer is definitely peak season in Ojai, but thanks to Southern California’s weather, you really can enjoy a visit here at almost any time of the year.
HOW MANY DAYS NEEDED TO VISIT OJAI, CALIFORNIA
We think two nights is the perfect amount of time needed to explore Ojai. 2-3 days will give you a chance to enjoy the various restaurants, bars, and wineries, as well as to relax, shop, and partake in a few activities!
HOW TO GET TO OJAI, CALIFORNIA
If you are flying from out of state…
Los Angeles International Airport, Santa Barbara and Burbank are your best airport options and offer a short transfer. The closest airports from Ojai are:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – 70 miles from Ojai (90-minute drive)
- LAX is a widely known airport and services all the major carriers with endless direct flights. You’ll likely find the cheapest flights by flying in/out of LAX.
- Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) – 40 miles from Ojai (35-minute drive)
- Bob Hope Airport (BUR) – 70 miles from Ojai (75-minute drive)
Once you touch down, simply rent a car and be on your merry way.
We like to rent from Hertz. Why? Well with their Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program (completely free to join), you’ll get counter-free pickup at select locations, and even mobile alerts with your exact rental car and its location before you arrive. Check out rental car pricing and availability here.
If you are driving from somewhere in California/Nevada…
If you’re located in Southern California, the best way to get to Ojai is by driving.
If you’re traveling from Northern California or Western Nevada, you could take advantage of flying to a nearby airport (then picking up a rental car to drive the rest of the way there), or by taking a road trip over to Southern California!
Driving times to Ojai from a few cities are outlined below:
- Los Angeles to Ojai – 70 miles from Ojai (90-minute drive)
- Santa Barbara to Ojai – 40 miles from Ojai (35-minute drive)
- San Diego to Ojai – 200 miles from Ojai (3-hour drive)
- San Francisco to Ojai – 360 miles from Ojai (6-hour drive)
- Las Vegas to Ojai – 316 miles from Ojai (5-hour drive)
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.
- Parking along Ojai Ave is limited to 2 hours. Follow S. Montgomery or look behind the arcade shops off E. Matilija for lots with longer limits.
- Ojai has a convenient trolley that operates during busy times. Check their maps for stops and prices.
COMPLETE MAP: 20 FUN THINGS TO DO IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
20 FUN THINGS TO DO IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA
1. 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.
2. 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.
Don’t miss a quick stroll in the local park or the Ojai Farmer’s Market on Sundays. At the market, be sure to pick up some fruits–Harry’s Berries strawberries are delicious and not to be missed!
3. 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 and there is nothing better than browsing them all with an afternoon coffee in hand!
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
An Adventure Pass is required to park at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead. There are 55 parking spaces and 4 picnic sites here–so don’t forget your picnic snacks for after the hike!
6. 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 an even longer hike that boast breathtaking views of the valley.
7. 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.
8. Go Antique/Thrift Shopping
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.
9. 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.
10. Sample Wines At Tipple & Ramble
Enjoy a glass of wine at Tipple & Ramble, a tucked-away wine bar with a cozy indoor and outdoor area. Along with their extensive wine list, Tipple & Ramble also sells the cutest items in their store such as market totes, picnic baskets, blankets, games, home decor and more.
11. Do an Olive Oil Tasting at Ojai Olive Oil
Ojai Olive Oil’s farm is one of the best things to see in Ojai, as it’s one of just a handful of organic olive oil-producing operations in Southern California. They are open to the public for shopping and $10 tastings of all their products, seven days a week.
They offer several types of award-winning extra virgin olive oils as well as flavored olive oils infused with fruits or herbs. These can be bought at their store at the olive grove or at the local farmers’ markets.
Go to the tasting room for samples of various types of olive oils, including extra virgin olive oils, regular olives oils, and flavored olive oils, as well as balsamic vinegar. You can also purchase olive-oil infused facial products, lip balm, and soap here!
For those looking to learn more about olive oil, just ask the staff! They will teach you the history of olive oil, how olives are grown, and how extra virgin olive oil is extracted, blended, and ultimately bottled. They can also teach you how to cook with olive oil, store olive oil, how to tell the good from the bad, and more.
12. Ojai Farmers Market
Ojai Certified Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday from 9:00am to 1:00pm, rain or shine. On any given weekend, it’s always alive with music, interesting people, and of course, great organic produce and food to sample and purchase.
As it’s located centrally in the downtown area (on Matilija Street), it’s easy to meander through town when you’re done exploring the market.
13. Shop For Hip Home Decor 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.
14. Check Out 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.
15. 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.
16. Explore the Countryside on Horseback
Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company offers tranquil and scenic horseback rides through the Ventura River valley. The best part is that you’ll never ride on a roadway—Oso Ranch has direct access from its corrals to the Ojai Land Conservancy.
They offer both day rides and sunset rides with a private guide from Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company at Oso Ranch will offer the perfect ride customized to your ability.
17. Browse the Books at Bart’s Books
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!
And if you’re having trouble finding it, just keep an eye out for the bright red outdoor bookshelves!
18. Visit The Nearby City of Ventura
Ojai is located in a valley about 15 miles inland from Ventura, which makes the charming beach town of Ventura a short and convenient trip away! There are a 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.
Lastly, grab lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants in Downtown Ventura.
Again, if you have a whole day to spare, we recommend grabbing bikes and taking the Ojai Valley Bike Trail down to Ventura for a few hours instead of driving. This is a great way to spend some time under the Southern California sun!
19. Take A Stroll In The Ojai Meadows Preserve
The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a protected natural wetland area with meadows meant to be explored. If you’re looking for an easy stroll to start your morning, this is it.
For decades the historic wetland was buried under sediment and dirt from nearby construction. This restoration project was made possible by citizens and businesses, who helped transform the property into a gorgeous wetland environment, and what you see today!
20. Take A Hike To Willett Hot Springs
If you’ve got more time and are up for an adventure, consider doing the Willett Hot Springs hike while you’re in Ojai, CA.
The Willett Hot Springs hike is located in the Sespe Wilderness, north of Ojai, in the Los Padres Forest. The trail passes through chaparral, oak woodland, riparian habitat, and open meadows. The reward of hiking in 9.5 miles? A 100-degree geothermal hot spring for you to enjoy for yourself!
The trail itself is pretty entertaining as it provides sweeping, scenic views, as well as constant access to Sespie Creek (which is great for swimming in). Do note though, this is a 20-mile round trip hike so you’ll need to be relatively fit to complete such a long distance.
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 IS THE PINK MOMENT IN OJAI?
Ojai’s legendary “pink moment” can be seen when the setting sun casts a dramatic rosy/pink glow across the Topa Topa Mountains.
Unlike most sunsets, this one comes from the east, causing the Topa Topa Mountains to act like a mirror to reflect and diffuse the light over Ojai Valley in Ventura County.
No matter what you choose to do in Ojai over your weekend getaway, you should try to catch at least one of these sunsets during your time here!
What are some of your favorite things to do in Ojai? We’d love to discover new hidden spots for our next trip!