california road trip: a weekend in ojai

o1Where: Ojai, California

Since I started taking these NYC getaways, I’ve realized that one of my favorite parts about exploring a new area is visiting the often overlooked (by everyday tourists, at least) towns nearby. So on our recent trip to LA, I wanted to make sure to include a trip to one of the nearby desert towns. I thought about Palm Springs, but after seeing several posts about Ojai on my Instagram feed (yes, that’s really how I make travel decisions!), that sealed the deal. Ojai it was!

Ojai is a tiny town of about 8000 people, located in a valley about an hour and a half drive northwest of Los Angeles.  It’s a sleepy little town, with a small main street area, an emphasis on locally made goods, cute restaurants, health food, and healthy (hippie?) living.



Our first stop was Desert Images, a cactus oasis just outside of Ojai. There are several football fields worth of cacti and succulents and we spent a good hour or so wandering up and down every row. You might know I’m a huge succulent fan, so that basically made the trip for me (although unfortunately I didn’t think they’d withstand my plane travels so well, and I left empty-handed).

Afterwards, we checked in to our (beyond) awesome AirBnb pictured above and below). The Ojai Rancho House is perfect for two couples on a friendcation. It’s situated directly next to the swanky Ojai Valley Inn, but it’s all yours… Or at least, it was all ours! While there is also a smaller apartment that can be rented out on the floor below (so you might share the outdoor space), we came during the week so it was just us in the large house, with an even larger backyard. It was the perfect way to enjoy lazy, quiet afternoons (with a decent amount of rosé).

I really fell in love with Ojai. The town was so friendly and quaint. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, but not hot. We had good food, spent (not enough) time at the most amazing outdoor bookstore, shopped, and even found ourselves at a wine tasting and picnic in the mountains (highlight!). It was the perfect mini-LA getaway.


Eat: Knead Baking Co for breakfast, the Farmer and the Cook for lunch, the Deer Lodge for dinner (all have outdoor seating (!)) (very exciting for a New Yorker)

Drink: We stocked up on our own wine and brews to enjoy in our spacious backyard, but some popular choices in town include Chief’s Peak (part of our complex) and Ojai Beverage Company.

Do: Visit Bart’s Books–it’s a must! Drive up to Old Creek Ranch Winery for a low key wine tasting and a BYO-picnic on the patio. It’s incredibly quiet, beautiful and a carefree way to spend an entire afternoon. If we had more time, we would’ve explored local hiking and Meditation Mount. If it’s a romantic getaway, book a day of pampering at the Ojai Valley Spa (and get access to the pool!).


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