I was lucky enough to get a little solo mama trip to Los Angeles a few weeks ago (it was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a looooong time — like, since I became a mom). During that time I escaped to Ojai with a couple of mama friends for 24 hours and it was such an amazing refresh for us. I thought I would share some of our favorite places to eat, shop, and stay while we were there so you can plan your own Ojai refresh. You’ll be like “oh, hi Ojai!” 🙂
Where To Stay
In the past when I visited Ojai a few times with my husband we stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn. It is pricey but so worth it if you can swing it. We would go for our anniversary each year, so we splurged 🙂 But there are a few other great places to stay in town if the Inn isn’t in your budget. You should definitely visit the property regardless — have breakfast on the terrace at The Oak or visit their spa and stay for a stroll around the Inn.
We weren’t sure how many girls would be joining us in Ojai, so we went with a cottage called Agave House through AirBnb. It was perfect! It was off the beaten path and a couple miles from town, nestled in the bottom of the hillside. As soon as I opened the door I had to start taking photos because it was just so cute and well-styled. Full of charm and light. It isn’t a place to bring small kids, but it is perfect for a romantic night away or a girls’ weekend. There’s even a hiking trail right outside your door, and downtown Ojai is just a couple miles away.
You can find the Agave House here.
Where to Eat
I already had a couple of favorite places to eat in Ojai, but I was able to try three new spots and two of them are on my must list. First up in the new faves category is Farmer and the Cook. It is off the beaten path of downtown Ojai (I’d been to Ojai 4 times and had never explored this part of town!) and is an organic vegetarian market and cafe that has some delish Mexican food. It is very low-key, very Ojai-authentic, and yummy.
Another new favorite spot on my list is The Nest of Ojai. We discovered this gem by accident when we needed a cold beverage and a bathroom break during some shopping and we ordered a Pixie Margarita — it was the best accidental discovery ever! The next day when I realized my favorite Ojai lunch spot was closed, we went back and tried the food. The cauliflower tacos were delicious and large enough to split between two people and the apple fritters are a must-try.
One of my biggest recommendations is The Oak at the Ojai Valley Inn. Go for brunch and ask to sit on the terrace overlooking the golf course (reservations area available and definitely needed on weekends). Everything is good there and the ambiance is top notch, as is the service. Valet parking is free! I’ve also been for dinner (and were at a table next to Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) but I’m not sure if they still seat you on the terrace for dinner. Stroll around the property when you’re done — it is such a beautiful spot.
My absolute favorite place to eat in Ojai is Boccalis. We’ve been every time we’re in town except this trip because we forgot to check and it is closed on Mondays. I was so bummed. They have really good pizza, sandwiches, and the best strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had, so save room for dessert. I love the low key patio across from the orange groves. It is a can’t miss lunch spot.
Other places I’ve enjoyed in Ojai for a low-key meal: Ojai Coffee Emporium for breakfast, Knead Baking Co., Bonnie Lu’s Country Cafe (another good low-key breakfast spot). On this trip we had dinner at Nocciola and while the food was very good, it didn’t blow me away for the price. I was also turned off by the host — we had reservations on the terrace and she seated us in the worst seat right by the staff door and patio entry door. There were several other open tables and I asked if we could sit at the other 4 top closer to the patio edge and she made up some excuse about how the 4 tops were all full — I think her exact words were “they over committed.” Five minutes later she seated a couple there. I would have understood if she had simply explained someone had already reserved that specific table (they seemed like regulars) but to lie and then seat a couple as if we wouldn’t see it was insulting and a turn off for such an expensive restaurant. It was disappointing and I probably wouldn’t go back.
Where to Shop
I was surprised at how good the shopping is in Ojai. There are the cutest, quirkiest, and chicest little shops. But one of my favorite places to shop in Ojai is the Farmer’s Market. If you are in town on Sunday morning, stopping by the Ojai Farmer’s Market is a must. I stocked up on local lavender honey, an all natural face oil, lavender soaps, dried fruit and other handmade and locally made items. They have locally grown produce and flowers, baked goods, goat cheese, meats, and other food. Plus the atmosphere is very authentically Ojai — there’s even a guy giving out free hugs.
There are also several lovely shops I was excited to finally get to visit (because when you visit with your friends you get to do more shopping than with your husband, ya know?) Summer Camp is a definite favorite. I picked up a California pennant for the boys’ bedroom wall (and really wanted to snag the Ohio one they also had, but I restrained myself), some crystals, and some palo santo bundles for gifts. I could have spent hours there.
Another shop that we literally stumbled upon was Fig. I was lured in by the quirky lawn decor pieces, and eclectic planters, peace bells, and wind chimes in the front entry of the store and then lost myself in the main area of the shop where they have all things boho, handmade, and artisan chic. I left with a beautiful driftwood and sea glass wind chime that now adorns the front porch of our home and takes me back to California each time there is a breeze. This place is not to be missed. I wanted to buy so much more (really wish I had gone for the peace bells too!)
An old favorite shop that my husband and I always visit when in Ojai is Bart’s Books. It is a one-of-a-kind bookstore that is a gem for any booklover. My husband could spend all day there, and thanks to the open air structure and well-styled design I am never in a hurry to leave. They have both new and used books and I left with a handful of old Hardy Boys books for Charlie that were $2 a piece.
I wanted to move right in to DeKor & Co from the second I walked in to the store. If ever you wanted to take home all the things and put them straight into your home, all from one store, this would be the place. They have gorgeous furnishings, textiles, and decor. They even have a swing! While much of the pieces are relatively expensive, there are smaller items that are more affordable and it is a dreamy place to window shop and get inspired.
Where to Connect With Those Ojai Vibes
Did you know there is said to be a calming vortex of Ojai? People have been going there for the relaxed ambiance since the 1920’s. If you are looking for some relaxation or to connect with nature or your own mystic side while in Ojai (because, when in Ojai…) here are a few ideas:
- visit the spa at the Ojai Valley Inn (treatments are pricey but amazing). I’ve also heard great things about the Oaks at Ojai.
- book a sacred healing session or faceology session with Narayan (the same woman who makes the all natural skincare products I mentioned above that you can buy online or at the sunday Ojai Farmer’s Market.
- take a hike — we had a hiking trail right out the door of our airbnb and it was a lovely but relatively easy hike.
- visit Meditaion Mount (currently closed due to the Thomas Fire damage, so sadly we didn’t get to visit)
- visit a wine tasting room
- make dinner reservations for a place outside and time it with the sunset so you can try to catch Ojai’s famous “pink moment”
- sit outside under the stars — my husband and I always see shooting stars when we’re in Ojai and can just sit with some wine and look up
Ojai has been my happy place since I first visited almost 8 years ago. It is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway, a relaxing family weekend away (or as relaxing as it gets when you travel with kids), or a girls’ trip. I’ve done all three and they were all just lovely. If you are able — and I realize it is a major privilege to have the help and ability to travel alone when you’re a mama — I highly recommend taking some time for yourself. It really did help me to come back a better mother and wife. I am planning an annual visit. Until next time, Ojai…