One of Southern California’s prettiest escapes is just a short skip from Los Angeles. All you need is three days and the right itinerary.
Check in The 220-acre Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (905 Country Club Rd.; 800/422-6524 or 805/646-1111; ojairesort.com; doubles from $400) was recently overhauled to the tune of $90 million. The result: 308 refreshed rooms, with four-poster beds and adobe fireplaces, plus the Artist Cottage, which hosts crafts classes and aromatherapy workshops. A full slate of activities such as golf, tennis, and hiking mean you’ll never have to leave the property. In the heart of town, try the Mission revival–style, all-suite Su Nido Inn (301 N. Montgomery St.; 866/646-7080 or 805/646-7080; sunidoinn.com; doubles from $329). All nine rooms have super-plush beds and custom tile work; three have vaulted ceilings.
Take a hike Of the 24 hiking paths that crisscross the valley, the 6½-mile Last Chance Trail, which winds through the forested Santa Paula Canyon, is the most beautiful—and the most popular. To avoid crowds, opt for the Shelf Road Trail, with its dramatic valley views.
Grab a bite Dine by candlelight on the slate patio at Suzanne’s Cuisine (502 W. Ojai Ave.; 805/640-1961; dinner for two $80), a 15-year-old local institution that serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes made with organic produce from area farmers.
Hit the town Ojai’s not known for its nightlife, but those looking to unwind can head to the art-filled Movino (308 E. Ojai Ave.; 805/646-1555), a sultry little wine bar where residents and visitors alike mingle over glasses of regional favorites; the 54-bottle list includes three from the Ojai valley itself.
Start Fresh Begin the day at the low-key Ojai Café Emporium (108 S. Montgomery St.; 805/646-2723; breakfast for two $15) with just-baked blueberry muffins or decadent cinnamon-roll French toast.
Stop and Shop Most of Ojai’s galleries and boutiques are located in and around the main street shopping arcade (see "Where to Shop"). If your tastes veer more to the homegrown variety (artisanal soaps, candles, honey, and breads), time your visit to coincide with Ojai’s Certified Farmers’ Market (300 E. Matilija St.), held on Sundays.
Get Cooking Nancy Michali trained at San Francisco’s renowned Tanta Marie culinary school before opening the Ojai Culinary Studio (315 N. Montgomery St.; 805/646-1124; ojaiculinary.com; classes from $30) in a wood-floored house. The assortment of international cooking classes features ingredients from the on-site garden.
Find your spiritual side Pilgrims, gurus, and yogis have been drawn to these chaparral-covered hills for years. To see why, follow Reeves Road to the serene Meditation Mount (10340 Reeves Rd.; 805/646-5508; meditation.com), where rock platforms seem suspended over the valley.
Sweat it out The 31,000-square-foot spa at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is the only one in the country to offer Kuyam—a Moroccan mud treatment and guided meditation. More traditional treatments include several facials that use the inn’s natural skin-care line.
Treat yourself Small plates (tomato-and-basil–stuffed artichokes; smoked salmon on baguette) make up the menu at Azu (457 E. Ojai Ave.; 805/640-7987; dinner for two $50), a diminutive tapas bar inspired by chef Laurel Moore’s travels in Spain. With more than 60 wines, 20 vodkas, and six beers on tap, it’s also the perfect place to round out the night—and your visit.
Getting There Only a 45-minute drive southeast of Santa Barbara and a 1½-hour drive northeast of Los Angeles, Ojai is easily reachable from both coastal cities.
- Bart’s An open-air used bookstore set in the frame of a traditional (though roofless) house. 302 W. Matilija St.; 805/646-3755
- Chameleon Flirty tops by Nanette Lapore, Isabella Fiore bags, and other women’s favorites. 326 E. Ojai Ave.; 805/646-2979
- Ojai Olive Oil This olive farm near town offers tours, free samples, and bottles of orange- and rosemary-infused oils. 1325 Carne Rd.; 805/ 646-5964
- Plush Surroundings Handmade furniture and a great selection of local jewelry. 105 S. Montgomery St.; 805/640-8844
- Rains A modern-day general store with everything from jams to home gadgets. 215 E. Ojai Ave.; 805/646-1441