I’ve lived in California for over 12 years, and I’d never even heard of Ojai until Reese Witherspoon got married there a few years ago. Then it came up again on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills last season (I know, I know …) so we decided to check it out. It’s a little town about 45 minutes southeast of Santa Barbara and sits in the valley. Or a vortex, as we learned. It’s a popular place for artists, retreats and dozens of festivals—although we went on an “off” weekend.
I’d heard a lot about the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa (destination of the RHOBH) but it’s a little on the pricey side, so we opted for the Su Nido Inn, and I really loved it. It was within walking distance to everything (as most places are) and was pretty private.
We spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhoods, and despite the heat, went on a little hike. We had planned for a longer one, but it was 97 degrees by the time we finished! (We didn’t get the memo about starting early). We walked from our hotel to the Shelf Road Trail, which went around the perimeter of town, and then through the Sunkist orchards along Gridley Road on the way back.
The hike was in full sun, and there wasn’t much coverage. But it was surprisingly lush in the valley. And as hot as it was during the day, it really cooled off at night. So bring a sweater!
On our walks we spotted a lot of flowers and orange trees—as well as trees, street signs and utility poles that had been adorned with yarn. Apparently yarn bombing in Ojai has become very popular and I found this to be one of the most charming things about the town (see my post about the knitted tree from last week).
Have you ever been to an outdoor bookstore? I had not, and Bart’s Books happens to be the world’s largest. At this point in the day, I was kinda hoping for some a/c, but the store was so cool I almost forgot about how hot I was.
If you go to Ojai, you’ll end up in Libbey Park at some point: it’s in the center of town and is home to Libbey Bowl (where you’ll find the music festivals). Walk through the Sound Arch to get to your seat, a motion-activated, interactive sculpture that plays music once you pass through. Very cool.
Lastly, we hit the Farmer’s Market, which happens on Sundays. And it was great. Lots of produce of course, and plenty of olive oil, handmade soaps and other packable items to bring home as souvenirs from this great little getaway.