So friends, after I have shared my favorite shop, food spot, market and stay in Ojai it’s time to sum up all the things and see what’s so special about this place and how to get most of your weekend there. Someone told me, some people think Ojai has some good vibrations, energy points – in esoteric way – and truly it’s super calm and peaceful there. No noteworthy bustle in the streets, lots of pilates and spa studios, some shops, few restaurants, aisles of pretty homes and gardens, quite a lot of cacti and succulents, amounts of pixie tangerines, see of orange trees, miles of hiking paths, with a good portion of sun. All this is Ojai – a small town only 45 minutes from Santa Barbara up-country. It seams to be still a hidden gem, but more and more folks are discovering Ojai as a real treat. You can really concentrate on relaxing and enjoying your time off, without any distraction. We spend two days and one morning there and when we came home, I think I felt the energy people are talking about. It’s definitely a place I would return to, even if I’m more of a near-by-the-ocean vacationer. We arrived super late at Ojai Rancho Inn on Thursday. It wasn’t planed like that but the Highway One was just too beautiful that day, we couldn’t miss to take a bunch of pictures and just watch the waves. Check out my Highway One Dreaming post.
On Friday we got up pretty early and went for breakfast at Knead Baking Company. Can only recommend their breakfast menu. Followed by a nice stroll through Ojai downtown. Which is not that spectacular, but hey you are not here to spend your mini vacation in downtown. There are few stores and food spots, loooots of spas and it’s so nice to see all the locals running there errands in the morning, talking to the shop owners and greeting everyone. Back in the motel we rented the bikes and went on a small ride on a bike path just behind the Ojai Rancho Inn. I loved riding that path and seeing people walking their dogs, riding their horses, old BFFs going for am morning walk and couples with their to go coffees. The sun was a little bit shy that morning, but the gloomy weather added even more relaxed atmosphere to this scenery. Guys, this bike ride is a must. We made a turn into Ojai streets and got intentionally lost in the residential area, which was amazing. So many different homes, big ones, small ones, spanish style, american style, cottages and gardens, everywhere gardens. We also made a quick stop at Summer Camp Shop to browse some hand made goods. They have an amazing selection. It was lunch time and we opted for the Hip Vegan Café. A vegan spot with amazing salads. I have to admit, my eyes were more hungry so we both got the big salad which was a way too big. Even Patrick, who can eat a whole pig for one meal, couldn’t win this salad fight. We took it with us added some more mozzarella, tomatoes, olives and other deli stuff from the local grocery store and had that evening a great meal on our porch. When you are traveling it can get pretty expensive to eat three times a day in a restaurant and it’s definitely too much. That’s why we are always looking for a nice, local grocery store as they always have super deli assortment. The Westridge Market is Ojai‘s nice, local grocery store. Maybe a little bit pricier that some other ones, but still way more affordable as eating out. A little bit exhausted we returned to our room for some laziness and pool time. Doing nothing feels so good. I felt asleep at 8.30pm. SATURDAY
It’s was our 2nd anniversary! Last year we went to Seattle and we started a small tradition of being away on our anniversary and not buying any presents. We just want to spent some time alone, with no big expectations or pressure. Just relaxed. As we are new hiker fans I researched some paths and after the breakfast we headed to Shelf Road Hiking Trail. It’s above Ojai Valley in the mountains. It’s about 1h long and you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of Ojai and orange groves. The trail is not difficult. You are fine no matter if hiker or not. Just take some water with you. Many people start the hike at the Signal Road and go back because they leave their cars there.
My recommendation is: leave your car at the motel, walk to Knead Baking Company, grab a breakfast and walk further to Gridley Road, make a turn left and you will find yourself in between orange trees. Magic! There is only a street you can walk onto, but there are less cars passing by, you have the whole street to yourself.
Walking up the Gridley Road will directly lead you to the entrance of the Shelf Road. I also couldn’t resits to “steel” two tangerines from the trees. It felt so right to eat this juicy fruit on this hike. When the trail ends you will be on the Signal Road which goes straight to downtown and the bike path, which we took to get back to Ojai Rancho Inn. In all this hike was about 2 hours.
The rest of the day, until sunset, we spend at the pool and the porch. Around 5.30pm we drove up to the Meditation Mount. It’s noted in every Ojai guide. And it’s definitely worth visiting. A mediation house in the mountains surrounded by a beautiful garden of succulents and cacti. There is a small pond and spiritual quotes hewn in stones. Small green lawn invites you to have a picnic and watch the sun plunge behind the mountains. It’s one of the most quite places I have ever been to. This place must have some good vibes. Back to the motel, we had dinner in the backyard, spent few more minutes at the pool and felt asleep again at 8.30pm. Next morning we went to the Farmers Market. Check out more details here.
That was our anniversary and Ojai weekend. I hope this animates you guys to book your own Ojai mini-vacation soon. I also hope this tips will be helpful to get most of your weekend and if you have any questions please let me know in the comments or per email.
OJAI WEEKEND NOTES:
Ojai Rancho Inn, around $160 per night for a room with jacuzzi.
Breakfast at Knead Baking Company, Lunch at Hip Vegan and the Deli at The Westridge Market
FAVORITE THINGS TO DO
Hiking the Shelf Road, eating pixie tangerines and strolling the farmers market. Oh and for book lovers: Don’t miss to visit the Bart’s Books, an open air book store.
GOOD TO KNOW
– it can get chilly in the evening, pack a warm sweater
– never forget the sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy, while hiking you can get a sunburn.
– Ojai Rancho Inn provides towels for the pool. No need to bring your own. We did.