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Escape to Ojai Valley: Your Ultimate Guide To SoCal’s Best Kept SECRET 🤯

Ojai Valley, a tranquil gem nestled in the heart of California, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and serene vibes. 

If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities this is the perfect place for you.

This comprehensive guide delves into every facet of Ojai Valley, ensuring a memorable journey for every traveler.

We’ll cover the best things to do, best times to visit, where to stay and some insider tips too. 

To start, how long should you spend in Ojai? 

🚨 NOTE: State Route 33 (SR-33) in Ventura County in Los Padres National Forest has recently had road closures so plan trips accordingly. Check road conditions before making any travel plans. Find out more up-to-date info through The Forest Service: Ojai Ranger District.

How Long Should I Spend in Ojai Valley?

For most people a 2-3 day getaway will be perfect. 

But we recommend coming on a Thursday if you can to beat some of the weekend rush and get some peace and quiet. 

💡 Top tip: Don’t come on Mondays or Tuesdays, as a lot of things are closed. 

Weekend Getaway – 2-3 days

For a quick escape, a weekend in Ojai is perfect. 

This gives you enough time to explore the downtown area, enjoy some local dining, experience the famous Ojai “Pink Moment” at sunset, and perhaps indulge in a spa treatment or a morning hike. 

pink sunset ojai

It’s a great way to unwind and get a taste of what Ojai has to offer without feeling too rushed.

Cultural and Artistic Exploration 3-4 Days

Art lovers and those interested in the cultural scene might find three to four days suitable. 

This timeframe allows for visits to local art galleries, the Ojai Art Center, and attending any concerts or festivals that might be happening, depending on the season.

Relaxation and Wellness Retreat 4-5 days

If you’re looking to enjoy Ojai’s renowned spas and wellness centers, consider staying for about four to five days. 

This allows you to fully unwind, perhaps with daily yoga sessions, spa treatments, and time spent in nature. 

It also gives you a chance to explore more of the area’s natural beauty, like the Los Padres National Forest or Lake Casitas.

If you do this I would arrive on a Wednesday when most things will be open.

Exploring Nature and Outdoor Activities 5-7 days

For outdoor enthusiasts, a week in Ojai provides ample opportunity to delve into activities like hiking, biking, horseback riding, and even day trips to nearby natural attractions. 

(Don’t worry we cover things to do next).

This duration is ideal for those who want to thoroughly explore the outdoors and perhaps venture into the surrounding areas a bit more.

Extended Stay or Deep Dive : More Than A Week

If you’re seeking an extended stay, perhaps for writing, artistic pursuits, or a sabbatical, Ojai is accommodating. 

Longer stays allow you to really immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, participate in community events, and perhaps even attend workshops or classes.

If you want a laid-back vibe then Ojai valley is a perfect place. 

Best Things To Do in Ojai Valley

There really is something for everyone.

Unless you’re looking for a sky bar in a skyscraper, but that’s not what you’re here for. 

Explore Nature and the Outdoors

Hiking in Los Padres National Forest: 

Discover numerous trails offering breathtaking views and varying difficulty levels, perfect for nature enthusiasts.

Los Padres national forest
Los Padres National Forest

Biking on the Ojai Valley Trail: 

Enjoy a scenic bike ride along this trail that connects Ojai to Ventura, suitable for all skill levels.

Horseback Riding: 

Experience Ojai’s natural beauty on horseback with guided tours available through local stables.

Visit Lake Casitas: 

Enjoy boating, fishing, or picnicking at this beautiful lake, a great spot for family outings.

Discover Ojai’s Art and Culture

Ojai Art Center: 

Explore the oldest multi-purpose art center in California, showcasing local artists’ work.

Attend the Ojai Music Festival: 

Experience world-class performances at this renowned annual music festival. It happens every year in June and focuses on classical music.

Explore Local Galleries: 

Visit galleries dotted around Ojai, each offering a glimpse into the vibrant local art scene.

Relaxation and Wellness

Day Spas and Wellness Centers: 

Indulge in a spa day at one of Ojai’s many luxurious wellness centers, known for their holistic treatments.

Yoga and Meditation Retreats: 

Join a yoga or meditation retreat for a rejuvenating experience, embracing Ojai’s serene atmosphere.

Culinary Experiences

Farm-to-Table Dining: 

Savor meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients, showcasing Ojai’s rich agricultural heritage.

Olive Oil Tasting: 

Visit local olive farms for a tasting tour and learn about the production of olive oil.

Wine Tasting: 

Explore Ojai’s boutique wineries and taste unique local wines.

Outdoor Adventures

Camping at Lake Casitas: 

For the more adventurous, camping at Lake Casitas offers a chance to connect with nature.

Rock Climbing & Hiking: 

The surrounding mountains offer excellent opportunities for rock climbing enthusiasts.

If you want a challenging hike, the Topa Topa Bluff is a spectacular location for it.

topa topa bluff
Topa Topa Bluff

Shopping and Markets

Browse the Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market: 

Shop for fresh produce, artisanal goods, and unique crafts every Sunday.

Explore Downtown Ojai: 

Wander through the charming downtown area, home to boutique stores, bookshops, and quaint cafes.

Historical and Educational Activities

Visit the Ojai Valley Museum: 

Learn about Ojai’s history and cultural heritage at this local museum.

Tour Historic Landmarks: 

Discover Ojai’s rich history by visiting landmarks like the Spanish-style Arcade Plaza.

Family-Friendly Activities

Libbey Park: 

Enjoy a family day out at this central park, complete with a playground and tennis courts.

Participate in Local Festivals: 

Engage in family-friendly activities during local events like the Ojai Day celebration.

Attend Local Events and Festivals

Ojai Film Festival: 

Film enthusiasts should not miss this annual event showcasing independent films from around the world.

Explore the Surrounding Areas

Day Trips to Nearby Beaches: 

The beaches of Ventura and Santa Barbara are just a short drive away.

Visit the Channel Islands National Park: 

An ideal excursion for those interested in wildlife, hiking, and marine life.

Where To Stay

Luxury Resorts and Spas

Ojai Valley Inn: 

This iconic resort is a blend of luxury and relaxation. 

ojai valley inn
Ojai Valley Inn

Known for its world-class spa, championship golf course, and exceptional dining options, the Ojai Valley Inn offers an upscale experience amidst a stunning backdrop of the Topa Topa Mountains.

The Capri Hotel: 

Modern and chic, The Capri Hotel is a boutique accommodation that offers a stylish and comfortable stay. 

It’s known for its mid-century modern architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds.

Charming Bed and Breakfasts

Lavender Inn: 

Originally built in 1874, the Lavender Inn is a historic B&B offering a cozy and intimate atmosphere. 

Each room is uniquely decorated, and the inn is renowned for its beautiful gardens and on-site cooking classes.

Blue Iguana Inn: 

A blend of rustic charm and luxury, the Blue Iguana Inn provides a tranquil oasis with its beautifully decorated rooms and lush gardens. 

It’s an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Boutique Hotels

Ojai Rancho Inn: 

This boutique hotel offers a unique experience with its rustic, cabin-style rooms.

It’s perfect for those looking for a blend of comfort and character, and it’s conveniently located near downtown Ojai.

Su Nido Inn: 

Meaning “Your Nest” in Spanish, Su Nido Inn is designed to provide a tranquil and luxurious escape. 

Each suite is themed and decorated distinctively, offering a personalized experience.

Budget-Friendly Options

Ojai Retreat & Inn: 

This is a serene, budget-friendly option for travelers. 

The inn offers comfortable accommodations with stunning valley views and a peaceful environment ideal for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Chantico Inn: 

A charming and affordable option, the Chantico Inn features uniquely decorated rooms and offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

It’s conveniently located near many of Ojai’s attractions.

Camping and Glamping

Lake Casitas Recreation Area: 

For outdoor enthusiasts, camping at Lake Casitas offers a unique way to experience Ojai’s natural beauty. 

There are also glamping options available for those who want a bit more comfort in their outdoor experience.

Specialty Stays

Ojai Olive Oil Ranch: 

For a truly unique experience, consider staying at an olive oil ranch. 

Some local olive oil farms in Ojai offer accommodations, allowing guests to learn about olive oil production and enjoy the serene surroundings.

Eco-Friendly Options

Emerald Iguana Inn: 

This inn is known for its commitment to sustainability and offers a tranquil, eco-friendly environment. 

It’s a perfect choice for travelers looking to reduce their environmental footprint while enjoying the natural beauty of Ojai.

How To Get To Ojai Valley

By Car

🚨 NOTE: State Route 33 (SR-33) in Ventura County in Los Padres National Forest has recently had road closures so plan trips accordingly. Check road conditions before making any travel plans. Find out more up-to-date info through The Forest Service: Ojai Ranger District.

 ROAD IN LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

From Los Angeles: 

Ojai is about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Take US-101 N toward Ventura, and then switch to CA-33 N toward Ojai.

The drive can take about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic.

From Santa Barbara: 

If you’re coming from Santa Barbara, it’s a shorter drive of about 42 miles.

Take US-101 S to Ventura and then follow CA-33 N to Ojai.

This journey typically takes about an 45 minutes to an hour.

From Bakersfield: 

Traveling from Bakersfield to Ojai involves a journey of approximately 110 miles. 

Start on CA-99 S towards Los Angeles, and then merge onto CA-166 W/CA-33 S towards Maricopa/Taft.

Continue on CA-33 S through the picturesque Los Padres National Forest until you reach Ojai. 

This scenic route offers a delightful blend of mountain and forest landscapes. 

The drive usually takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Some other further away cities:

  • From Fresno – about 229 miles taking the CA-99 S. About 4 hours.
  • From San Diego – around 200 miles taking the I-5 N and I-405 N.About 3 hours 15 minutes.
  • From San jose – around 310 miles taking the US-101 S. About 5 hours 10 minutes.

By Train

Train to Ventura:

Amtrak runs services to Ventura.

From the Ventura train station, you can catch a bus or taxi to Ojai, which is about 15 miles away.

By Air

Nearest Airports:

The closest major airport is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

From there, you can rent a car or use public transportation to reach Ojai.

Another nearby airport is Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), which is smaller but closer to Ojai.

Airport Transfers:

From either airport, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or use a ride-sharing service to travel to Ojai.

By Shuttle or Taxi Services

Shuttle Services:

Various shuttle services operate from LAX and SBA to Ojai.

These can be pre-booked for convenience.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing:

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft are available from the airports and major cities nearby.

Driving Tips

Traffic Considerations:

If driving from Los Angeles, be mindful of heavy traffic, especially during peak hours.

Scenic Route:

For a more scenic drive, consider taking the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) part of the way, especially if you’re not in a hurry. Obviously this depends where you are coming from.

FAQs About Ojai Valley

What is the best time to visit Ojai Valley?

Ojai’s climate is pleasant year-round, but spring and fall offer the most comfortable temperatures and vibrant natural scenery.

Are there any special events in Ojai for families?

Yes, Ojai hosts several family-friendly events throughout the year including various community fairs. See more info at the Ojai Visitors website.

Can I explore Ojai Valley without a car?

While having a car provides flexibility, Ojai’s compact size makes it easy to explore on foot or by bike.

Many attractions are located within close proximity to each other.

Is Ojai Valley suitable for a romantic getaway?

Absolutely!

Ojai’s serene environment, coupled with its luxury resorts and intimate dining options, makes it an ideal destination for couples.

What are some must-try local foods in Ojai?

Don’t miss the chance to try Ojai’s famous Pixie Tangerines, artisanal olive oils, and locally-produced wine.

Are there any hiking trails suitable for beginners in Ojai?

Yes, Ojai offers several easy trails that are perfect for beginners, such as the Ojai Meadows Preserve.

Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

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