City Guide: Ojai, California
Boketto City Guides are odes to our favorite places. This is a weekly micro-series by Team Boketto. This week, Suzy Brockmann, Boketto Merchandiser and Founder of Pan Natural Goods takes us to Ojai, California for the perfect Cali weekend get-away.
Ojai (pronounced: oh-hi) is a special, tucked-away place that holds a very wise energy. Located only about an hour and a half from Los Angeles, this quiet town makes for a perfect little weekend trip if you are in the city and looking for a little refresh.
You will drive through Ventura along the way, which has some great thrift shops. Park near Main and Palm Streets for about six all within walking distance. After your second-hand hunting, grab a pizza from Tony’s a couple blocks south and have a little picnic on the beach. This makes for a pretty sweet pit stop doesn’t it?
As the landscape expands and you suddenly feel nostalgic for the country and the desert, you have began entering Ojai. Cute little farms and charming bungalows punctuate the narrowing road. It’s quiet and humble personality will strike a soft spot in your heart with its immediate charm.
Book a night or two at the Ojai Ranch Inn (get a room with a jacuzzi) or Capri Hotel. Both hotels are super cute and stylish and will make you want to redecorate your own house asap!
If you check in late as I have always done and can’t wait to enjoy the en suite jacuzzi or hotel pool, grab some easy dinner at Westridge grocery store minutes down the road from both hotels. I’m not one to indulge in fancy restaurants, especially while traveling, so I can’t offer the best dining spots in Ojai, but you can’t beat the practicality and economical value of a grocery store dinner anywhere! Be sure to grab a bottle of wine and some good snacks to enjoy back at the hotel, too.
After a good night’s sleep...
In the morning, head back down Ojai Avenue, and just before you get to the grocery store where you got dinner last night, grab breakfast at Beacon Coffee. Order anything. It’s all delicious.
Before you leave Beacon Coffee, go through the doorway to the cutest little shop called Cattywampus. They have a lovely curation of gifts, wares, and specialize in super nice crafting materials. I guarantee you will find at least one thing you totally love in there.
Continue walking down the main strip that is Ojai Avenue to explore more. In addition to a good handful of small businesses, there’s a nice, large playground and a skatepark.
When it’s time to change up the scenery
Put on your hiking boots and hit the road to the Matilija Falls Trail. It’s about a 30 min drive away but it’s absolutely beautiful with a breathtaking waterfall.
Another noteworthy place is the Ojai Raptor Center (a wildlife rehabilitation center that specializes in birds of prey). They are not open to the public, but you can book a private visit for a group of up to 10 people and get to see some incredible birds up close and personal.
You can also hit up the Topa Mountain Winery down the road— and quite literally next door if you’re staying at the Rancho Inn.
If it’s Sunday
Go to the Farmer’s Market. It’s the absolute best and walkable from both hotels. Gather your bounty from the amazing local growers and makers and be sure to include treats to be enjoyed immediately as well as souvenirs. My favorite vendor is an older lady who makes soap. She dyes her table cloths and hand writes her table cards. Her soaps are absolutely beautiful and rustic. She has no business name, no website, and is cash only. Her booth smelled like the best patchouli I’ve ever smelled and is located near the end of the loop. I think her name is Vicky.
Walk through the neighborhood behind the farmers market until you get to Bart’s Books, an open-air bookstore that is actually the largest outdoor bookstore in the world. It offers a vast collection of new and used books that will captivate even the most timid bookworm in a setting that is equally charismatic and romantic. I think of Bart’s as much more than a bookstore. It’s a place that invites us to slow down and awakens our innate curiosities and passions. It’s a bookstore that I believe could change your life.
Before you bid this sweet town farewell, stop at Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods for some lunch and car snacks. It’s another grocery store :)
I hope you will enjoy Ojai as much as I always have. Safe travels!