Ojai is known for being a picturesque city escape just north of Los Angeles, against the dramatic backdrop of the beautiful Topatopa Mountains. Famous for its small, cute town, great restaurants, hiking trails, and farmers’ markets, Ojai is the perfect place to spend a long weekend with family or friends.
My older brother lives in Ojai and I have visited several times, most recently on a family getaway to Ojai Valley Inn this summer.
From my experience visiting this beautiful destination, I have created this ultimate guide to Ojai sharing the best places to stay, where to eat and drink, and the top activities in and around the city. Enjoy!
Top 10 Things To Do In Ojai
There are an array of things to do in Ojai! With so many options, where should you begin? Here are 10 things to do in Ojai that are great for first-time visitors to the area.
1) Hike The Rose Valley Falls Trail
This 1.1-mile trail is located within the Los Padres National Forest, just a 40-minute drive from downtown Ojai. On the trail, you will pass streams, canyons, and enjoy picturesque views of the mountain range. Along the trail, you will reach a waterfall where you can stop and take a dip or climb inside the waterfall into a cave!
2) Shop At An Independent And Locally Owned Store
Ojai is not the place to visit if you are looking to shop at chained stores or for your favorite brands. Instead, Ojai offers something different, with an abundance of independent and locally family-run stores.
In Ojai, you will find independent stores filled with garden furniture, jewelry, soap, vintage clothing, pottery, and unique trinkets and souvenirs.
3) Take An Olive Oil Farm Tour
Ojai is home to 150-year old olive tree farms many within a 5-mile radius of the city. These tours offer tastings, information on how the olives are grown, the extraction process, blending, the bottling process, and all the different varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
4) Visit The World’s Largest Outdoor Bookstore
With more than 130,000 books both new and old, Bart’s Book store has been selling books since 1964. Here you can find every book you can ever think of and in a large variety of genres.
5) Cycle The Ojai Valley Bike Trail
The Ojai Valley Bike Trails is a 9-mile trail that stretches from Foster Park to the heart of Ojai. The bike trail also goes straight from Ojai Valley Inn to downtown Ojai and they offer free bike rentals! If biking isn’t your thing the trail is also a great place to run or take a walk.
6) Explore The Los Padres National Forest
With mountains, rivers and beaches the Los Padres National Forest is the second-largest national forest in the state of California. The park has an abundance of walking trails, over 468 species of wildlife and is a great place to explore nature.
7) Visit The Valley View Preserve
Located in downtown Ojai The Valley View Preserve is a 195-acre park of “saved land” that is in a land conservancy and has a lot of great hiking trails including Fox Canyon Trail, Foothill Trail, US Forest Service Trail, Luci’s Trail and Pratt Trailhead.
8) Go On A Wine Tasting Tour
There are great wineries in Ojai! Spend a day visiting local wineries and discover a variety of local, delicious wines!
9) Escape To The Ecotopia Hot Springs
Located within the Matilija Canyon, the Ecotopia Hot Springs is a collection of sulfur pools surrounded by nothing but nature. You can visit the hot springs during the day or at night. If you visit during the night you will be blessed with a great stargazing opportunity.
If you love hot springs you can check out our guide to the best hot springs in California!
10) Head To A Spa
After exploring the city or going on a long hike, it will surely be time for a relaxing spa day. Ojai has some great five-star spas to relax and rejuvenate. My favorite is at the Ojai Valley Inn!
Other Things To See & Do In Ojai:
- Hike Matilija Falls Trail
- Hike Piedra Blanca Formations Trail
- Explore Ojai’s Farmers Market
- Visit Ojai Valley Museum of History and Art
- Take Children To Play At Libbey Park Playground
- Family Walk On Box Canyon Park Loop Trail
- Explore Ojai Meadows Preserve
- Go Horseback Riding
Tours To Book Around Ojai
Looking for a guided tour to book during your trip to Ojai? Here are a few of the best tours near Ojai!
1) Private Surf Lessons In Ventura
Head down to the beach in nearby Ventura and book yourself a private surf lesson! The beach town of Ventura is just a 30-minute drive away from Ojai and has excellent surfing year-round making it very accessible and a great way to spend the afternoon during your Ojai trip.
Book This Tour: 1.5 Hour Private Beginner Surf Lesson
2) Wine Tasting In Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is just a 45-minute drive from Ojai so during your weekend there why not go wine tasting in one of the best wine regions in California? This tour is a seven-hour wine tasting adventure for a small group of up to 14 people. During this tour, you will visit three top-notch local wineries in Santa Ynez Valley!
Book This Tour: Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour
3) Santa Barbara Kayaking Trip
Spend the day kayaking, swimming, and exploring the Santa Barbara coastline with this four-hour kayaking adventure. The Santa Barbara coastline is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. This tour is the perfect way to spend an afternoon disconnecting and reconnecting with nature in a gorgeous, peaceful setting.
Book This Tour: Santa Barbara Kayaking Trip
4) Santa Barbara Cupcake & Wine Tour
On this chic tour, you’ll sample a dozen mini cupcakes and while spending a fun day wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley. This wine-themed cupcake tasting and wine tour is perfect for a girls day or a bachelorette party!
Book This Tour: Santa Barbara Cupcake & Wine Tour
Where To Stay In Ojai
My favorite hotel is on Ojai is the Ojai Valley Inn. Ojai Valley Inn is a beautiful, luxury resort nestled on a golf course on 220 oak-studded acres, surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains. Recently I went on a little family getaway to the small, rural town of Ojai and stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn.
Highlights from our stay included dining under the oak trees at their signature restaurant, The Oak, roasting smores at their firepit tables under the stars, riding bikes along the beautiful bike path from the resort to downtown Ojai, and enjoying cocktails, lunch and swimming at one of their four pools.
Ojai Valley Inn is by far the best hotel in Ojai but it can be pricey. If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation here are 8 mid-range and budget Ojai hotels:
- Ojai Retreat & Inn – Cute, affordable 3-star hotel with sweeping views of the mountains.
- Hummingbird Inn of Ojai – Budget-friendly, in a quiet area with beautiful mountain views.
- Chantico Inn – Located in the historic district, offering free breakfast and free WiFi.
- Casa Ojai Inn – Located in the city center, next to the golf course, affordable, minimalist decor.
- Su Nido All-Suites Boutique Inn – 4-star, highly rated, different suite options that are great for families.
- Oakridge Inn – Budget-friendly, hot tub, free WiFi.
- The Capri Hotel – Chic decor, lovely pool, affordable pricing, mountain setting.
- Blue Iguana Inn – Budget-friendly, highly rated, in a quiet rural area near Los Padres National Forest.
Where To Eat In Ojai
Ojai has recently become known as a foodie destination. With everything from five-star dining, to the oldest tavernas in the city, Ojai has a restaurant for everyone’s culinary desires.
Here are 10 of the top-rated restaurants in Ojai:
- Olivella – Located within the Ojai Valley Inn, this restaurant serves dishes made with produce grown by local farmers and focuses on using only fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Deer Lodge – One of the oldest restaurants in the valley, Deer Lodge serves classic California cuisine and has an extensive craft beer selection.
- The Ranch House – For over 70 years this restaurant has been tucked away in the valley serving fresh produce in a beautiful setting.
- Azu Ojai – With the perfect blend of Mexican and Spanish heritage this rich and flavourful restaurant is family-owned and offers unique dishes.
- Osteria Monte Grappa – Inspired by Mediterranean cuisine this restaurant serves pizzas, fresh artisanal pasta, and risotto.
- Nocciola – A great Italian spot owned and run by a local family.
- Ojai Rotie – A casual dining French-Lebanese restaurant with lots of outdoor dining options. The sourdough boule is incredible.
- Agave Maria’s – Considered the best Mexican restaurant in town, serving traditional favorites.
- Topa Topa Brewing Co – A locals’ brewery, Topa Topa has an extensive beer menu along with the Southeast-Asian-inspired cuisine at the Little Sama Ojai.
- Boccali’s Pizza – A family-run pizza restaurant with a great patio to have a pizza, beer and watch the sunset.
The Best Bars In Ojai
Ojai has a very relaxed vibe and so do all its watering holes. But don’t be fooled, you can still get your hands (and mouth) on a great craft cocktail in Ojai! Here are a few of the best bars in Ojai:
- Deer Lodge – An institution in Ojai since 1932, this bar is a concert venue, biker bar, restaurant, and lodge-style bar.
- Ojai Beverage Company – This bar has craft beers on tap with over 20 beer tasting options.
- The Ojai Pub – The pub has specialty cocktails, an extensive wine menu, craft beer list with both a patio and inside area.
- Tipple & Ramble – A wine bar with a cozy indoor and outdoor area along with an extensive wine list.
- Wallace Neff Heritage Bar – Located within the Ojai Valley Inn, this bar serves classic cocktails with a modern twist.
Where to Shop In Ojai
Ojai is filled with little, quirky shops. Whether you are looking to purchase something unique for your home, bring back a souvenir, find cool jewelry, or vintage clothing, you’ll surely find some treasures on your shopping adventure here. Here are a few cool places to shop in Ojai:
- Bart’s Books
- Ojai House
- Ojai Valley Inn Retail Shops
- Treasures of Ojai
- Tipple & Ramble
- Summer Camp
- Fig Ojai
- Glo West
- Hattie Ojai
- Jones & Company
When Should I Visit Ojai?
With an average year-round temperature in the 70s Fahrenheit, there isn’t a bad time of year to visit Ojai.
Hotel rates are slightly higher in the summer months between June and August, but you can find some good deals in the spring and the fall.
Throughout the year, the city has a large number of festivals and outdoor events. Some great events not to check out are:
- Ojai Music Festival
- Ojai Wine Festival
- Ojai Valley Lavender Festival
- Ojai Playwrights Conference
- Ojai Day
- Ojai Studio Artists Tour
- Ojai Film Festival
- Taste of Ojai
Related Post: Ultimate Guide To The Best Festivals Around The World
How To Get To Ojai
Ojai is located just southeast of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara has a small, local, stress-free airport, Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), which serves a number of domestic routes via Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, United, and Alaska Airlines.
The closest international airport to Ojai is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). You can fly into LA, rent a car, and take a scenic 80 miles (about 2 hours depending on traffic) drive up to Ojai.
Ojai Ultimate Guide Wrap Up
I hope you found this Ojai guide helpful. There are so many cute towns across California but Ojai is a special little town that is well worth spending a long weekend in.
It’s a great place to visit if you want to relax, unwind and slow down. And if you’re interested in visiting other areas in California, you can check out all our Californian articles for inspiration.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Ojai! If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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