Once upon a time, Palm Springs was the hottest destination in Southern California—and not just in terms of temperature. Old Hollywood glamour, warm weather, premier golf courses, and world-renowned spas helped Palm Springs establish itself as the go-to getaway for getting out of dodge…and traffic.
But the arrival of music festivals and hipster hotels evolved Palm Springs from a quiet spot for serenity to a desert metro more ideal for poolside partying than recharging. SoCal locals were left searching for a replacement.
Enter Ojai. Smog-free air, breathtaking sunsets, and mountainside escapes all await. Here’s why you need to get to this mountainside oasis. Like, right now. Seriously, start putting on your shoes.
Located in Ventura County, Ojai is just under a two-hour drive Northwest from Los Angeles. Situated within a valley, Ojai is surrounded by the stunning Topa Topa Mountains and offers—perhaps most appealing for Angelenos—an endless supply of fresh, smog-less air. The area is also known for “The Pink Moment”—a spectacular, one-of-a-kind sunset that lights up the sky in shades of Pepto-Bismol pink. To tour Ojai stress-free (and up-close-and-personal), Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours are a visitor-friendly way, unique, and fun way to see the sights with an expert on board.
Find ultimate relaxation—and embrace the “treat yourself” mantra—with a visit to the spa. Ojai is known for being a spa oasis rich with a range of experiences for any budget. At the top of the list is the luxury Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a 31,000-square-foot space that’s been named one of the best spas in the country by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, Travel + Leisure Magazine, Town & Country Magazine, and more. Spa Ojai’s signature experience is the Kuyam, a mud treatment that pays homage to the Chumash people that call Ojai home—but you can’t go wrong with any selection from their spa menu. Closer in town, The Oaks at Ojai offers a range of spa and weight-loss treatments, while the Day Spa of Ojai and The Spa at The Lavender Inn offer menus of massages, scrubs, and specialty experiences.
Food & Drink
Anchored in seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients, Ojai offers a culinary scene that embraces farm-to-table in unparalleled ways. To get your hands on Ojai’s signature produce, citrus, olives, nuts, and lavender, the Sunday Certified Farmer’s Market lets tourists mingle with local farmers and vendors firsthand. For those looking to sit back and let the chef do the work, fine dining experiences like Suzanne’s Cuisine, Nocciola, and the East End Restaurant and Bar, along with more casual concepts including No So Vita, an adorable coffee shop, and Farmer and the Cook, a vegetarian grab-and-go concept, offer menus filled with fresh and organic dishes. For those looking for an evening drink alongside your bites, Azu Restaurant + Bar offers superb craft cocktails (and a killer fried cauliflower) and Tipple & Ramble pours glasses of wine on their hip backyard patio. Round out your culinary experiences with a visit to one of the many local tasting rooms, including the Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room, Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room, and—for foodies—the tasting room at the Ojai Olive Oil Company. To get the full Ojai food and drink experience, embark on a guided Eating Ojai Tasting Tours in the Village.
Ripe with opportunities to unplug and de-stress, Ojai is a premiere destination for improving mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. The mystical side of nature and sense of serenity found in Ojai is enough to make even traditionalists get their New Age exploration on. Expand mind, body, and soul at Meditation Mount, which offers full-moon meditations, or try the Krotona Institute‘s library of New Age texts. Soul Centered even lets visitors shop for a piece of Ojai’s spirit to bring back home. Ojai is also home to many yoga, writing, and artistic retreats.
If you’ve already heard about any of Ojai’s hotels, it’s likely the 5-diamond Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, AKA one of the most beautiful resorts in all of California. This place has been covered in every publication, praised by celebrities, and has been killing the game since they started years ago—but it certainly isn’t the only place to stay in this quaint town. More wallet-friendly—and centrally located—inns include the Emerald Iguana Inn, The Lavender Inn, and Su Nido Inn—all boasting ideal locations and cozy charm. Su Nido Inn is situated just blocks from the main stretch on Highway 33, and boasts all-suite accommodations, a courtyard perfect for taking in the warm weather, and plenty of local charm. For a more traditional hotel experience, properties including The Capri Hotel, Hummingbird Inn, and Casa Ojai help make this destination accessible for all budgets—and all types of visitors.