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From the bohemian styled boutiques and art galleries to their Spanish-style architecture, and the incredible hospitality at Ojai Valley Inn, I’ve found my new local haven for relaxation. Ojai was one of those special places that draws you in and I can’t wait to plan my next visit.
Just under a two hour drive from Los Angeles, tucked away between hills and mountains in a valley originally settled by the ancient Chumash Indians, lies Ojai.
Growing up I’d heard about it; hearing more about their hot springs than anything else. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I started to hear stories of its beauty and charm.
It took quite some time and a last minute canceled trip to Mexico and an overwhelming sense of needing to get away and recharge to impulsively book a stay at the Ojai Valley Inn.
My friend and photographer Felicia and I showed up mid-day. The air was warm the grounds were beautiful and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming. You know those places that instantly speak to you? That make you feel like you’ve belonged there all along? That’s what we felt when we arrived at Ojai Valley Inn.
We quickly unpacked and were eager to adventure the property.
To give a brief history; the Chumash Indians believed that the valley in which Ojai lives held mystical powers. It’s a place they felt was a driving force of energy, a vortex have you. Regardless of whether or not you believe in things like energy that draw you toward something, there is something incredibly special about Ojai that does draw you in.
A quick drive into town and you’re welcome by bohemian styled boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. The artisans that own these small businesses are part of what keeps Ojai so unique.
Picturesque Spanish-style architecture with a bell-tower that’s housed on the main street. Every staircase is adorned with colorful and intricately designed tiles reminiscent of Spain or Mexico. The people are mostly locals who were born there and couldn’t be friendlier offering tips on where to explore.
We visited Ojai Harvest for dinner at the recommendation of the concierge team at Ojai Valley Inn. We arrived just before sunset to a patio decorated with Spanish tiles, agave plants and potted olive trees (my fave) with tables for outdoor seating and patio lights strung overhead. We first stepped into the Ojai Harvest Bar. The decor was great – old quilts filled with decades of history sat atop a ledge just under the ceiling that were perfectly styled. The vibe was slightly rustic and kind of moody but in an inviting way that makes you want to pull up a stool and chat for hours.
We imbibed on a Wilder Cup & Harvest Margarita. They were prepared with lots of love and beautiful to look at it. Following the cocktails we ventured over to the restaurant. It was just as inviting with more light entering in from the windows. We chatted with our server with whom we found out was born and raised in Ojai and had raised her children there as well. She was lovely.
We sat outside under the tea lights by the olive trees and moved on to wine. We ordered a cheese plate (of course). It arrived on a board and couldn’t be more picturesque. From the perfectly toasted and stacked bread, to the colorful and edible marigolds and delectable cheeses, this was one for the books. It was simple but the cheese pairings with the prosciutto, capers and grapes was exactly what I needed. Perhaps it was the cool breeze, the wine and that energy the Chumash talked about because it was a beautiful evening.
Meanwhile back at the Inn….
We decided to have a nightcap (because why not?) at the Oliveella Bar. I loved everything about it. The lights were dimmed now that the dinner crowd was winding down. The fireplaces were lit and it was the perfect setting to unwind before bed.
The next morning the fog rolled in an coated the sky. It was beautiful. We walked the grounds to explore. We ordered breakfast on the patio and by the time it arrived the fog had cleared, the sun was out and the air was warm. The bacon was crisp to perfection and the juice was freshly squeezed. Our waffles were fluffy and the homemade whipped cream melted on our tongues; we enjoyed every bite. One last peruse around the grounds to walk off breakfast and we couldn’t help but admire all of the beautiful landscaping. Cottage roses, birds of paradise and more olive trees.
As we drove away we passed one of the Ojai Valley trolleys – a staple in town that adds to the quaintness of Ojai.
I came seeking inspiration, rest and adventure. I left with much more than that and a fully belly.
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