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Ojai

Relax in this small Ventura County town known for its pink sunsets

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The word “Ojai” is Chumash for “nest.” No surprise there, because when you visit this Ventura County town—tucked in the valley of the Topatopa Mountains at the southern edge of the Los Padres National Forest—you definitely feel like you’ve found a comfortable refuge.

Located some 80 miles from Los Angeles and 35 miles from Santa Barbara, Ojai makes an easy getaway, too, whether you crave quaint or luxe lodgings. For a five-star experience, stay at the Ojai Valley Inn, a sprawling resort that’s famous for its spa but also offers multiple restaurants, an award-winning golf course, and more—all open to the public as well. Or, check out the cabin-chic Ojai Rancho Inn—a cute, no-frills spot known for its knotty pine and close proximity to Ojai’s town center. For easy access to hiking and biking, stay at the Blue Iguana Inn, where room options include cottages equipped with fireplaces, private patios, and full kitchens; the art-filled boutique inn is located right off the Ojai Valley Trail, which extends all the way to the Pacific Ocean. 

Wherever you stay, you’ll want to wander the mile-long strip of shops and restaurants dotting downtown’s Ojai Avenue. Pick up cute local handcrafted goods, candles, or a pun-perfect “Oh, hi” T-shirt at Summer Camp. Stop in at Beacon Coffee for sustainably sourced and reasonably priced oat milk lattes and peruse the adjacent craft and handmade goods shop, Cattywampus Crafts. Then walk a couple blocks off Ojai Avenue for Bart’s Books, the largest independently owned outdoor bookstore in the country.

Ojai Valley’s Mediterranean climate makes for a variety of produce, including grapes and olives, so that means there’s no shortage of good wine and food, too. Start with Ojai Olive Oil, a third-generation family-owned certified organic olive farm that offers oils and balsamic vinegars in its tasting room. For more locally sourced cuisine, go to The Nest of Ojai, with its Instagram-ready salads, sandwiches, and cocktails. Or try longtime favorite Farmer and the Cook, beloved for its baked goods, smoothies, and pizza. AZU Restaurant & Bar offers California-style global cuisine—like a pesto-accented paella, braised short rib tacos, and creamy cotija polenta—paired with locally made beers from sister company Ojai Valley Brewery.

The Central Coast is wine country, of course, and Topa Mountain Winery is a must-see, thanks to its expansive grounds and scenic mountain views. The dog- and kid-friendly winery opens up to the Ojai Valley Trail and, on most weekend evenings, hosts live music and food trucks. It’s also a great place to catch the town’s best daily view: the Ojai “Pink Moment,” a breathtaking watercolor sunset phenomenon resulting in the shadow of the setting sun casting down on bluffs of the Topatopa Mountains.

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