Story goes that Ojai is named after the Chumash Native Indian word for ‘moon’; and nicknamed as self-styled ‘Shangri-La’ . If you fancy a new-age weekend trip, this is your place!
Around 1.5hrs drive or c. 2.5 hours on an Amtrak from Los Angeles' Union Station (which you’ll recognise from Johnny Depp classic Nick of Time) to Ventura (and then a cab) (which you’ll recognise from Johnny Depp classic Nick of Time) the dry scent of wildflowers and shrubs will hit you when you enter town.
Driving in from Ventura you’ll first come to Meiner’s Oak. Stop off here for lunch and / or supplies from health food shop turned hang space The Farmer and The Cook.
While away some time in Bookends a book shop in across a chapel and retired airstream lazing in the dappled sunshine of a huge tree. If you are in need of some stretching and realignment to truly relax you for your stay sure to contact Arrow Heart Yoga in advance of your visit to book on a yoga class in their simple but relaxing studio or an incredible and great value thai massage with Lauren Harris.
From this little section of town jump on the Ojai Trolley (TOO CUTE!) and ride on to downtown. We stayed in the Hummingbird Inn, an adorable lodge that used to be the national park’s main hotel. We learnt that the hotel had been acquired by the Shelter Social Club (who run the gorgeous Ojai Rancho Inn in the area) along with the 50s perfection that is The Capri hotel with plans to bring the back to their former glories with relaxed pool parties and retro interiors. Look up SSC before you go to catch one of their fireside gigs or just a drink or two at the Rancho Inn.
For a small city Ojai is big on shopping. For vintage hit up 2nd Helpings and New 2 You (opposite each other on E Ojai Avenue). Be warned, as these are thrift shop prices you might go a bit mad so watch the luggage allowance for your return trip! Gorgeous homewares are to be found at DeKor and local printed gifts at Fig Living. Away from the main strip make time for Summer Camp, in a repurposed petrol station.
For eating out you are pretty spoilt with cafe breakfast / lunch spots Knead Bakery and Ojai Cafe Emporium. For evening meals we devoured mexican food with local pixie orange margaritas at Agave Maria and huge salads with craft beers at Bonnie Lu’s. Sweet treats abound at retro Ojai Ice-cream and the beautifully airy Beacon Coffee outpost.
The town is apparently a top celeb haunt (the cab driver we caught a lift with back to Ventura station said he’d been drinking beer with Woody Harrelson at a party in the mountains a few weeks before!) but rather than waste time stalking people, get your fix nosing around filming locations from Emma Stone’s Easy A - the easiest (no pun intended) would be Ojai Roasting Company right on the main strip.
The area is abundant with hiking trails, horse riding and olive oil tours so if that’s your thing just book on one before you go. While we didn’t make it up there we hear of great things from Meditation Mount where the meditation centre runs free, drop in sunrise and sunset meditation sessions and it has a killer view of the valley.
As it’s your honeymoon guys, you can allow yourselves a little luxury, right? On the outskirts of town you’ll find the exquisite 5 * Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. To really push the boat out (we’re talking about £350-400 a night) take a room here and soak up the A-list vibes. For some sneaky luxury, do as we did and book in for a Spa treatment as with any treatment you get free use of the spa. And boy, what a spa it is! We opted for the Kuyam which is a riff on a traditional Chumash Native American Indian style sweat lodge in a stunning morrocan inspired sauna room with built in mediation and natural clays to mask your body .
Directly after the treatment we were lead to a private terrace with local natural snacks and teas to rest in the dappled sun, hearing the birds in the trees. The spa itself is fairly well appointed with the usual bits and bobs but the real heart stealer is to be cosied up on the terrace that faces the mountains to experience the ‘Pink Moment’ in tranquility. You probably won’t want to leave the property after all that so book in for dinner in one of the resorts restaurants or at least grab a (very expensive!) pint in Jimmy’s Pub, an English / Irish style dark wood pub that is as eccentric as the rest of this beautiful little town.