Ojai, CA is an idyllic town of approximately 7,500 people and is less than an hour from the arguably more famed wine and resort destination of Santa Barbara. While it doesn’t quite garner the same attention as its neighbor to the west, Ojai is just as relaxed and charming. The town is worthy of a weekend visit and at minimum a full day in Ojai.
How to Spend a Perfect Day in Ojai, CA
It’s easy to spend a perfect day here because of the architectural beauty, easy walkability, and friendliness of the establishments that make up the town. It’s perfect for a couple’s weekend getaway, a girls’ trip, or a solo adventure. There’s much to be uncovered in this picturesque place.
Afternoon Wine Tasting in Ojai
Napa, Paso Robles, and Santa Barbara all get their fair share of wine exposure, but Ojai isn’t a place to be overlooked when it comes to tasting rooms. Majestic Oak Vineyard and Winery is tucked below the main street of downtown Ojai in a not-so-secret garden that’s a relaxing place to enjoy a glass of red (which they’re known for) and chat among friends.
The Ojai Vineyard is located within walking distance from Majestic Oak and has a beautiful and slightly larger tasting room. The building was once an old bank and the restoration of it is picture-perfect for a place to try out some regional sips.
End your wine tasting at Topa Mountain Winery, which has indoor seating and room at the bar for wine tasting, but the real fun is outside on their sprawling grounds with plenty of tables, chairs, and misters. They typically have a food truck that pulls up for people to purchase food, but the place also allows guests to bring in their own eats. It’s not uncommon for wine drinkers to order a pizza for delivery or bring extravagant homemade picnic spreads. One of the best options is to first stop by Marche Gourmet Delicatessen and allow them to create a cheese plate or charcuterie board to go as well as a couple of their specialty salads.
Where to Eat in Ojai
There’s an Ojai ordinance that prohibits chain restaurants with the exception of Jersey Mike’s that snuck in as the exception since it was already in existence prior to the new rule. That means visitors can support local businesses that get most of their produce and meat from local markets and farmers. Taking the Ojai Food Tour is an excellent way to maximize your afternoon, while also sampling some of the top dishes and learn more about the town.
The Ojai Beverage Co. is ideal for lunch or dinner. The portions are significant, the dishes are delicious, but it’s the friendly, laid-back service that makes this a must-try on your visit. Not sure what to get? The Ribeye Melt is a mountain of meat so tender that it melts into the Muenster cheese and caramelized onions that top it. On your way out, grab a bottle of wine or beer by the can from the fully stocked store at the front of the restaurant.
Stop at the Ojai Valley Museum
Ojai Valley Museum is a good starting point when spending the day in Ojai because it’s near the start of the town’s main street. You can miss the beautiful architecture of the building that was once the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, visitors can learn about the history of Ojai, view local artwork, and become further immersed in the culture of the area.
It’s a museum, research library, and visitors’ center all in one, which means it has something for everyone. As a non-profit, they do take suggested entrance fee donations of $5 for adults and $1 for children.
The Best Time to Visit Ojai, CA
It can heat up in Ojai, but mornings usually start cool. April is considered Pixie Month, the time when Pixie tangerines are in season. There’s an annual festival that celebrates the fruit and the restaurants feature specialty items on their menus. Everywhere you go, there will be a faint scent of citrus that lingers thanks to these ripe wonders.
The weather during this time of year hovers around the high 60s, but for a weekend getaway or a day trip (depending on how close you live), any time of the year is bound to be a fun time.
A Few Fun Facts about Ojai, CA
- The beloved Bart’s Books is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S. Take your time to wander through the stacks because they go further back than what is visible from the street.
- Depending on who you talk to, Ojai is also known for its calming effect thanks to its spiritual vortex. Even if you’re not a believer, you can sense the serenity of the town and appreciate the alternative medicine offerings.
- More than a few celebrities call or have called Ojai home. Among the city’s list of famous residents are Reese Witherspoon, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Selleck, and Britney Spears.
Ojai, CA Budget Hotels
Ojai is a place where visitors tend to splurge to stay at one of their well-known resorts. Airbnb is a more affordable route, but depending on the season, there are still reasonable accommodations.
Hummingbird Inn offers a stay for around $100 per night and includes free WiFi, free parking, and complimentary breakfast. It’s one mile from Los Padres National Forest and a few blocks from downtown. Guests enjoy the comfortable coziness of the low-key space.
The Capri is another budget-friendly option that has a bohemian flair also located near downtown Ojai. Guests receive free breakfast, WiFi, and parking at this modest motel.
Read More About California
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. 52 Perfect Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Courtney Hartmann is a freelance writer and social media junkie. Korea-born and Kansas-bred, this girl has a zest for life on the move. She’s called both coasts home, NYC for a brief period and San Diego since 2010, to explore new opportunities and fun adventures. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram at @mscourtneybeth.