The idyllic town of Ojai feels a world apart from frenetic city life, thanks to its laid-back, artsy vibe and embrace of all things wellness. In recent years, the diminutive California town (population: 7,400) has undergone a quiet renaissance, with new restaurants, shops, art galleries, and hotels cropping up. Here are 10 great places to explore.
1. For coffee and pastries, head to Love Social Café, where locals catch up over chai tea lattes and raspberry muffins on a sunny patio.
2. On Sundays, don’t miss the lively Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, which takes over 2 parking lots. A few dozen farms and purveyors offer seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as hot sauces, jams and preserves, olive oils, and bread. Look for Fat Uncle Farms’ almonds and fresh citrus from Friend’s Ranches.
3. At Heavenly Honey Company, second-generation beekeeper Barbara Haskins leads visitors through honey tastings and explains the differences between raw and commercial honeys. Try the wild blackberry and the orange blossom.
4. Across the street from Heavenly Honey Company, you’ll find graphic tees, denim goods, throw blankets, and candles at the lifestyle shop Canyon Supply.
5. Housed in a historic building dating back to 1874, Porch Gallery showcases contemporary art by local and international artists. The gallery also sells “art you can eat” Beato Chocolates: dark chocolates made with impressions of molds by legendary Ojai ceramicist Beatrice Wood.
6. When hunger calls, head to healthful, plant-based Hip Vegan. Choose from wraps, burgers, and sandwiches. Try the jackfruit carnitas torta or the spicy baguette, a vegan take on bánh mì that’s loaded with tofu, carrots, and fresh herbs.
7. At Bart’s Books, an Ojai institution since 1964, bookcases face the street and wrap around a central courtyard, with patrons leaving cash (prices are noted on the first blank page) in exchange for books.
8. Splurge on a one-of-a-kind guided eco-tour of herbalist Carol Wade’s Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden in Ojai’s East End. Designed as a nautilus shell, the 11 main garden beds correspond to human body systems, and each section is planted with herbs and flowers that are especially supportive to that system’s function. Adults, $110.
9. Capture the sunset view of the Topa Topa Mountains from Meditation Mount, a nonprofit meditation center and beloved Ojai spot, which recently reopened after being heavily damaged in the 2017 Thomas Fire. Admission by appointment, $10.
10. Come evening, make your way to hip Topa Topa Brewing Company, the 3-year-old Ojai outpost of a Ventura brewery. In addition to 16 beers on tap, Topa Topa serves Southeast Asian–inspired cuisine by Little Sama Ojai that might include dishes such as steamed bao buns, gado gado, and fried rice, depending on the season. You’ll often find live music, too (and be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol).
Free Ventura County maps are available at your local AAA branch.
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