Ojai, California is a small Spanish Mediterranean town nestled in a magical spot between hills and mountains and surrounded by orange groves. Its name comes from the native American word nest and that aptly describes this gem of a town. Besides its architecture which makes it very picturesque, you can look out from most any spot in Ojai and see magnificent mountains that turn a dreamy pink every evening at sunset.
‘Keep Ojai Lame,’ is one motto people who live there like and I dig that. People do their own thing here. It has a hippy, organic and new age culture that is very Californian. A hopping town, cute historic neighborhoods, orchards and fields make up this 10 mile long by 3 mile wide town. Small businesses thrive here as chains have been banned which makes for a creative retail and restaurant scene. Ojai is also home to its own film festival, a music festival and a playwright’s conference and is a getaway destination thanks in part to the world famous Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.
I was lucky to be invited to spend a weekend at a beautiful home in Ojai as part of a 50th birthday celebration for my dear friend Ani. I was always meaning to get down to Ojai, so I was excited to get this chance to see it. Ani’s sister Alex, (the two of them above..yes they have the same name as the bracelets), has a friend who kindly let us use his home there.
This pretty home is situated on a street with orange groves. Apparently when the orange trees are in bloom the air is heady with the scent…
Cue the Mamas & Papas.
Just a few photos of his Mediterranean abode. All the beautiful arches, big windows, oaks and views were to die for. It was truly a California dream home.
View from the covered pool, to the surrounding mountain ranges.
Loved this bed and its simple natural accouterments.
The home was surrounded by old oaks, and around the pool were citrus, pomegranates, figs and what I think were coffee trees too! Ojai has the perfect growing conditions- warm days and cool nights. I had hot water with fresh lemon to drink every morning.
Ready to move in? I was!
I loved all the curtains in this house, especially these from my bedroom which fit the vibe of the home.
We had a great fun celebrating Ani who has been my friend for over 30 years. It was a weekend of shopping, wine tasting, and eating, of course. We even cooked spaghetti squash pasta one night with the produce we bought at the Ojai Farmer’s Market and had a blast dancing to around the house after. Yes some wooden spoons may have been used as stand-in microphones. 😀
Making Aperol Spritzes. How do you like these hilarious drinking buddies glass markers Alex found? The names cracked us up. I had Brad. You can get them here.
A few places to get to if you are in Ojai:
Sunday we spent the day at the Ojai Inn with the morning at Spa Ojai where I had a facial (amazing) and lunch at the cute Jimmy’s Pub set on the edge of the golf course.The whole property is really pretty and there are little bikes for guests to make use of between the spa, pools and restaurants on site.
The weekend we were there they had a band playing under the oak trees which were hung with lanterns. There are fire pits to sit by and have a glass of wine or a meal, and kids are encouraged to run and play on this part of the golf green. A good mix of couples, families and friend groups all seem to be enjoying the views and the weather which is beautiful and mild, but can get quite cold after the sun sets.
Alex working a Jackie Collins look with Ollie at the Ojai Inn. Many beautiful spots there.
One night we had special birthday dinner for Ani at a terrific Italian restaurant, Nocciola. Set in a darling historic home, Nocciola has a cozy vibe and wonderful food and service plus a great bar and cocktails.
The cake was specially ordered by Alex from Sweet Lady Jane Bakery in L.A. Isn’t it lovely? It was filled with berries and cream.
The Vine Wine Bar & Restaurant is a gathering spot for locals of all ages who come to listen as well as dance. Some incredible live music here and the bands change daily. If you like music this is so much fun!
Osteria Monte Grappa calls itself an ItalAgriGastroBar and features some fantastic local produce like the citrus avocado Insalada Amica. They have a lovely patio to sit in the sun if you want and will bring a bowl of water if you have a dog as we did.
Our friend Simone enjoying the patio.
Bart’s Books is a landmark open air bookstore open 7 days a week 9 a.m. until sunset. When the doors are locked, you can buy books stocked on the outside by throwing coins under the door. For reals! This place is one of a kind and if you like books and groovy things, get there!
Strolling down the main street there are many great small shops! We fell in love with Soultonic, appealing to your inner Stevie Nicks, it has beautifully embroidered caftans and blouses as well as cool rocker t-shirts. Their postcards alone are worth a stop in.
The home stores were so good down here with Fig, where you can find beautiful linens as well as garden things, art and more squeezed into the littlest alley.
Don’t miss deKor&Co. where you can get a wonderful Ojai orange scented candle to bring home. Many inspiring vignettes- and ideas here for that California casual at home look.
Down Home Furnishings was my favorite- so many cool things! This shop is owned by a mother and daughter and they have an amazing eye and a beautifully curated collection like no where else. I fell in love with this dining table and I managed to buy it and it’s getting shipped this week to me!
After hitting the long row of shops on the arcade you may want to stop for a little wine tasting on the cute patio of The Ojai Vineyard, which is uniquely from the central coast region and has stayed small. We enjoyed an hour on their patio which was dog friendly and is right off the main street.
The birthday girl, Ani and her pup, Ollie at The Ojai Vineyard.
We also shared a bottle of bubbly and watched the pink sunset at the family friendly and popular hangout Topa Mountain Winery.
The Sunday Farmer’s Market was excellent. As you can imagine they have a terrific bounty of produce in this area as well as many locally made items and natural, organic products. I even saw the beautiful model Shalom Harlow there. We were both shopping for persimmons and I loved her farmer’s market style with her moccasins, blanket poncho and colorful bags.
Ojai is a great getaway for its blend of stellar beauty and unique culture, architecture and its focus on the natural. It just feels good to soak up a bit of sun there and take in the scenery.
Getting there you can fly into Santa Barbara and from there it’s a 45 minute drive. From LAX where I flew into, it’s about a 2 hour drive on a Friday.
The Ojai Inn as mentioned above is the top place to stay, but check out Airbnb’s funky selection for Ojai here. Everything is minutes away from everything else and we Uber’d and drove around when we couldn’t get there on foot.
All photographs property of NCalStyle.
What a fun trip! wE went there some years ago and loved it. there was an art festival when we visited and we bought a cute watercolor that is one of our favorites!
Kelley, I love that you got something special. I would love to go to the art festival- or any of them! I DEFINITELY want to get back there. I asked and so many people up in Northern Cal haven’t been. I think it’s off the radar for many of us as we have Napa, etc. This place is one of a kind! xo
LOVE the post and your new look KIm! I have always wanted to go to Ojai since coming to Cali from NY Thanks for the tips! Kathryn K
Kathryn, Thanks so much! It was time for a change. I hope you get to beautiful Ojai. It’s been terrible for them with the fires. Fortunately they seem to be mostly spared. Maybe you can go in 2018! xx
Truly, Kim, Ojai is one OF A KIND..I LOVED YOUR PICTURES AND TEXT…THIS IS PERHAPS MY FAVORITE OF YOUR CALIFORNIA TRAVELS…..AND THE DINING TABE AND CHAIRS IS JUST PERFECT…THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR WEEK-END….OLLIE LOOKS LIKE A SNUGGLE BUG…HUGS, DEEDE
Thank you Deede, It was a great spot. I hope I can get back someday! I just got my table and chairs last night. I think the husband was going to kill me- table weighs 300 pounds! Ollie was a doll. He was our buddy and even snuggled with me in bed. I would love a doggy like him! 🙂
Love reading this post (not sure why this is all in caps?) – I’ve been going to Ojai for over 40 years, when the Ojai valley Inn was just two small buildings. We go many times a year and for the last two, have spent thanksgiving weekend there with our kids and grandkids. They have wonderful places to horseback ride too. it’s my magical place.
Thanks Kathy! Sorry the new text here is all caps- annoying it seems for many people. Will try to change that. I loved your photos of Ojai you posted over the Thanksgiving break. I didn’t know it started so small. Wonderful you guys have gone all these years. I can totally see you loving it there. Such a beautiful environment and a real artist community! Magical is how I see it too.
I love the new look of your blog–so professional and attractive !
Ojai looks sweet. There’s also a used bookstore in Bolinas where you can just leave money ; as I remember the suggestion is $.50 for an “OK” book, $1 for a good book, and $2 for a fantastic book–love it!
Hi Mary thank you! Bolinas is quite a gem isn’t it? I haven’t been in years and need to get back there. I have to check out the bookstore. It sounds like my kind of place.
KIm, I always love your travel posts! I am so inspired to plan a trip to Ojai now! What a wonderful girls getaway and so special to celebrate a long time friend on her special birthday! Looks like you had wonderful weather and the home you stayed at looks fabulous! I hope you plan to blog more about your summer travels to Europe- I always love your pics and travel stories! April xo
Thank you April. Was great to get there and celebrate in such a pretty spot. I think you would love it. Still planning on blogging the summer trip!! I love your travels too. xoxo