There is something truly magical about Ojai, California. It's hard to explain the feeling when you're there, and mere words don't do it justice. I'm fortunate enough to live two hours away from this enchanting town and have been there several times since moving to Los Angeles three years ago. It's a spiritual epicenter with a warm and welcoming energy and close-knit community that keep you coming back for more.
The last trip I took was with Buick to launch its new 2018 Enclave Avenir, but it turned out to be so much more than that. It was a celebration of female friendships. I indulged in local wine, feasted on farm-to-table meals, and enriched my heart and soul with deep conversations. I laughed, I cried (with joy), and bonded with these incredible sisters. New friendships were made.
I was incredibly lucky to have visited Ojai before the Thomas fire raged through this region and most of Southern California, and while the towns were saved thanks to the tireless work of local firefighters, most of the mountains were burned. But now it's back and the surrounding environment is blooming back to its former beauty. If you're interested in planning a trip, here are a few things to do in Ojai (including where to stay and eat) that I highly recommend.
STAY: OJAI VALLEY INN & SPA
The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is truly world class. While the property itself is stunning and very European in style, the grounds and surrounding mountainscapes are simply breathtaking. They even have a sign out front upon arrival that lets you know what time the next "pink moment" is—when the mountains and sky turn pink every night at sunset. Yes, magical.
My room had views out over the expansive golf course and hillside, and needless to say, I took advantage each morning by sitting on my balcony with a coffee, breathing it all in. But aside from the views and the golf, there is an impressive gym and spa, which is one of the main attractions. We all had oxygen facials and pedicures followed by a steam room session.
There are several places to eat on the grounds too. We finished our stay with a feast at its in-house Italian restaurant, Olivella. The head chef sources all the ingredients from local valleys, ranches, orchards, farms and ocean waters. It's beyond delicious.
STAY: OJAI VISTA FARM
This restored California Spanish estate is hidden in the hills (but still within minutes of the main strip) and makes for a private and relaxing getaway. The five-bed, three-bathroom house is incredibly charming and surrounded by a lush garden and outdoor dining area. While our group didn't stay the night, we did enjoy a champagne reception, three-course meal, and wine pairings outside with the warmth of the sunset behind us.
DRINK: TOPA MOUNTAIN WINERY
The Ojai region is renowned for its local wines, and the Topa Mountain Winery is a must-visit. It hosts regular wine tastings (I highly recommend the handcrafted rosé), which you can enjoy inside its beautiful Spanish-style house or outside in the scenic gardens. The property backs onto the Ojai Valley bike trail, which runs from Ojai to the Pacific Ocean. We all rode bikes here for lunch and wine tastings from the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and luckily there's convenient bike rack where you can lock them up too.
If you really want to see the scope of beauty that the Ojai Valley has to offer, then take a short hike to the top of the Valley View Preserve and breathe in the natural environment for yourself. We had a local guide us up, and it was more than worth the physical exertion. You have 360-degree views from here, and these photos really don't do it justice, but you get the picture. Our hike was fairly short, but there are several historic trails you can take that really get your heart pounding and your eyes popping from all the natural beauty.
DO: MEDITATION MOUNT
After our hike, we took a short drive to Meditation Mount. Founded in 1971, this nonprofit center holds various group meditation sessions and courses while also being a spiritual space for visitors to relax and reflect while taking in the views of the mountainside from the international garden of peace. Unfortunately the entire surrounding area of Meditation Mount was devastated by the Thomas Fire, and the center is closed until further notice. They are working to restore the natural environment and rebuild the beauty that we were able to enjoy. Keep an eye on its website for updates on when it reopens—the energy created here has to be experienced to be believed.
DO: IN THE FIELD
This store is world-renowned yet still remains a hidden gem at the end of the main strip in Ojai. I always visit this store every time I'm in town, and I'm not alone. Even Drew Barrymore is a fan. I love that entering the store feels like you're visiting someone's insanely cool house. There's a mix of new and curated vintage clothing, jewelry, kids' clothing and toys, and a fantastic range of homewares.
The owners are a husband-and-wife duo. Bianca Roe is a fellow Australian and former Ford model, while her husband Channon is an actor, writer, and designer. Together with their son, Marlon, they've created a must-see destination store and lifestyle that we all want to immerse ourselves in. When can we move in?
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This trip was paid for by Buick. The editor's opinions are her own.