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Ojai in Ventura County California, A Perfect Family Vacation

 


Visiting
Ojai
Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce
Su Nido Inn
Lavender Inn
Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours
Ojai Olive Oil
Old Creek Ranch Winery
Bodee’s Rancho Grande
Azu Restaurant
 

ABOUT OJAI

The setting for the beautiful community of Ojai looks like something out of a movie and it’s no surprise that movie stars and movie buffs have found this beautiful little oasis a magical getaway for decades. Now families are discovering the same.

Situated in a ten mile long valley surrounded by hills, mountain vistas, and perfumed with seemingly endless orchards of fragrant citrus groves and orchards, Ojai encompasses the least populated incorporated area in the county. This beautiful valley provides a peaceful getaway for traveling families looking for serenity and a slower pace of life.

Ojai is lined up geographically with an east-west mountain range, making it one of few towns on the globe to have a “Pink Moment” which occurs as the sun is setting, just as the fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink for several minutes on the Topatopa Bluffs at the east end of the Valley.

FESTIVALS
Ojai is a cultural hub and home of the Ojai Film Festival, showcasing world famous independent films since 2000.

Its music festival has been going strong for over a half a century and showcases performances by some of the world’s top musicians and composers. Moreover, Ojai is also home to the annual  Ojai Playwrights Conference, yet another famous festival. This two week long festival draws professional writers and actors from across the country.

The Ojai Storytelling Festival is another well received festival drawing visitors from around the globe.

The Lavender Festival in June celebrates everything Lavender including plants, products, and cooking.

The peacefulness of Ojai, along with the Mediterranean climate and beautiful fertile valley, makes this a perfect family vacation option for a getaway.

Su Nido Inn

WHERE TO STAY
Staying at Su Nido is a fantastic choice for a luxurious yet family-friendly abode away from home.

With Mission Revival Style suites luxuriously appointed, your clan may choose to stay in for
awhile and just soak up the ambiance of this charming inn and its tranquil
mission style courtyard. Delightfully comfortable beds, kitchenettes, delicious and
healthy snacks, and pure tranquility are just a few reasons to consider this centrally located
and relaxing locale. Everything downtown is within a short walking distance. Perfect for toddlers and strollers!

Another possibility is the lovely Lavender Inn. This historic bed and breakfast in what
once a schoolhouse, provides elegance and serenity in a lovely garden setting and
atmosphere. Delightful homemade, gourmet breakfasts enjoyed in the gardens are the epitome of relaxation. To further provide an oasis of peace, joy, and relaxation, the Lavender Inn is also home of the Lavender Spa and Ojai Culinary School.

Samplings at Ojai Olive Oil

WHAT TO DO

We took a remarkable tour with Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours.  Our sightseeing adventure shared an adventurous and educational glimpse of Ojai which exposed us to the history, gourmet flavors, and to many qualities the Ojai Valley offers visitors. Perfect for kids, our guide stopped numerous times to allow us to touch, smell, and learn about all the abundant herbs, flowers, and plants.

Very convenient for first time visitors who aren’t familiar with the area, Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours provides door-to-door service from all area hotels. This allows participants a few hours to sit back, relax, and enjoy the majesty of the valley from their canopied, custom, open-air Jeeps.

Quiet winding country roads, off-the-pavement dirt trails, secret gardens, and hard to reach exclusive vistas were part of our excursion. Our off-roading trek into the foothills gave us an opportunity to witness lake, mountain, and valley views along with the flora and fauna of the area.

We thoroughly enjoyed sampling local gourmet olive oils at Ojai Olive Oil. Some were from century old heirloom trees and the flavored and vintage varieties were astounding. We loved the basil, and mandarin flavored oils. It was a very educational and interesting stop.
 
The grand finale of our tour took us to a sampling and wine tasting at Old Creek Ranch Winery. The peaceful grounds and excellent wines were a wonderful ending to our Jeep Tour. We (the grown ups) delighted in several outstanding Syrahs and an unusual Albarino Ice Wine. The grounds are a great place for kids to explore and get some energy out.

Dining at Bodee's

WHERE TO EAT
With the Ojai Valley being a richly fertile and surrounded by agricultural areas, it makes
sense that Ojai offers diners a unique experience in an authentic farm to fork experience.
For the most scenic and serene family dining experience in the valley you must dine at Bodee’s.

The setting is spectacular as you dine outside next to a meandering creek in a waterscaped patio setting amongst beautiful plants. Refreshingly savory and fresh fare featuring locally and on-site grown produce prepared in the generations-old and original Bodee’s style make this a delectable culinary treat.

Exceptionally prepared steaks, melt in your mouth ribs, fresh sea food, unique appetizers, and desserts are all painstakingly prepared and accompanied with delicious fresh delights grown right on the premises. Even the cocktails (for mom and dad) are true works of art. You’ll want to order the special sangria.

Third-generation-owner Michele Cromer-Bentivolio is as committed as her ancestors to
providing all her guests with a thoroughly unique and memorable dining experience as she
works to preserve her Ojai legacy. She succeeds in every facet as this is an absolute must stop in Ojai. You will also want to check out Bodee’s Rancho Grande, a spectacular back country ranch experience for families. This could be the highlight of the trip (or a future one) for the kids.

Azu Restaurant in downtown Ojai makes their own wonderful gourmet gelato (the kids will devour) and offers another dining experience using fresh meats and produce from locals farms in Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine.

For lunch, Osteria Monte Grappa offers the most extensive, full, authentic Italian menu one could find. Delightful gourmet delicacies are overflowing on the menu and served on the patio. This restaurant surprises with outstanding quality and attention to detail in every offering. Such a lovely outdoor setting makes it perfect for kids to keep them happy and interested as they watch the goings-on in town.

Perfect for breakfast or brunch, the Ojai Cafe Emporium serves hearty portions of gargantuan homemade muffins and scones along with typical fresh entrees once would expect from a well-known breakfast cafe.

If you truly appreciate farm fresh produce served in delightfully varied and enticing ways, then you’ll want to spend some time in Ojai’s best farm to fork eateries.

Ojai is much more than beautiful; it’s a bouquet of flavors, colors, aromas—a true family road trip experience to delight the senses.


Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Road Trips for Couples.

 
 
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