With our COVID vaccines in the bag, we felt like it was time to get out of town for a bit and stretch our travel legs. There are so many great places to visit in California that there’s no need to hop on a plane to getaway to somewhere spectacular! One of our favorite spots is just outside of Santa Barbara and an easy drive from home—Ojai.
We’ve been there a couple of times now, and each time we go we discover a new shop or restaurant or trail that we fall completely in love with. This little town packs a big punch, and if you’re ever in the SoCal area we recommend taking a weekend to explore it!
Whenever we travel, I love to make very detailed itineraries. Half the fun of it for me is researching and planning all the fun things that we’ll do! My itineraries have become a bit of a family joke, they’re often very detailed, and I pack a lot of activities into them; so after a few years of family trips, “follow the agenda!” has become an inside joke amongst the crackpots that I travel with. Anyway, I thought I would share my gift for travel planning with the wide world, so I’ll be posting more of our itineraries here for those of you planning trips, or for those that are like me who like to imagine a lovely vacation just as much as actually going on a lovely vacation. And so, on to the agenda!
We typically drive to Ojai (it’s about four hours south of us), and arrive later in the afternoon. We like to check in to our favorite hotel in the area The Capri Hotel. This place underwent a major renovation a few years ago (we visited before and after the renovation) and it’s truly a gem. Dog friendly, kid friendly, happy hour friendly, this place has it all! Their rooms are spacious and if you’re travelling wit pups or kiddos we recommend the first floor rooms with private patios. The patio area was just as big as the room itself and provided a great place space for our little to enjoy the outdoors! The grounds are beautiful and the lush, tropical greenery always takes me back home to the gardens in Miami.
If you’re in the mood to splurge, we suggest a stay at the Ojai Valley Inn. This ranch-style property is expansive and has all the luxury fixings you could ask for! We haven’t stayed there yet, but we’ve eaten at their restaurants and golfed on their course. It’s a gorgeous place and one that we’re hoping to explore better on our next visit!
Dinner: Once we’ve check into our hotel (and enjoyed a happy hour drink by the pool), we head out to scarf down a big meal after our long(ish) drive. For delicious Mexican fare (and yummy margaritas) head over to Casa de Lago. Just make sure it’s not a Wednesday, because they’re closed on Wednesdays! Another good option with a Spanish/Mexican flair is Azu. They have a lovely patio too and great drinks!
Grab a drink at Topa Topa’s tasting room right down the street and then head home for come hotel coziness. [Images below via Topa Topa and Azu]
We’ve got two types of travelers in our family—early risers and late-sleepers—so I like to make plans for both of us. While Baby and I typically sleep in, Drew likes to head out and explore or indulge in favorite activities.
Early morning activity: Morning hike (Meditation Mount is a great spot to hike and we also frequent the gorgeous trails close to town.
Breakfast: Once we all meet back up in the hotel room and get ready, we’re all ready for a nice big breakfast! The Ojai Café Emporium has a lovely patio and the greatest, crunchiest bacon. Love Social Café has healthier, smaller options but their avocado toast is A MUST.
Lunch: On our way back to the hotel, we like to grab poolside snacks so we don’t have to leave the pool for the rest of the day! Both the Capri Hotel and Ojai Valley Inn have an incredible pool scene, and you’ll definitely want to make time to enjoy it!
Dinner: Once we’ve all showered and gotten ready for dinner, we head back out into town for some drinks and dinner. If you’ve escaped the lure of the sun-bathed pool in time for happy hour, grab some vino at The Vine or Tipple and Ramble. For dinner, herbivores will enjoy the Hip Vegan Cafe, while meat lovers will flock to Ojai Rotie. Most places have specific hours of operation, so be sure to check their websites for more info!
Early morning activity: Driving ranges and golf. Once again, Drew woke up nice and early to hit some golf balls while Baby and I were getting our much-needed beauty sleep. There are two golf courses in Ojai, and although both are very different, both got great reviews from the hubby!
Breakfast: While dad’s busy getting his golf on, Baby and I enjoy a nice slow morning with breakfast and shopping. Shopping in Ojai is my absolute favorite! We get a small breakfast at one of the yummy bakeries: Ojai Donut Shoppe, The Donut Hole, or the Marche Gourmet Delicatessen are good options for discrete but flavorful brekkies. And then after breakfast, we shop! Mom’s favorites are Bart’s Books, deKor & Co., and Summer Camp. Baby’s favorites: Kids of the Canyon and Serendipity.
Lunch: Once we’ve shopped our hearts out, we head over to Ojai Valley Inn for lunch at the Oak Grill. Their outdoor patio has the best view, and their kid’s peanut butter and jelly is pretty much the best kid’s meal I’ve ever seen. They’ve got amazing salads, refreshing cocktails, and legendary people watching! We enjoy a long lunch and walk around their grounds, before heading back home! If you’ve got a little more time to kill, grab some tasty (and always welcomed) frozen yogurt at Ojai Bliss & More before you head home!
We hope this little agenda helps spark your wanderlust and inspires you to get out and explore, whether it’s Ojai or just a local gem that you’ve been meaning to visit! Please leave any comments below on suggestions or requests and we’d be happy to reach out! Happy travels!