Living in Southern California I sometimes forget that there are so many places within a 4-8 hour travel radius that I can explore locally.
I been hearing about “Ojai” since I can recall, but for some reason I figured it was faar away and I associated it with Calistoga, probably because it also has a very famous spa/resort. In December an organizations I belong to announced that our annual Southern California conference was going to be held at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. I was confused and wondered if we were having a joint annual conference with our northern California chapters. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the map and realized Ojai was closer than Santa Barbara!
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but I did mentally note that Ojai would be visited in 2017! When I put my mind to something, I make it happen. A couple weeks ago my cousin and I drove the 1.5 hours from her house to Ojai. The drive was nothing, yet we were transported to a place that felt other wordly with a small town country feel, beautiful trees, mountains and peace & quiet. We had an agenda packed with rest and relaxation and that’s exactly what we did.
The Ojai Valley Inn is a beautiful place set in a….wait for it…. valley….. and surrounded by sprawling lush green golf courses. When you’re there you can’t help but feel relaxed. It’s like summer camp for rich families. I say that because it’s super kid friendly, it’s pet friendly (you can follow their adorable ambassador on Instagram), there are all kinds of activities like yoga, painting, stretching and biking. You can visit Libbey’s marketplace around the corner from the Linus bike stand and create a custom picnic basket and you’ll get a blanket and map showing you all the great picnic spots around the grounds. Speaking of Libbey’s you MUST try their coffee. It was so good I brought a bag of their ground beans home and I’m drinking a delicious mug of their coffee now. You can also opt to bike into town for provisions, lunch or shopping. We really wanted to do this and had planned on it, but happened to be there during the two hottest days of the year. With 100+ temperatures we opted for more pool time.
Speaking of pools. We visited 3 different pools and there is a 4th we skipped because it was the kids pool, but I wanted to visit it when I read that they show movies at that pool in the evenings. The pools are salt water, the atmosphere is pretty quiet so you can talk, nap, read and the staff doesn’t judge you when you order a Miami vice and side of bacon.
Our room looked like your average inviting hotel room, but the bathroom was heaven. I could have spent an entire day in that bathroom had I remembered to pack some bubble bath. This picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It was far more spacious, had a stand up shower with beautiful tile work and the lighting had options for bright or dim settings. The beds were also super comfortable. We read our books, took long naps, went to bed early and never once turned the television on.
We spent half a day at the infamous Spa. Having been to a handful of other spas in L.A. & Orange County, I was expecting a bit more for the prices they charge at this spa. The women’s locker room was cramped & super basic. There wasn’t a quiet room where you can take a nap or read. I was really looking forward to that. The spa cafe was a real bust and the area where you wait to be called for your service was small, overcrowded and co-ed. When people are in ill fitting robes and all greasy from massages and facials you really don’t want to be seen. My reflexology massage was great, but my hydro-facial left a lot to be desired. I wouldn’t visit this spa again.
We only had two meals at the resort. We weren’t impressed with the overpriced food so we went into town. That may sound like an inconvenience, but it’s only a 2 minute drive and you can also walk or bike there. Our best meals were at Suzanne’s Cuisine and Azu.
While you’re in town make sure to walk around. There are so many interesting shops and areas to explore. I recommend grabbing some ice cream or frozen yogurt or maybe a coffee and pastry to accompany some people watching. What I found bizarre was in between the golfers, pregnant women, senior citizens, and kids there were a couple bachelorette party groups! This I have not been able to figure out because Ojai is a quiet sleepy town. There’s no where to go out & dance, but they got dressed up anyway. There’s really nothing to do in Ojai after 10 p.m. unless I missed something. I mean there’s live music at the resort on the lawn at night if you want to sing along to “Sweet Caroline” and you can make $40 smores while other people’s kids run a muck all around you, but what bride-to-be wants that?
I’m really glad we took advantage of Ojai’s proximity and crossed this off my bucketlist. Up next for summer 2018… CALISTOGA!
Here are a few tips if you’re thinking of planning a trip to the Ojai Valley Inn:
- Pack bubble bath to take advantage of the bathtub
- Pack shampoo and conditioner their products were tiny and not the greatest
- Ask for a room with a fireplace or balcony
- Ask for a room that’s NOT on the ground floor (kids running upstairs wasn’t cool)
- Don’t hesitate to have your meals offsite
- Don’t go in July when it’s over 100 degrees
- Consider a mid-week trip (rates may be better & it might be less crowded)
- Don’t plan your day around the “pink moment” we weren’t impressed
- Buy more than one bag of Libbey’s coffee beans to bring home
- You can self park close to your room (highly recommended Saturday nights to speed up checkout & departure on Sunday)
If you have tips or recommendations for a trip to Calistoga, I’m all ears! If you’ve been to Ojai let me know what your impressions were.