The Ultimate Guide to Ojai, California

The Ultimate Guide to Ojai, California

Image Credit: Capri Hotel
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The unofficial town motto of Ojai, California is “The town with nothing to do and not enough time to do it.” It’s easy to understand how the bucolic town located about 30 miles east of Santa Barbara developed that motto. You might find yourself surprised at how much time you can spend wandering between crystal shops, vegan restaurants, eco-friendly clothing boutiques, and adorable cafes. And that’s to say nothing of the world-famous bookstore Bart’s Books, or equally renowned farmers’ market. Venture just outside the downtown area and you’ll find plenty of hiking trails overlooking Ojai and the rolling green hills that surround it. Once you’ve had your fill of hiking, take one of the many yoga or meditation classes on offer in town or take a day trip to the beaches, some of which are less than 30 minutes away.

If you’re ready to pack your bags for a trip to this peaceful Southern California town, here’s what you’ll want to bring. But first, let’s talk about where you’re staying.

Where to Stay in Ojai

Luxe: Ojai Valley Inn

If I were coming back to Ojai and had a generous budget, I’d stay at this 5-star Spanish hacienda-style resort where you can lounge poolside or enjoy a massage and facial at the onsite spa. But that’s just the beginning. You can also book activities like artisan soap making, painting classes, and s’mores roasting at the hotel. They also partner with local businesses for offsite activities including a beekeeping experience, rock climbing, horseback riding, jeep tours and more. 

Of course, the  rooms themselves feature everything you’d want in a hotel room: comfortable beds, marble bathrooms, plush bathrobes, Nespresso machines and more. If you book one of the luxury rooms or suites, you’ll also get to enjoy a deep soaking tub and a fireplace. Rooms start at $709 per night. (Like I said, if I had a generous budget…)


Budget-Friendly: The Emerald Iguana Inn and The Blue Iguana Inn

If you’re looking for beautiful accommodations in Ojai for a lower price, consider either The Emerald Iguana Inn or The Blue Iguana Inn (they’re affiliated properties, if you didn’t get that from the names). The Emerald Iguana Inn is located close to downtown Ojai while The Blue Iguana Inn is on the outer city limits, closer to the beach. That said, Ojai is famously small, so it’s only about a five minute drive between the two.

The Emerald Iguana Inn is adults-only, while The Blue Iguana Inn welcomes families. Both properties are gorgeously-appointed boutique hotels with rooms, cottages, and bungalows available for rent. Reviewers love the Spanish-style decor and secluded feel of the accommodations. According to their website, rooms start at $209 per night. 


Goldilocks: Capri Hotel

If you're somewhere between a budget and a luxe stay, the Capri Hotel in Ojai is your goldilocks of havens. Built in 1963 and renovated in 2020, the newly designed space brings artful touches to its beloved mid-mod architecture. While alluring just for its photo-worthy aesthetic, there is more than meets the eye with this boutique hotel.

Centrally located in downtown Ojai, the Capri Hotel boasts luxe-approved amenities like an outdoor pool and hot tub for all day lounging and complimentary bikes for exploring the area. We love the 'choose your own adventure' flexibility! Rooms for this roadside retreat start at $310.

Once you’ve settled into your hotel room, it’s time to enjoy all that Ojai has to offer, from hiking to an idyllic downtown area to nearby beaches. Here’s what to pack for your Ojai trip. 

What to Do in Ojai

Go for a Leisurely Hike

Nestled in the Topatopa Mountains, the town practically begs you to explore the surrounding hiking trails. With diverse trail options, including Matilija Canyon and Ojai Valley Land Conservancy paths, you'll revel in whatever route you take.

Stroll the Farmer’s Market

Discover the heart and soul of Ojai through its weekly farmer's market, a vibrant collective of local flavors and artisanal goods. Held every Sunday, this market offers an array of fresh, locally-sourced organic produce, handcrafted treasures, and gourmet bites. Meet some of the local makers as you eat your way through the market. 

Visit a Local Vineyard 

Ojai's Mediterranean-like microclimate is a hidden gem tasting destination for wine lovers alike. Explore their boutique wineries amid rolling vineyard hills. Whether you're a seasoned sommelier or a novice enthusiast, the relaxed vibe and gorgeous scenery will make for an unforgettable tasting experience.

Unwind at a Yoga or Meditation Class 

If there is one thing Ojai is known for, it’s their spiritual reputation. Immerse yourself in all the scene has to offer by attending a yoga or meditation class. You are taking a vacation to relax, after all.  There are plenty of class options  for  varying skill levels at both Meditation Mount and  Light and Space.

Drive to the Beach

Ojai's enchanting valley is complemented by its close proximity to the stunning Pacific coastline. Take a leisurely drive to nearby beaches like Ventura and Carpinteria, where you can  bask in the sun, catch up on some reading, and enjoy all of SoCal’s selling points.

Hit the Local Shops

The charming downtown boasts a curated collection of one-of-a-kind boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops. Uncover locally crafted treasures, distinctive artwork, and eclectic fashion, all while supporting the local community. Make sure to check out some of the most loved stores like Bart’s Books, Summer Camp, and Modern Folk.

What to Pack for Ojai

Hikerkind - Short Sleeve Hiking Dress - $88

This bestselling dress from Hikerkind is perfect for any easy to moderate hikes you’ll find around Ojai. The compressive yet stretchy fabric makes it flexible enough for serious movement, spacious enough to wear layered over a pair of biker shorts, and tight enough to be layered under a midlayer jacket

Hikerkind - Midlayer_01 Pullover - $188

Depending on the time of year you find yourself in Ojai, average temperatures can be anywhere from the 50s to low 80s. If you’re headed out for a hike (especially an early-morning one!), a lightweight fleece pullover is a must-have. I love the quilted design and collar on this Hikerkind one, which comes in three neutral colors.  

HOKA - Hopara All-Terrain Shoe - $135

These breathable all-terrain hiking sandals are ready for any adventure in Ojai or beyond. You might even want to take them on a beach adventure (more on that in a second!), since they’re great for walking on sand, according to reviews. One happy reviewer shared, “These sandals are perfect for everyday use as well as hiking and playing in the water. I absolutely love them, they fit great and are very comfortable!” 


CALPAK - Water Bottle Holder - $42

A girl’s gotta hydrate! Luckily, this crossbody sling from CALPAK makes it easy. It can hold your water bottle (duh) but also has multiple exterior pockets to hold your phone, energy bars, sunscreen and other small essentials. It comes in seven different colors and patterns, so there’s sure to be one that matches your style. 

What to Pack for Ojai: On the Town 

FARM Rio - Blue Full of Flowers Organic Cotton Midi Dress - $220 

Can’t you see yourself walking around Ojai’s farmers’ market in this gorgeous dress? The bright shades of blue and the breezy silhouette make this a vacation essential, no matter where you’re headed. It’s currently available in sizes XXS through XL and is made with 100 percent certified organic cotton, which has a minimal environmental impact. I’d pair this with a pair of simple sandals and gold hoops, plus a woven bag for all those fresh finds from the market.


Tote Bag— Everly Knit Bag,  $148

Like practically all millennial women, I love a good tote bag. It’s roomy enough to carry basically everything you’ll need for a day wandering around Ojai and it’s style is classic enough to go with any outfit.  

Sunscreen — Cloud Cover SPF 35, $38

I don’t have to tell you that SPF is essential, whether you’re on vacation or not. This one from Kinfield earns tons of rave reviews because it blends like a dream. Plus, it’s sport-ready, reef-safe, and water-resistant—all together perfect for a Southern California trip.


Sweaty Betty - Flow Yoga Mat - $58

If your plans for Ojai involve yoga classes and meditation, then you’ll be thrilled with the number of offerings in and around town. Many of them allow students to rent or borrow mats, but if you’d rather bring your own, consider this Sweaty Betty one. The Flow Yoga Mat is lightweight, latex-free, and made with environmentally-friendly materials. 

What to Pack for Ojai: Beach Day

Swimsuit — Adriatic Bikini Top, $85 +Adriatic Bikini Bottom, $85

When you think of Ojai, you probably don’t think of beaches. But if the surf and sand are calling your name, there are several pristine beaches within an hour of your hotel. If you do, make sure to pack your swimwear! This bikini from Fin and Ray is our favorite for bopping to the beach and back. The seamless knit top is structured enough to wear as a crop top with denim shorts and no one will bat an eye. 

Sun Hat — Daisy Cruiser Hat, $139

Keep your face and shoulders protected from this SoCal sun with this straw bucket hat that has cute daisy details adorning the exterior. It’s made to be slouchy, so it easily squeezes into any crowded beach bag. You can keep it stashed while you soak up the sun and then whip it out when your skin needs protection. 

Sunglasses — Taya Sunglasses, $55

It’s not a day at the beach without your go-to sunglasses. Try these oval framed ones from Fifth and Ninth to pair with the sun hat above. The slender design makes for a subtle flare that can go with any hat or outfit. At just $55, they’re a no-brainer for your sun-filled vacation.

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