Ojai California is the smallest city in Ventura County. That doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked by travelers, however. Ojai caters to visitors in many terrific ways. There is a charming and artistic downtown district to explore, breathtaking mountain scenery to savor, and plenty of health and wellness outlets that can help travelers get their spiritual cores in balance. Abundant recreation opportunities also lend to the appeal of Ojai California as a travel destination, and the city’s location is definitely a perk. Bordering Ojai to the north is the Los Padres National Forest, and it isn’t very far to the Pacific coast. Larger Southern California cities, such as Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, are within easy reach and can make for great side trip destinations. Ojai is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Los Angeles and just a 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara.
Ojai California rests in the scenic Ojai Valley. The area was inhabited by the Chumash Indians before becoming part of a Mexican land grant in 1837. American settlers started moving into the Ojai Valley in the mid-1800s, and the area was settled in the 1860s. Interestingly enough, the town that has grown into modern-day Ojai was originally named Nordhoff. Due to the fact that American feelings towards Germany had soured during the World War I era, many German and German-sounding names around the country were changed. The town of Nordhoff was officially renamed Ojai in 1917. Four years later, Ojai was incorporated as a city. No discussion about the history of Ojai California would be complete without making mention of Edward Libbey. After visiting the Ojai Valley, Libbey fell prey to its charms, and when a fire destroyed much of downtown Ojai in 1917, he more than did his part to resurrect the town. The reigning architectural style during the rebuilding process was Spanish Colonial Revival, and two major symbols of the city are good examples of this. They are the Spanish-style Arcade and the iconic bell-tower that is reminiscent of the campanile of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis in Havana, Cuba.
Promoting health, both physical and spiritual, is a major industry in Ojai. The city has even gone as far as to give itself the nickname of "The Shangri-La of Southern California." This refers in part to the soothing similarities that it has to the mystical region made famous in James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon. Finding a good spa or spiritual retreat in Ojai certainly isn’t difficult, and when you couple this with the beauty of the surrounding scenery, it becomes clear that this is a great place to escape to when a break from the stressful side of life is in order. Among the most renowned health and wellness centers in Ojai is the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa (pictured). The resort’s spa is a 31,000-square-foot oasis that provides its guests with a full array of facilities and treatments.
Lake Casitas Image: simonov (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0
One of the main draws for Ojai California visitors is Lake Casitas. Found to the near southwest of town, this reservoir supplies drinking water to area residents and helps control regional flooding. That’s not why it attracts visitors, however. Lake Casitas and its associated recreation area offer numerous activity options. Boating and fishing figure among the most popular activities that are water-related, and the surrounding Los Padres National Forest is ideal for hiking. Biking and camping are just two more recreation activities that can be enjoyed at Lake Casitas, and there is even a fun waterpark to visit during the summer.
Outdoor Recreation Image: ocad123 (flickr)
As mentioned, Ojai California offers numerous recreation opportunities, with boating, fishing, and hiking figuring among the most popular pursuits among residents and tourists alike. The Lake Casitas Recreation Area and the Los Padres National Forest are among the region’s main recreation playgrounds, so they understandably attract their fair share of visitors. Also worth keeping in mind are Libbey Park and the two main golf courses that call Ojai home. Libbey Park is found in downtown Ojai, and among other things, it offers sports fields. The two main golf courses in town are the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa course and the Soule Park Golf Course. The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa consistently ranks high among the top golf resorts in North America, while the Soule Park Golf Course is an excellent public course alternative.
Ojai Hotels & Lodging
Ojai Hotels & Lodging
Travelers who are looking for Ojai accommodations are encouraged to start their searches with the renowned Ojai Valley Inn and Spa (pictured). This luxury resort has won more than its fair share of awards and is a wonderful haven for spa enthusiasts, golfers, and all other travelers who like to indulge in the finer things in life. Ojai lodging searches shouldn’t necessarily end with the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, however. The city boasts several other wonderful hotels, with examples including the splendid Su Nido Inn, the relaxing Ojai Retreat, and the enticing Emerald Iguana Inn. This isn’t a place where you will find chain-brand lodging establishments, or chain-brand stores, for that matter. Ojai city law forbids the establishment of such chain-brand operations, opting instead to foster smaller local businesses. Thanks in part to the Lake Casitas Recreation Area and its more than 400 campsites, camping is an option when it comes to lodging in the Ojai area, and travelers who prefer vacation rentals can find plenty of those to select from as well. Rental homes are certainly in good supply, and complementing them are a number of condos.
Top image: Ken Lund (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0