Art galleries, spas, and hikes are all on the menu for a Weekend Get-Away in fabled Ojai. Just ninety minutes from Los Angeles and half an hour from the surfers of the Ventura coast, visitors can also pet a long-lashed Alpaca at El Paca Pastures or pick “pixie” tangerines for the freshest, organic citrus at Churchill Orchard.
Bart’s Outdoor Bookstore beckons all bibliophiles, and the new moveable feast Eating Ojai Food Tour can treat and teach with tastings of tamales, coffees, beers, pastries, and more. For the ultimate artfully crafted "take home" souvenir, pick your favorite designs from the many brilliant custom tiles at RTK Studios.
Every Spring, Ojai also offers additional seductive enticements for visitors to escape and renew with creative festivals. Booking tickets now saves seats and also provides a passport to a wonderful weekend getaway, Ojai-style.
“Once upon a time...’ signals the start of something quite creative at the 13th annual Ojai Storytelling Festival, with first-class word-weavers and themed sessions ranging from “Family Fest” to “Naughty Tales Under the Tent,” and from “Ghost Tales” to “Laughing Night.” Enjoy encores and more at the “Theater of the Spoken Word.”
“Celestial Dress” is encouraged, as Ojai celebrates “the first annular Solar Eclipse in 18 years” with the Ventura Jazz Orchestra Sextet for a “Bowlful of Sol” in the Libby Bowl. 5-8pm, $15 admission.
May 26 and 27
The oldest nonprofit art center in California, the Ojai Art Center, presents the 35th annual Art in the Park, a memorable Memorial Day weekend of paintings, sculptures, and mixed media.
The 65th annual Ojai Music Festival conjures contemporary eclecticism with sounds and events. This year’s program even offers a “West Coast premiere of an expansive spatial work for 48 percussion and piccolo players throughout Libby Park.”
Part of the charm of Ojai with fewer than 10,000 residents, is its intimate village feel, but the cozy atmosphere usually requires advance booking for premium bed-space in cottages and suites, especially on Festival Days. Two great places in the center of town are the award winning Oaks at Ojai on the main street, and the enchanting B & B, Lavender Inn nearby.
The Oaks offers an appealing range of spa treatments and some of the accomodations include fireplaces, Jacuzzi bathtubs, and private courtyards. Healthy classes through-out the day are part of the guest package, including some in the heated pool. Sheila Cluff, the dynamo woman who founded the fitness destination 30 years ago, still leads the early morning walks when she isn’t on the road speaking.
The lovely Lavender Inn, once a school, is now home to the esteemed Ojai Culinary School and every guest room is unique. The Inn and gardens provide peaceful niches for curling up with a good book or a friend.
For an Ojai wine to take home or to a festival, the Casa Barranca Wine Tasting Room offers generous tastings right in the middle of town.For delectable eating in Ojai, Suzanne’s and the Ranch House are the more famous restaurants. Fresh-food fans will not be disappointed at Feast Bistro, especially if they talk to chef Susan Coulter about her fresh choices. The artwork, live music, and delicious tapas at Azu are worth a reservation. Fans of authentic Mexican cuisine, can ask Leticia Salinas about her grandmother’s recipes or the story behind the “Nector of the Gods” at Los Caporales, and then go to the bar next door to get her husband Ruben's recommendations about over one hundred tequilas.
Salud! There's lots to toast about at festal Ojai!
NOTE: The travel writer enjoyed being an invited guest for some of the experiences above, a paying customer for others, and a potential audience member for yet others She thanks those who sponsored her, but it didn’t influence her evaluations.
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