Food Traveling The Backroads

Daytripping: Inside Ojai, CA

January 28, 2016

I moved to California in 2002, I’ve consistently visited Ojai, a small town in Ventura County that’s been growing in popularity over the last years. Only an 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, it’s now become Southern California residents’ weekend destination. If you plan on visiting Ojai, here are the places I believe you must visit, eat and drink, taste, shop and photograph (don’t forget your Ojai Map).

I moved to California in 2002, I’ve consistently visited Ojai, a small town in Ventura County that’s been growing in popularity over the last years. Only an 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, it’s now become Southern California residents’ weekend destination. If you plan on visiting Ojai, here are the places I believe you must visit, eat and drink, taste, shop and photograph (don’t forget your Ojai Map).

For Wine & Food Lovers

If you’re a food lover of any type, then Azu is a must –– especially for breakfast. Azu is an organic restaurant that features the best in tapas and contemporary American cuisine. They offer Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian choices – I personally love the Sweet Potato Waffle with a balsamic maple syrup. In the evening, they’re the official tasting room of the Alisal Vineyard, don’t miss the Viognier, Grenache and Syrah tasting flight, discover what the wine battles are about. As you sit on an old church pew, take a moment to wander through their light infused building and take in the amazing artwork on the walls.

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If you’re in the mood for a light snack, then The Kneading Company is a great place to stop for fresh coffee (sorry no espresso and no credit cards!) and pastries. They make amazing baked goods and offer local foodstuffs to satisfy any craving (and they have gluten free). If you want something less fancy than Azu but more substantial than The Kneading Company, then Ojai Pizza Company is a local favorite. You can also stop at the Westridge Market and grab some BBQ or a salad.  Once your done with the food, head over to The Ojai Vineyard and learn about the various differences in the central coast wine growing regions as you sip their amazing Pinots!

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For those of you that are true epicureans, stop by Carolina Gramm Olive Oil and taste her amazing olive oils and vinegarettes. You wouldn’t believe how amazing rosemary infused olive oil tastes with a blackberry infused vinaigrette! Here store is new so make sure you don’t miss it in the Arcade between Love Heals and Bonnie Lou’s Cafe. If you have the time, also check our her eclectic collection of tableware (it’s all for sale) and ask her about her history, she fled Germany during World War I, moved to Italy in her teens and was Chanel’s No. 5 girl.


Edible Santa Barbara and Ojai is a great resource to find all thing food in the central coast as well. Just stalk their instagram and prepare to be hungry.


 

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For Art & Nature Lovers – And Photographers

If you’re an art lover in Ojai, make sure you check out Ojai Art Center and Ojai Valley Museum of Art & History. For you lit lovers, it’s good to stop by BookEnds Bookstore, housed in an old church in Meiners Oaks –– it features new, use and antique books. The store is open from 10-6pm daily, closed Wednesdays. For a complete look at the local art scene, check out Arts About Town, they offer in-depth listings of local art happenings, galleries and seasonal events. For those of you that want breathtaking views, make sure you see Meditation Mount, a 32-acre conservation area that features local community events and meditation. The small trails offer amazing views of the valley.

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If you’re heading out (but not until your finish this article!) then take the 150 as your backroad to Santa Barbara, it’s way better than 101!


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For Retail Lovers

Ojai has come home to many amazing stores filled with vintage finds, artisan goods and apparel collections not found elsewhere. There are five stores that I recommend anyone visit. The first is FIG, a curated living gallery owned by Victoria Johnson. FIG carries small home accessories, candles, tableware and some amazing jewelry.

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The entrance the store is somewhat hidden and is like entering a secret garden. The second store is Summer Camp, a 1950 gas station turn retail camping adventure and framing store by Rachel and Michael Graves. Summer Camp features local artist pottery and home products. Want some goat milk and beer soap for your man and a really awesome macrame wall hanging for yourself? You’ll find it here at really great prices!

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For a splurge on awesome, women’s weekend clothing, I highly recommend Julia Rose & Company. Now, this isn’t a store for bargain shopper, this is a store for a woman who loves to splurge. Want those Current/Elliott boyfriend cut overalls you didn’t know they made and you didn’t know you wanted until now? Well they’re here. Your next stop should be In The Field, an amazing lifestyle journey created by Bianca and her husband Channon Roe.

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Bianca’s energy is as spectacular as her store where in which you’ll find one-of-a-kind global finds,  Materia Lumina ceramics, Matteo Linens, Creative Women towels and much more. What sets In The Field apart is its eclectic, yet dynamic curation of men’s and children’s (Bianca’s amazing sun is often found in the store with his amazing little personality) clothing and accessories that site thoughtfully amongst it’s women’s and home goods.

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Lastly, you can’t miss Dekor & Co, a fantastic home interiors store and tea bar. Want unique vintage pictures or cool cast iron equestrian home goods? You’ll find it here. Be careful, you may just buy the swing hanging from the rafters.

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Ojai Conserves

Just for your knowledge, when you look your receipts and you may see a 1% for Ojai charge. This program is the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s way to involve local business in preserving the valley. It adds a voluntary donation to their customers’ bills equal to 1% of what it cost or products sold. The customer donations are collected by the businesses and are used for the protection of open spaces for the public. The OVLC manages 2,000 acres of public space that cost $750,000 to purchase and costs $100,000 per year to maintain. All donations are tax deductible. Ask the businesses you visit if they participate and help preserve what you came to see.   

What places in Ojai have you fallen in love with?

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