The Ojai Valley is nestled at the base of the Los Padres National Forest, 40 minutes from Santa Barbara, 15 miles from Ventura, and a 90-minute drive north of Los Angeles Airport. Surrounded and secluded by the Topa Topa Mountains, its breathtakingly beautiful views were captured by Frank Capra while filming “Lost Horizon”, his 1939 film classic about the mythical land of Shangri-La.
Today, the same sense of hidden enchantment exists in the real Shangri-La of Ojai (pronounced “oh-hi”), California. At sunset, the valley’s mountains are bathed in a pink and mauve glow that fills the sky—a magical, serene time known as Ojai’s “Pink Moment.”
Ojai is a Chumash Indian word thought by most experts to mean “moon” or full cycle of the moon. Groves of oranges, lemons, and avocados flourish throughout this valley that was once inhabited by the Chumash Indians, who believed it held unique mystical powers.
Some claim it is the valley’s powerful creative energy that accounts for the unusually large community of artists, writers, philosophers and movie stars who call Ojai home.
Both residents and visitors who escape to the valley with its perfect climate regard it as a journey back in time to tree-lined streets, summer band concerts, friendlier people and cleaner air.
It is also a peaceful haven for nature lovers. The Ojai Valley Trail links Ojai to Ventura, following the river for nine miles, passing through quiet neighborhoods, rolling hillsides and long scenic ridges. It is a favorite trail of walkers, joggers, cyclists and horseback riders of all ages.
In the fall and winter, forest streams lure trout fishermen. Nearby Lake Casitas, with its 60 miles of shoreline, offers excellent bass fishing, hundreds of campsites and RV facilities. Additional camping facilities are found in the Los Padres National Forest.
A leisurely stroll along Ojai’s main street with its Spanish-style shopping arcade reveals a laid-back small town feeling. Many of the buildings are more than a century old, housing chic boutiques, bistros and specialty shops.
A favorite shop is Bart’s Books, a Parisian-style open-air bookshop with more than 100,000 used books on every imaginable topic. It is a collector’s delight. If the shop is closed, a friendly sign suggests you just toss your coins inside the gate.
Ojai has earned its reputation as a place to rejuvenate and thrives as a spa town. At the end of its main street, across from a mission-style bell tower, you’ll find the Oaks Spa housed in a renovated 1920’s hotel.
Known for many years as the “affordable” spa, the Oaks offers a casual environment and serves tasty 1,200 calories per day spa meals.
Spa owner, Sheila Cluff, has been a leader in the fitness industry for over 40 years. In addition to a variety of exercise classes, there are brisk walks around town and hikes into the surrounding mountains, as well as an array of body treatments.
Rates begin at $260.00 per day, which includes room and board. Special “spa days” for visitors are $130.00, including three meals and fitness classes.
For More Information
• Year-round festivals and events calendar: www.ojaivisitors.com
• The Oaks at Ojai: www.oaksspa.com, 800-753-6257