Discovering Ojai

by becauseijustdo


It’s evolving into a tradition that every August we take a little family weekend adventure to a local spot that we’ve never visited before.  Last year we ferried ourselves out to Catalina Island and this year we drove up the coast and into the Ojai Valley for a weekend at the Ojai Rancho Inn.

It was hot and dry up there which meant most of our afternoons were spent around the pool and playing shuffleboard but we did manage to get out and about for some good food and exploration around town.   Mack spent most of the weekend shirtless with the above blow-up turtle around his waist.

The Hotel

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Main Entrance and morning coffee at the Ojai Rancho Inn.

We could NOT have stayed in a more family friendly, laid back place than the Ojai Rancho Inn.  This place was perfect for us.  I’m envisioning lots of future family trips to this same spot and inviting everyone I know with kids and pets to join us for laid back pool time (there was even a dog swimming with us the first day), shuffleboard, biking (free bikes available to guests), grilling by the pool and s’mores at the fire pits.  You can see more great pictures and learn more about the Inn and its owners, Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan from this feature on Apartment Therapy.

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Poolside fun and Shuffleboard.


This picture perfect trailer sits in the backyard at the Rancho.

Food and Drink

I would definitely make the effort to swing by Agave Maria’s to try out a “Pixie” rita, an amazing margarita made with Ojai’s own Pixie tangerines.  We also had dinner here and the food was solid Mexican fare but that “Pixie” rita and their great outdoor patio made a lasting impression.


The “Pixie” rita

The best part of vacation is slow mornings with nobody rushing to be anywhere.  Nothing feels more decadent than having the time to enjoy a long, lazy breakfast with fresh-baked breads, multiple cups of coffee and even a newspaper.   Saturday morning we tried out Knead Bakery.  My husband devoured his oven-warm blueberry muffin, disappeared and returned with a delicious slice of quiche.  Mack snacked on a flakey croissant and I enjoyed an egg sandwich.  I couldn’t resist leaving without a bag of fresh lemon zest shortbread cookies with lavender sugar for later in the day.  (Please note that Knead is cash only)

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Breakfast at Knead Bakery.


I bought these cookies at 9:30am. They were gone before noon.

Sunday morning found us just outside of downtown Ojai at The Farmer and the Cook.  They served up some amazing Huevos Rancheros and really yummy Poppy Seed Muffins.  I also loved poking around their market and the rustic, straight from the farm feel of this place.

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Huevos Rancheros and Poppy Seed Muffins at the Farmer and the Cook.


Ojai is a quirky little town with lots of art galleries and clothing boutiques but my two favorite shopping finds were Barts Books and ModernFolk.  We were all in heaven in Barts,  the world’s greatest outdoor bookstore.  Mack plopped himself in the kids section with one of my favorite childhood books (The Rainbow Goblins), Gino headed off for some crime fiction and I found myself leafing through used cookbooks and perusing the travel section.  We walked away with 4 great books for $20.  Oh, how I loved Barts.


Labyrinths of books at Bart’s Books.

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Our treasures from the bookstore.

Next up was a stop at a gorgeous little shop called ModernFolk.  Created by Wanda Weller Sakai,  the shop is “a destination eco-boutique for inspired products, hand selected with you (and the environment) in mind.”  They “offer beautifully designed, artisanal goods that blend natural materials with modern designs and functionality.”  I could have bought one of everything in this place.  I’m very excited to use my new recycled notebook at Blogshop in a few weeks and am hoping this sweet little bird pouch will keep my purse better organized.


Discoveries at ModernFolk Living.

We can’t wait to visit Ojai again.  Next on our list is to check out more of the art galleries, an evening hike to see the infamous “Pink Moment” when the Topa Topa Mountains turn pink at sunset, biking along the Ojai Bike Path and delving into the Spiritual Vortex of the valley.  Until then Ojai…


Mack and “Turtie” say farewell to Ojai.