If you’re looking for a romantic and relaxing weekend getaway, look no further than the quirky town of Ojai and the magnificent Ojai Valley Inn. The Inn is consistently rated as one of the top resorts in California by the likes of Conde’ Nast Traveler. It’s our favorite place to go when we want to get out of Los Angeles and only have a couple of days to spare.
Here are my recommended things to do in Ojai to have a romantic weekend getaway there.
1. The Ojai Valley Inn
The Ojai Valley Inn is one of the top resorts in California. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway (and you can afford it) this is the place to be. This was the view from our room the first time we went:
If you just want to chillax, the Ojai Valley Inn is a wonderful place to unwind in complete luxury. If you want a massage at their spa, book it far in advance.
If you’re more active, the resort has a lot to offer. We love to swim there because they have separate pools for families with kids (The Pixie Pool), adults who just want to stand around with drinks (The Indigo Pool), and a two-lane pool for people like us who want to do laps (The Energy Pool).
If swimming isn’t your thing, they have tennis courts, free bike rentals, free yoga classes, and of course, golf! There are also cooking classes by world-renowned chefs, arts and crafts classes at the Artist Cottage, a bee-keeping tour, and a jeep tour of the Ojai Valley which includes olive oil and wine tastings! Check with the Ojai Valley Inn concierge about these activities.
The Ojai Valley Inn is pricey with rooms typically going for $700 and up (add $40 parking, $50 resort fee, and at least $100 for tax to the advertised prices), but it’s worth it if you’re looking for the ultimate romantic getaway.
2. Rory’s Place Ojai
Rory’s Place is our new favorite dinner spot in Ojai, featuring new American cuisine leaning toward seafood. The quirky bohemian interior is great, but the food is the real star here. Every dish we tried, from the little gem salad to the oysters and crudo, to our main dishes and sides were stellar. I was very skeptical about the carrot dish with saffron yogurt sauce that my wife ordered but even that was outstanding.
Rory’s is located next to Libbey park in the heart of downtown Ojai.
3. Downtown Ojai
When you arrive in Ojai, I recommend checking out the charming downtown area on E. Ojai Ave. between Signal St and Montgomery St. You’ll find lots of unique shops, restaurants, art galleries, winery tasting rooms, and boutiques. Definitely worth a stop!
While you’re there, be sure to venture into the charming courtyard on the north side of E. Ojai Avenue. There are lots of restaurants with outdoor seating.
For cheap but good tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, I like the Ojai Tortilla House on N. Signal Street. There’s no seating, just a counter where you order. But you can take your food to the courtyard and have it there. There is often a line, so you know it’s good! Cash only.
In the evening, most of the stores close but it’s still fun to window shop. There are some dessert spots and restaurants that stay open late.
4. Bart’s Books
If you love books, or if you just love cool bookstores like The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. or Powell’s in Portland, then a stop at Bart’s Books in Ojai is a “must”!
Bart’s Books was the home of Richard Bartinsdale, and eventually morphed into a book store. Calling itself “the world’s greatest outdoor bookstore”, much of the inventory is indeed outside.
Inside, almost all of the space has been dedicated to books, even the kitchen!
My wife found a rare cookbook here for only $10! But, it’s fun to wander through this quirky space, even if you’re not looking for a book.
5. Olivella Restaurant at the Ojai Valley Inn
If you’re not staying at the Ojai Valley Inn, dining at Olivella is a good excuse to get on the property, and the food there is excellent. It features “California coastal cuisine with Italian influences”. Virtually every dish we’ve had during our visits there was outstanding. The ingredients are unique and fresh. It’s pretty much a “must” if you’re staying at the Inn, and even if you’re not.
The ambiance and service are great. If you have a table on the outdoor patio, you’ll have a sweeping view of the Ojai valley.
Just remember to book a reservation at Olivella early (or at the same time you make your hotel reservations) as it does fill up quickly.
TIP: Olivella has transitioned from an “a la carte” menu to a prix fixe system where you can only order either a three-course (starter, main, dessert) or four-course dinner (starter, pasta, main, dessert). This is definitely a downer because we loved their side dishes and the flexibility to order whatever we wanted, and it results in a significant price increase. INSIDER TIP: if you don’t need dessert, you can substitute a pasta for your dessert in the three-course menu (i.e., starter, pasta, main) and get charged only $15 more. This is a good deal because each of their desserts is big enough for two people to share (in our opinion).
6. Caravan Outpost
If the golf courses, tennis courts, and swimming pools of the Ojai Valley Inn are too bourgeois for you, check out a bohemian alternative at Caravan Outpost, where you stay in Airstream trailers surrounding a central communal area. It’s one step above glamping, but in a good, fun way. The grounds have a “Gilligan’s Island” feel even though you’re in downtown Ojai.
The Airstreams are decked out with queen beds, couch, fridge, stove, bathroom, air conditioning, and even a tiny shower!
Hang out at your own deck, or meet other guests in the communal area. If you’re up for a unique non-hotel-like, but still romantic, experience, check out Caravan Outpost!
Ojai has some great bike paths, including one that goes all the way from Ojai to Ventura (about 11 miles one-way). This is an awesome trail because most of it is protected from traffic.
For a more modest ride, the Downtown Trail loop goes through Libbey Park and downtown Ojai. It’s a great way to see the town.
If you’re staying at the Ojai Valley Inn, they have complimentary bike rentals with easy access to the trails. The bikes are great for cruising around town, but I wouldn’t attempt biking all the way to Ventura with one of these bikes. Caravan Outpost is also close to the bike trails.
8. Nocciola (Italian Restaurant)
I have a fondness for restaurants located in former residences, and Nocciola is such an establishment. Located just a block north of Ojai Avenue less than a mile from the Ojai Valley Inn, Nocciola serves excellent Italian food in a romantic setting with indoor and patio seating.
All of the dishes we tried at Nocciola were good, but the homemade pasta is the star here. We had the mare seafood pasta and the spaghetti. Both had very mild seasonings, but that was probably on purpose because the pasta itself was outstanding.
You pretty much can’t go wrong with the food and ambiance at Nocciola.
9. The Dutchess (Burmese Restaurant)
Housed in a building built in 1927 which was originally Ojai’s bakery, The Dutchess is again a bakery during the day and serves Burmese cuisine at night.
L.A. West-Siders might recognize some of the restaurants on the staff resumes. Saw Naing was formerly the chef at Tallula’s but wanted to cook his native Burmese style. Kate Pepper formerly created baked goods at Milo + Olive.
We had dinner there, as well as breakfast the next morning, and both meals were delightful. I also liked the sort of British Colonial feel of the place. Not sure if that was on purpose, but it had a romantic feel. They have both indoor seating and a charming outdoor patio.
If you’re staying at the Ojai Valley Inn, I highly recommend borrowing one of their bikes and riding over to The Dutchess, less than a mile away, for breakfast!
10. The Ranch House (Restaurant)
A true hidden gem, the Ranch House is a mostly outdoor restaurant nestled in a garden with towering bamboo trees, a Koi pond, and charming walkways. It’s one of the most romantic restaurants I’ve been to, reminding me of the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga.
Although set in a Japanese-style garden, The Ranch House serves American fare. When we went, we had the choice of either a three-course dinner or a five-course dinner, the courses being the appetizer, soup, salad, entree, and dessert.
We loved the appetizers (filet mignon & porchini and crab cakes), the soup (shrimp bisque), the salads (baby gem salad and Nagoya kale salad), and dessert (flourless chocolate cake).
11. El Roblar Drive in Meiners Oaks
On West El Roblar Drive in the neighborhood of Meiners Oaks just west of Ojai, there is a section of unique stores and restaurants worth checking out. Papa Lennon’s is where locals get their pizza and is a favorite of ours.
If you prefer Mexican, then just a few doors down there’s Don Lalo’s, also popular with locals. Between them is a brand new restaurant opening in June called Meiners Heritage Table. It looks pretty hip. All of these have charming outdoor dining patios. While you’re on that block, check out the vintage clothing at Pearl Paris Vintage.
A few blocks east is Farmer and the Cook, a small bohemian market/restaurant where you’ll find some of the best smoothies in Ojai. Also great for fresh-squeezed juices, coffee, burritos, sandwiches, and baked goods.
One block further east is BookEnds Bookstore & Curiosities, a wonderfully quirky bookstore housed in a former church and a 1961 Airstream trailer. Look for the Statue of Liberty in the garden as you drive by. Definitely a unique bookstore you won’t find anywhere else! (Note, it closed during the pandemic; hopefully, it will re-open soon!)
12. Ojai Certified Farmers Market (Sundays)
A farmers market is almost always a great date idea, so if you’re in Ojai on a Sunday, check out the Ojai Certified Farmers Market located in downtown Ojai, one block north of Ojai Avenue in downtown (east of N Signal Street).
It runs from 9 AM to 1 PM on Sundays. Afterward, you can check out the restaurants, stores, and galleries in downtown Ojai.
Pinyon is a high-end restaurant masquerading as a casual cafe. Other than the frog theme, the ambiance is pretty unremarkable and casual. But the food is actually outstanding and will satisfy any foodie.
Their tagline is “Pizza – Bread – Wine”. We enjoyed their crudo, Ceasar salad, and especially the stuffed pepper. The crust on their wood-fired pizza was great. We got a special all-veggie pizza that probably could have used some salty meat on it. Other than that minor tweak, we loved everything. For dessert, get the Tira Misu – it’s outstanding!
14. Meditation Mount
If you want to relax in nature with some splendid hilltop views, check out Meditation Mount. The place has a somewhat New-Agey feel but it’s open to all religions (or none at all). You can do a two-hour self-guided stroll for $10 or they also have yoga classes.
Advance registration is required.
15. The Scenic Overlook of Ojai
If you time it just right, you can get some amazing sunset views at The Scenic Overlook of Ojai. It’s ridiculously quick and easy to get to from downtown Ojai. Just head East on E. Ojai Avenue and keep going as it turns into a winding road. Just a few miles up there will be a turnout on the right where about a dozen cars can park. With a bit of luck and good timing, you can catch some great sunsets and see the “pink moment” where the sun hits to Topatopa bluffs creating a pink/orange color!
Note that we were there during golden hour, so the views were great. If you go in the middle of the day, it won’t be nearly as spectacular. This is a great after-dinner activity!
16. Wine Tasting
You may not have known that Ojai has several wineries, with tasting rooms right in downtown Ojai!
Majestic Oak Vineyard has a super charming tasting courtyard right on Ojai Avenue, below street level. Look for the red umbrellas.
The Ojai Vineyard has their tasting room just south of Ojai Avenue on S. Montgomery Street.
Feros Ferio Winery’s tasting room, located on the north side of Ojai Avenue, has a quirky vibe.
Yet another tasting room on Ojai Avenue is The Naturalist Organic Winery’s Tasting Room.
These are all within walking distance of one another. At least some will apply the tasting fee towards purchase of bottles of wine.
Tipple and Ramble is a cute wine bar with a wonderful outdoor seating area a few blocks north of Ojai Avenue. Super charming in a quirky Ojai way. They are not a tasting room though, so come here for full glasses of wine.
We usually go to Ojai in the summer when it’s pretty warm. But, if you’re there during cooler weather, consider going on a hike! Here are 7 great hiking trails in Ojai according to Go Travel California.
Romantic Things to Do After Dinner
Ojai isn’t exactly known for its nightlife, but here is my list of romantic things to do in Ojai after dinner at one of its wonderful restaurants.
- Chill at a fire pit a the Ojai Valley Inn
It’s super romantic at night, especially with the lanterns hanging from the huge oak trees. If you’re not a guest, get dinner reservations at their restaurant, Olivella, and stay afterward!
- Get ice cream or froyo
Ojai Ice Cream is right in downtown Ojai! Locals, especially the younger crowd flock to Bliss Frozen Yogurt, located next to The Dutchess restaurant.
- Window shop downtown
After grabbing your ice cream or froyo, walk down Ojai Avenue and do some window shopping.
- Have a drink at the Topa Topa taproom
Their tasting room is right on Ojai Avenue.
- Watch the sunset at The Scenic Overlook or Meditation Mount
- Go star gazing
I haven’t found the perfect spot yet, but I’ll add it to this article when I find it! I’m sure there are many in oJai!
Bonus: Old Town Ventura
If you’re driving from Los Angeles, your trip to Ojai will probably take you through the town of Ventura.
We decided to stop in the Old Town area on our way home after our first trip. Old Town is on Main Street starting from the Mission San Buenaventura running several blocks east of there.
The street was closed off to traffic and turned into a pedestrian-only area, allowing the restaurants to have lots of wonderful outdoor seating. There were a variety of unique and charming thrift stores, gift shops, clothing stores, and other quirky one-of-a-kind shops there. It was a great way to end our trip before heading home.
As you can see, there are lots of charming things to do in the Ojai Valley. If you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway that’s close to home but feels far away, consider Ojai and especially the Ojai Valley Inn! – Brian
Our other favorite local weekend getaway destination is Palm Springs. Read how to have a romantic vacation there: