Hi, I’m Lauren

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Day Trip to Ojai

Day Trip to Ojai

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This Labor Day weekend Nick and I took a little day trip to Ojai. It has been on my list for a while, but with quarantine and everything, we hadn’t made it happen yet. We have driven by it several times on the way to other places like Santa Barbara, but it was never a good time stop. Well, spoiler alert, because I think it may be my new favorite spot It’s a little over an hour drive from west LA (straight shot, no traffic) and feels like you’re stepping into a different place. Santa Barbara is great, but you can still shop at Nordstrom (though they just closed it permanently (COVID-19). Having just been to Palm Springs, I kept comparing it in my head. It’s not really a fair comparison, but I think it kept popping into my head because record breaking heat was occurring when we went. (09/06/20). It was around 110+ in both places, during both of our recent visits. Hah! When you walk the little down-town area in Palm Springs, you can shop at Free People and dine at IHOP. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things; however, when I choose a getaway, I truly want to get away, you know?

We visited Ojai on a Sunday. We toyed with going Monday, but since it was Labor Day, we figured that things would be closed due to the holiday. That was smart on our part; however, we visited it on the hottest day this year and several businesses were closed due to the heat or closed early. Regardless, we still had a fun time and I 100% want to go back.

We decided to begin our trip by stopping for breakfast burritos at Lily’s Cafe. It was about a 30 minute detour, but we also were able to drive up the coast and didn’t mind taking the scenic route. Our first stop was Beacon Coffee as it was closing the earliest out of the places we wanted to go. Nick grabbed a cold brew and a bag of freshly roasted coffee and I had some of their sparkling hibiscus tea on tap! Next we checked out Bart’s Books, which is a stunning outdoor bookstore with both old and new books of all categories. I had seen photos, but it was even more breathtaking in person. Plus I love the smell of old books ;) It’s been around for over 50 years! Next we found a charging station (we have a hybrid car) and began our short walk to the downtown area. We took a small part of the Ojai Valley Trail to downtown - would love to come back and do more of it + check out other trails / hikes in the area. Once downtwon, Fig Curated Living and Canyon Supply were two of the cute shops we went in. We originally planned to have a little snack at Ojai Rotie, but they closed for lunch at 2:30 and we arrived at 2:40. Instead we had the tomato salad from The Nest and it was delicious! Lastly we stopped for a glass at the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room. They aren’t doing tastings right now, but we just bought a bottle (only $28), had a glass, and corked it to take home. We had the 2018 Portico Hills Sauvignon Blanc - crisp, but had a rich honey taste too without being too sweet! The only thing we didn’t get to do that I wanted to is grab a pastry from Kate’s Bread. She decided not to bake due to the high temperatures and I don’t blame her. I’m not sure how she normally does it, but as of now she has pick-ups on Wednesday and Sunday. She literally bakes them out of her home and has order forms online. I’m a little bummed I wasn’t able to have one of her ham and cheese croissants, but that just fuels the fact that I’ll need to go back.

For a bulleted list of everything I mentioned here, keep scrolling.


  • Azu Ojai

  • Beacon Coffee

  • Ojai Rotie

  • The Nest

  • Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room

  • Kate’s Bread (order ahead - usually order Monday for Wednesday and Friday for Sunday)

  • La Bodega

  • MarchΓ© Gourmet Delicatessen

  • Topa Topa Brewing Co.

  • Tipple and Ramble

Tomato Salad from The Nest // Sauv Blanc from the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room

Loft Black Romper (old, similar here and here) | Dolce Vita Suede Booties | Senreve Aria Belt bag worn as a shoulder bag (get $50 off with discount code ELLEMULENOS)



  • Walk downtown (favorite shops were Canyon Supply and Fig)

  • Visit Bart’s Books

  • Walk the Ojai Valley Trail

  • Los Padres National Forest

  • Ojai Meadows Preserve

  • Ojai Valley Museum

  • Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company (horseback riding!)

  • Taft Gardens and Nature Preserve

  • Valley View Preserve

  • Ventura River Preserve

  • Visit Ojai Lavender Farms (during season, usually all June)

At Bart’s Books



  • Ojai Rancho Inn

  • Ojai Retreat and Inn

  • Ojai Valley Inn

  • Ojai Vista Farm (closed rn because of COVID-19)

  • Lavender Inn

  • Thacher House

The Ojai Valley was a magical little place to visit even at its hottest and I can’t wait to rent a house (with a pool!) and stay longer!! I highly recommend a trip to the town. If you are in from out-of-state and want to make more of a trip of it, stay for a night or maybe just a little day stop on your way to Santa Barbara. Have a favorite spot in Ojai that I should check out next time? Please let me know!! I’ll for sure be back next lavender season!!

Side note - if you’re looking for a place to go during this pandemic season, I think Ojai is a great option. They had protocols in place, but also there’s an abundance of outdoor seating and a lot of places are open air. Obviously a great place to go even after we have figured more out about Coronavirus, but just wanted to call that out as I know people are looking for a place to safely get out of the city.

P.S. If you want to see more of the stunning Bart’s Books, I’ll share a post with images from that soon!

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