Less than an hour from Santa Barbara and less than two hours from Los Angeles — surrounded by olive orchards and orange groves — lies the sleepy town of Ojai. Whether you choose to go a wine tasting, enjoy good food, browse the boutiques, or just unwind and relax, here are some places to enjoy during your stay.
Located at the end of a sleepy residential block amidst oak trees, roaming cats, and flowering plants, the Emerald Iguana Inn in Ojai is a tranquil and unique hideaway. Only a short walk to downtown, the boutique hotel is the perfect place to stay for a peaceful weekend getaway.
Each of its 13 luxurious rooms is unique. The newly remodeled romantic tree house room features a front balcony with a tile koi pond design, handmade furniture, tall bright windows, an antique claw foot tub, and a custom tiled fireplace. Designed and furnished by Ojai residents Julia and Marc Whitman, the Inn utilizes craftsman architecture throughout all of their suites and cottages. The grounds include a spa and pool, lush gardens, and a famous broken tile fountain.
A few blocks from the Emerald Iguana Inn is NoSo Vita, a new social café offering a variety of freshly brewed and cold-crafted coffees, teas, and espresso drinks. Breakfast dishes include pastries, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, scrambled egg sandwiches, and bagels and cream cheese. For lunch, there is a variety of sandwiches, soups, and salads. This coffee house exudes an Ojai vibe as it’s filled with locals, bright orange chairs on the large outdoor patio, and a friendly atmosphere.
A short drive through town and up the winding mountain roads is the Ojai Olive Oil Company, which offers free tours of their orchards, processing facility, and tasting room, as well as an opportunity to purchase regular and infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and olive oil soap, lip balm, and creams.
Back in town, visitors can relax at The Oaks, an all-inclusive destination spa. Guests can enjoy body treatments including a hot Himalayan stone massage and a variety of facials, as well as fitness, yoga, and muscle conditioning classes.
Before heading to dinner, consider a visit to the newly renovated Ojai Vineyard (No. 77 on our list of the 101 best wineries in America for 2016) to taste the best wines of the region. More than 300 wines are available to enjoy on site or purchase. A $15 flight includes five wines which are varied and can include a chardonnay, roussanne, pinot noir, sangiovese, and syrah. With the purchase of two bottles, the flight is free of charge. On weekends, Ojai Vineyard offers live music and library selections consisting of tastings of rare and well-aged bottles of wine.
One of the best restaurants in town is a few blocks away at Nocciola. Located in the old L’Auberge spot, the eatery offers contemporary Italian dishes using local seasonal ingredients. This residence-turned-restaurant gives diners the options of enjoying fresh salads like arugula with cheese; watercress, avocado, and hearts of palm; radicchio, frisee, grapes, and gorgonzola; and roasted beets with anchovies. Appetizers include grilled ricotta, mushrooms, and pancetta; prosciutto and burrata; seared yellowtail with mozzarella; scallops with truffle; and foie gras with asparagus.
There are also homemade pasta dishes, such as beef and kale ravioli, pappardelle with roasted boar, risotto with quail sausage, roasted beet and brown butter ravioli, mushroom tagliolini, and squid ink fettuccine with crab. Main dishes include fresh wild fish of the day, lamb shank with port wine, pork chops with porcini mushrooms, and a New York steak with mustard aioli. Nocciola also offers a five course tasting menu for $60 per person.