Pleasant Roadside Inn with Rose Garden and Mountain Views
The 9-mile Ojai Valley Trail runs alongside the Ventura River on a route that used to be part of the Ojai Valley railroad. Today, you can bike and jog on a paved section or ride horseback on a woodchip path to see what train passengers used to see: a gorgeous rural landscape surrounded by the forest and mountain ranges. The scene was picture-perfect to legendary director Frank Capra, who used it to represent Shangri-La in his film Lost Horizon.
Ojai Rancho Inn connects directly to the trail via a rose garden, which captures a bit of the serenity found throughout the valley. And much like the town of Ojai, the inn is fairly low-key, made up of cottages and simply decorated rooms with wood-paneled walls.
Every morning, the inn serves a continental breakfast of fresh fruit and house-made waffles. Feel free to unwind in your in-room hot tub or at the onsite sauna after a day of checking out the trails, fishing in the streams of Los Padres National Forest, or visiting Ojai’s local restaurants and shops with the optional scavenger-hunt package.
Ojai, California: Artsy Small Town in Peaceful Mountain Valley
On the night before the Fourth of July parade in Ojai, locals stake out the best spots on the road to see the parade floats, park a chair there, and leave it overnight. That’s something that’d be downright impossible to pull off in the urban jungle of Los Angeles, which is located about 1.5 hours southeast. Ojai's Horse Crossing signs, many of which are located near the charming small town’s well-kept bridle paths, would also be missing in the big city.
There's a strong artistic presence here, due in no small part to former resident Beatrice Wood, a renowned sculptor. She worked until her death at age 104. You’re likely to stumble upon the works of local artists hanging on the walls in the area's restaurants and shops. Many artists also open up their studios and galleries to visitors and their art-loving spirit animals.
The area used to be home to the peaceful Chumash tribe, which thought the land's east-west configuration gave it mystical powers. There’s still a spiritual tradition in the area today; numerous metaphysical sects that make a home in Ojai, and there are a number of sites and shops dedicated to holistic healing and meditation.