Spring break is the absolute perfect time for a day trip to Ojai.  The temperature is perfect and the entire valley smells like orange blossoms. This is not an exaggeration!  A spring break trip to Ojai once actually resulted in us moving here a few years later, so watch out for that side effect.  Enjoy these tips for a great day trip to Ojai!

A Day Trip to Ojai

Stop #1 – Coffee + Shopping  For me, Stop #1 on any trip must begin with coffee. It’s just how it is.  So, stop by Java & Joe’s for one of their amazing lattes (classic or fancy flavors like honey lavender) and some delicious pastries.  If you are up for a little bit of shopping or want to bring back some souvenirs, Poppies Art and Gifts is a few steps away. They have tons of fabulous things from local makers and artists.  Depending on the day they might even be doing a workshop or two. Or if you are up for spoiling the kids, Serendipity Toys is right across the way. It is locally owned by an adorable couple who has been running it since 1979.  They have toys for every age and free fantastic gift wrapping skills if you want to pick something up for a future gift.  I promise you that you will feel a thousand percent happier buying a toy (or twelve) here than you ever have at a big box store!

Stop #2 – Olive Oil Tour  Now you have had your coffee and pastry, the next stop is Ojai Olive Oil Company.  This farm on the outskirts of town is the perfect activity for your late morning in Ojai. You must roll down your window on the drive out there and smell the orange blossoms, seriously!  You can start out with the farm tour; standing in the shade of the olive trees and learning about the growth and harvesting of the olives. It’s beautiful and fresh and fragrant.  Then, you go inside and find out how their oil is processed and pressed.  You can see the machinery and learn the art of the oil.  Last, but absolutely most important, you get to go into the tasting room.  Here they have all their varieties of flavor infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and baskets of bread to dip into samples.  Try not to buy every single one.  My personal favorites are the blackberry and peach balsamic.  They make a summer salad absolutely divine. These are also excellent to bring back home to have on hand for future hostess gifts.  Alternatively, you can tell yourself that’s why you are buying so many, and later just use them for yourself.  That works well too.

Stop #3 – Exercise  Since you have already had coffee and pastries, and likely a basket (or five) full of bread soaked in oils and vinegars; you will likely need some exercise.  If you are lucky, by Spring Break, COVID restrictions may have lifted and you can hit the Mob Shop for a bike tour.  They have bikes of all sizes, as well as the option to pull a kiddo behind you.  After bikes and helmets are selected, you will hit the road with a tour guide that will lead you through the town. The trip is guided by interests and potentially the age of the kids.  Again, enjoy the orange blossom scented air as you ride through the perfect spring breeze around downtown, through orchards and along creeks.  It’s a perfect way to see this small town and learn a bit about it’s past and present.

Stop #4 – Time to Eat Outdoor dining on the patio of Papa Lennon’s in Meiners Oaks is the utmost experience, in my opinion.  There are plenty of other lovely places to eat all throughout Ojai and the valley, but Papa Lennon’s is special to me. It is perfect for a family and the patio is like a secret garden with it’s ivy covered walls and twinkling lights.  Try their delicious pasta, pizza, and panini’s (I love the Caprese one). Enjoy their sweet and strong drinks (strong meaning espresso, which is my speed of strong). And don’t miss the amazing strawberry lemonade (spoiler alert, the strawberry comes from a scoop of strawberry gelato in the lemonade). Of course for dessert, more of that perfect gelato or try the cheesecake, apple crisp, or tiramisu.

Stop #5 – Enjoy a Park Finish up the day with a lazy late afternoon at Soule Park. This county park is $5 to enter on the weekends. It offers a gorgeous huge park with beautiful views, a super fun old school playground that the kids will adore (challenge them to make it to the top of the rocket ship), a dog park, majestic shady trees (try to hit this park again in fall to see the trees in their fall color glory) and plenty of space so that you can wind down from your trip peacefully.  It’s an ideal spot to catch the famous “pink moment” when the Topa Topa mountains take on a mysterious pink and lavender alpenglow as the sun sets.  It’s absolutely magical.

A Perfect Spring Day Trip

There are so many other, maybe more typical, things to do in Ojai.  You could exhaust yourself pushing kids on the merry-go-round at Libby Park.  You could taste wines at Topa Topa.  Or treat yourself at a spa,  take a spiritual journey, or learn about the healing powers of crystals.  There are endless options, but for me, these five stops are the perfect spring day trip, and I am so lucky to be here to share them with you.

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Gia is a native Californian who has lived all over the state from San Diego to Trinity County, plus Washington DC for a short time. She recently relocated to Ventura County with her family to build a compound property together with her sister’s family so that they could always share wardrobes and parenting responsibilities for their 5 combined children at home. Gia graduated from UCSB with a degree in Linguistics (which she thinks entitles her to make up words). It took her just three years, as she was eager to graduate early to go live with her long distance boyfriend and his toddler daughter at the time. That seemed to work out, as the boyfriend got promoted to husband years ago and her step-daughter promoted her to grandmother recently! Gia’s husband is from East Africa and runs their Bed and Breakfast in Tanzania from near and far. Gia is a Human Resources Director who has a major obsession with watermelon and eggnog lattes, depending on the season.

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