Photo Essay: Weekend Getaway to Ojai, California

I'm going to be frank. I was a little skeptical when an inland California mountain town by the name of Ojai (Pronounced "Oh Hi," and not "OJ") invited me up from Los Angeles. Here I am having lived on the California coast for a total of three years, traveling to many of the West Coast's best small beach towns, yet am leaving that to go to the valley. But as I quickly found out, this is not your everyday small town in California.

I'm just going to go ahead and say it. There is no place I've visited in California that's surprised me and exceeded my expectations like Ojai did. If Ojai is good enough for Anthony Hopkins, then it's now good enough for me. It's one of those places that you start paying attention to only after you hear locals talk about it with such earnestness and passion.

Part of that, as Conde Nast Traveler recently wrote about, is chalked up to Ojai's energy vortex that is comparable in that way to Sedona, Arizona. What that looks like in and around Ojai includes a number of different retreats to tap into this, like Meditation Mount, perched above the city with sweeping 360-degree views and offering many yoga and meditation classes. In Ojai itself there are numerous accommodations that continue to accentuate this, most notably the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a AAA Five Diamond resort.

Ojai Valley, California from Meditation Mount
Ojai Valley, California from Meditation Mount

But whether you're a yogi or healing practitioner or not, Ojai is simply one of the most interesting places in California, exuding a calm like few other places do in California, and especially for this Los Angeles kid. When walking the streets of Ojai, my 12-minute-mile walking pace suddenly turns into a stroll. To play off Julie Andrew's Sound of the Music words, the hills are alive, except here they're alive with vineyards, olive farms (kind of like grape vineyards, but with olives and lots of olive oil), and a rare east-west mountain range, which produces even more sunshine then a lot of other California destinations, and home to what's referred to as the "pink moment," when the hills and sky turn pink for a few minutes at sunset. But I'll let the photos do the talking from here!