Recently, I got to live every girl’s dream, and I’m NOT exaggerating. I attended Ellen DeGeneres’ 12 Days of Christmas. That’s right- I sat in the studio audience at the Ellen show and won gift cards, a camera, and an inflatable hot tub. On top of that, Ellen surprised us with a two-night stay at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, one of my favorite vacation destinations. She knew the way to my heart. She also used to own a home there.
What is Ojai and why should you go? I fled there after working on video shoots for a week in LA, so let me map it out for you.
VIBE: Ojai is a peaceful and health-conscious oasis town tucked away from the hustle of LA, with warm weather and beautiful blue skies year-round. Known as Southern California’s own Shangri-La, this town attracts those looking to be healed, find balance, or just lay by a pool. I don’t know about you, but I am in constant need of all three. The main street is lined with boutiques, farm-to-table restaurants and wellness centers, and sits in the middle of a fragrant valley filled with citrus and avocado groves. No traffic, no smog, and no corporate chains (they are banned by law). My mood immediately changes every time I visit and it’s no wonder why.
STAY: Thanks to Ellen, I stayed in the top-rated Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Rooms are definitely on the pricey side but totally worth it for those seeking a rejuvenating weekend. I love the Spanish architecture, pristinely manicured grounds, and of course the spa with two pools. With aromatherapy workshops, golf, horseback-riding, and outdoor fireplaces, it was difficult to even leave the hotel!
For the girl on a budget, stay next door at the eclectic Ojai Rancho Inn (owned by Social Shelter Club), an old motel converted into a western hipster paradise. Whether staying there or not, be sure to have a drink at the Chief’s Peak bar and take a photo in the teepee by the pool. (RANCHO PHOTOS)
EAT: You can really eat anywhere and be satisfied. Most restaurants serve organic food because that is the way of life in Ojai. Farmer and the Cook is great for your locally-grown grocery needs or fresh pressed juices. Stop for lunch at Hip Vegan for a raw salad, beer and a chocolate date shake for dessert! For a late night bite and a good time, stop at the Deer Lodge and catch some live music.
DO: Aside from spending a day or five at the spa, I would visit the largest outdoor bookstore in the country, Bart’s Books. You will need something to read while laying by the pool.
I also really enjoyed hiking the Shelf Road Trail right before sunset to catch the infamous “pink moment,” when the sun casts pink shadows over the Topatopa Mountains. Burn calories and see pretty sunsets.
Lastly, just RELAX. If you don’t do that, you did this trip all wrong.
Peace, Love and Good Vibes