Hi blog friends!
Oooh la la, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. While I may not be a big fan of all the cheesy stuff in the Valentine’s Day aisle, I obviously have a soft spot for a holiday celebrating love. I am a romantic after all. Plus, I have a pretty great Valentine this year. Alas! My boyfriend Daniel has to work late on Valentine’s Day and won’t be back until 11 p.m. So while we are going to do something special (a surprise! I can’t wait!) tomorrow morning, I think our Valentine’s Day was really celebrated last weekend when we went to Ojai for 2 days. There weren’t any heart-shaped chocolates or pink confetti involved, but we got to spend 2 full days together just exploring, eating, drinking, reading, talking, and cuddling. And since we value quality time so much, I don’t think there could have been a better celebration of love than that.
Ojai is an awesome weekend getaway from Los Angeles. I first went last year with my sister, and knew I wanted to come back. It only took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Ojai (without traffic of course). It’s quaint, charming, and even though it’s not an undiscovered destination by any means, it has such a relaxed, natural vibe that makes you feel like you’re much farther from L.A. than you really are. One of our main reasons for choosing Ojai, besides the beautiful backdrop of mountains and relaxed atmosphere was…the famous outdoor bookstore, Bart’s Books. Where we spent a total of 3 hours. Who else would spend that long in a bookstore with me? Daniel is a keeper.
One of my goals for this year is to take more photos in my own life and work on personal photography projects. So as we were stepping out the door to leave for Ojai, I ran back inside and grabbed my camera. And I’m so glad I did. These photos have reminded me how much I love documenting life as it unfolds, and I hope to keep bringing my camera along for all my adventures this year. So I hope you enjoy the photos and Ojai travel recommendations at the bottom!
p.s. sometimes blogging is lonely and you feel like you’re talking to yourself…so I would LOVE it if you said hello in the comments, gave me suggestions for my next time in Ojai or other fun weekend getaways in California, or just left a smiley face to let me know I’m not alone here in the inter webs.
Daniel is slowly learning that wherever we go, I’m probably going to want a picture of him…
And he’s rolling with that…
And I think he’s starting to realize my trick of taking so many that he finally bursts out laughing.
Of course, when the camera is turned on me, I always look completely natural and photogenic. Ahem.
Ojai Travel Recommendations
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa: We didn’t stay at this resort, but it is definitely the swankiest place to stay in Ojai, and if you feel like splurging, you should stay here! Since I had seen a few weddings photographed here via wedding blogs, I wanted to take a peek and Daniel and I walked around the beautiful grounds. It’s definitely a stunning wedding venue. They also have a spa if you feel like pampering yourself.
Hummingbird Inn: I found The Hummingbird Inn through a Groupon (yeah, I’m kind of obsessed with deals) and it perfectly fit our hotel needs–not too fancy, but not just a boring Best Western. I may not want to spend $300/night for a room, but I still want it to feel a little special, which this definitely did. Our king room also had a private garden patio, which was so nice for coffee in the morning.
Hip Vegan: I love the relaxed atmosphere and appropriately hip design at Hip Vegan on Main Street. Daniel got the Mexican bowl with black beans, brown rice, salsa, and guacamole. There wasn’t a single bite left, so I’m guessing it was pretty good. I got a chai latte (so good!) and the Indo Wrap with tempeh, veggies, mint, and coconut peanut dip. This was so delicious that I’m inspired to finally search for some rice paper to make my own veggie wraps for lunch. It’s on my to do list.
The Farmer and the Cook: Daniel and I were actually looking at the menu outside Azu, a kind of pricey tapas place on Main Street, when a kind woman stopped and told us that if we were looking for a good lunch place, we had to go to this farm to table organic cafe with great Mexican food where all the locals go for lunch. We were SOLD. This organic eatery was exactly the kind of place we were looking for, and I can’t recommend it (or the fig smoothie) highly enough.
Coffee Connection: We had already had our caffeine fix when we passed by Coffee Connection, but this looked like the best place in town to get your espresso needs met.
Von’s: Yes, I said it, go to Von’s! Sometimes our favorite dinner is a bottle of wine + fruit + cheese + more cheese + chocolate. All of which can be purchased from Chez Von’s.
Bart’s Books: The loveliest outdoor bookstore with a seriously amazing selection of used books. You can browse for a good read amidst the maze of books and then sit under a tree to read. I think the trip to Ojai is worth it for Bart’s Books alone.
Twice-Sold Tales: We left Bart’s books with quite the haul, so we didn’t expect to buy any more books on our trip…until we found Twice-Sold Tales. It’s a tiny little used bookstore that raises money for library programs and the books are super cheap. So naturally I added three more to my literary shopping spree.
Farmers Market: Note that the farmer’s market is only on Sundays!
Main Street shopping: Poke your head into the little stores in the arcade, but don’t spend too long there since there are so many beautiful outdoor places like…
Lake Casitas: We got bored quickly of looking at shops downtown, so we escaped to the outdoors! We went on a beautiful walk at Lake Casitas and found a lovely spot to read for a couple hours with a view of the mountains and lake.
Hiking Trails: There are SO many hiking trails in Ojai, which is another great way to explore the natural beauty of the area.
Meditation Mount: This meditation center up in the mountains is the most tranquil and serene place to watch the sun set over the Ojai Valley. A short garden trail makes for a nice walk out to the vista point. This was definitely one of the most memorable places we visited in Ojai.
Wine Tasting: There are many options for wine tasting in Ojai, but we chose to stop by the Old Creek Ranch Winery, where you can taste a flight of six wines for $10. The winery has a rustic, farm setting that we thought would be more fun than wine tasting in a wine room downtown. You can also bring a picnic, buy a bottle of their wine, and sit outside on the patio or picnic tables overlooking the vineyard.
Ventura Pier: Depending on the route you take home, I suggest stopping at the Ventura Pier or Ventura State Beach. Because a trip that manages to include the mountains *and* the beach is my kind of trip.