Ojai is one of those places that had been on my list for years, but we’d never quite made it there–until July. Nestled in a Ventura County valley, it’s not as well-known as nearby Santa Barbara. I love Santa Barbara, but I will never again skip Ojai.

The city itself is endlessly charming, even during the COVID-19 era. It’s full of adorable shops, restaurants, and wineries. Our first stop was Ojai Beverage Co. With an impressive wine list and lots of beers on tap, it was a great lunch destination. I really enjoyed the fish tacos.

After lunch, we checked into Ojai Valley Inn. The grounds are stunning. From the moment we pulled up to the gate, we were surrounded by the most beautiful trees and flowers. Our room was beyond lovely…a comfortable mini suite with a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the mountains. Lily and Brandon went straight for the family friendly Pixie pool. After checking out the adult pool options, I joined them. The pool service was impeccable throughout our stay.

There are so many things I loved about the resort, including the Artist Cottage with daily activities for kids. Lily really enjoyed painting. She got to take home several completed projects.

Honestly though, the food might be at the top of my list of favorite things. Olivella, the seasonal Italian restaurant on the property, is wonderful seasonal Italian with a standout wine list. I enjoyed breakfast at The Oak, the resort’s casual dining restaurant. Lily loved the pancakes. Brandon and I devoured the chilaquiles and bagel with lox.

On our last night, we were lucky enough to get one of the fire pits. We purchased a s’mores kit and made magic. It was Lily’s first time making s’mores over an open fire, and she loved it! I don’t think my oven baked s’mores will be acceptable anymore…

I have to say that the food in Ojai is just generally good. On our way out, we stopped at Topa Topa brewery for some cool drinks and lunch bites from their Asian fusion neighbor Sama Sama. Chicken wings and beer were exactly what we needed on a hot July day.

We took a stroll around town. I stopped to buy a dress, and we ended up at Carolina Gramm’s tasting room. Carolina is lovely. She’s from Italy, so we spent a lot of time talking about our favorite Italian towns. Then we got to try her incredible products. We ended up getting a few olive oils (the rosemary garlic alone is worth the trip), and a refreshing lemongrass balsamic.

I can’t believe it took so many years to check out Ojai. Better late than never. I can’t wait to explore it more on a future trip. Hopefully once all this is behind us.