Escape From LA: A Weekend Trip To Ojai, California
By Shontel Horne
One of the benefits of living in a city like Los Angeles is that it’s really easy to escape it. Las Vegas and San Francisco are just a drive or $49 flight away, and between places like Napa, San Diego, Big Bear and Mexico, there are countless destinations that you can visit when you need a break from La La Land.
When Ford invited me to a weekend getaway in Ojai, a desert town located 70 miles north of Los Angeles, it was the perfect excuse to escape the L.A. hustle and get back to basics and do not much at all, and I loved every second of it.
For the drive to Ojai, Ford lent me one of their brand new EcoSport’s for the 2-hour road trip from Los Angeles. A small SUV that’s cute and easy to manage and navigate, the car was fun to drive up Pacific Coast Highway and through Malibu, and helped to set the tone for the laidback weekend ahead.
Ojai is known for its big population of artists, and it has many cool, unconventional places to stay that reflect the eclectic community. I didn’t know what to expect when pulling up to the Caravan Outpost, an Airstream hotel complete with 11 trailers and a mini house, but I instantly felt at home on the property’s cozy, welcoming grounds. Airstream hotels aren’t new, but what I loved about Caravan Outpost was the attention to deal that was everywhere you turned. From the glassware to the trailers, which are outfitted with a record player and records, an entertainment system with a TV and sound system, toiletries, a kitchen and a bathroom, the team behind Caravan Outpost make sure that you have more than enough for your time at the property. There are even bikes and hammocks or patio furniture for you to use when the Airstream gets too cramped, and I can now say I’m into the tiny living lifestyle.
The town of Ojai is very what-you-see-is-what-you-get, though the region is unassumingly affluent. Ojai boasts some of the most elite boarding schools in the world and even the smallest home will cost you a fortune, but the town is incredibly welcoming, accessible and visitor-friendly.
Known for their abundance of pixie mandarin oranges, they’ll be oranges as far as the eye can see when driving the rocky roads and up the scenic mountains during pixie season, so if you love citrus fruits, visit between March and May for pixie season. During this time, pixies will be everywhere from trees on the side of the road to menus at restaurants like The Nest, where the fruit was used for a homemade marmalade to go with a southern-inspired fried chicken biscuit. You’ll find many types of food in Ojai ranging from Italian to an impressive sushi joint called Hakane, but no matter where you dine, the food will always be simple and of the highest quality.
When you go to a town like Ojai, the goal is to disconnect and relax. You won’t find a party scene, but there are several bars and restaurants like The Ojai Beverage Company in Ojai Village where locals are eager to chat about their quaint little town. Ojai Village is where you’ll find a collection of shops, art galleries and eateries, and it’s the beating heart of the town. Bart’s Books, a one-of-a-kind outdoor bookstore, is a must-visit for browsing and buying both new and used titles, and you’ll find everything from high-end art to thrift shops in Ojai Village.
While most of my time in Ojai was spent lounging at the Caravan Outpost, enjoying the campfire with wine in hand, the region has stunning mountain ranges which, though affected by forest fires, are still great for hiking to enjoy the natural surroundings. Trails up Shelf Road and Fox Canyon offer easy hikes and stunning views, so when you’re ready to explore Ojai’s natural beauty, the best way to do it is by foot.
A quiet town with a creative spirit, Ojai provides a great contrast to the hectic scene in a city as busy as Los Angeles, and it’s the kind of place where doing very little and simply scaling back will leave you feeling surprisingly good.
A Quick Guide To Ojai
Where To Stay: Caravan Outpost