The sprawl of Los Angeles puts a quick small-town getaway in the “easier said than done” category. But enter Ojai, California, just 80 miles from Los Angeles and with many of the perks of a California paradise including good food, drinks, and beautiful scenery.


Like I do on most trips, I immediately sought out a local watering hole upon arriving in Ojai. That locale was Ojai Beverage Company, part tap house and part store, featuring craft beer, wine, and spirits, many of which are from California. I bellied up to the bar (with 50+ taps) for one of their tasting flights, starting out light with a hefeweizen from Southern Californias Drakes Brewing and worked up to their high gravity beers, like the Alesmith Speedway Stout. They rotate new beers weekly.

A short walk from Ojai Beverage Company was Ojai Vineyard’s tasting room, which has been producing wine for more than 30 years. Tastings are $15 for 6 wines that cover a number of varietals, although theyre known for their Syrah—so much so that they have a Syrah-only wine club.

With my share of booze in me for the afternoon, it was time to check into the Emerald Iguana Inn, a cozy boutique property off the main drag of Ojai, snugly situated beneath the canopy of oak, pepper, and sycamore trees. Its sister property, the Blue Iguana Inn, is located a few miles away on North Ventura Avenue, the main road through Ojai.

Dinner took me to Deer Lodge, which has been serving Ojai since 1932. Deer Lodge is what youd likely expect from a lodge restaurant: its walls are adorned with Western artwork and oddities, its dining room features a roaring fireplace, a menu full of wild game (like braised bison and wild boar chops), and a country band takes up a tune on the stage. At the Deer Lodge you go for a hearty meal, but stay for the experience. That and their unique moonshine cocktails.


To kick off the morning, its a complimentary breakfast at the Emerald Iguana Inn, enjoyed poolside, before trekking up the street to the Shelf Road Trail, a hiking trail that overlooks Ojai. After a ramble, I walk to Knead Baking Company, largely known for their breakfast and baked goods, but for me turns out to be my al fresco lunch spot. I enjoyed a flatbread pizza topped with a fried egg followed by mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiched between two homemade cookies.

From my hotel, Cloud Climbers, a local tour company, picked me up for a tour of the Ojai Valley. Whats unique about their tours is that no one tour is the same. We started by working our way up to the top of Meditation Mount, a hilltop retreat that overlooks Ojai. On the way back, we stopped at Ojais primary olive oil producers, Regalo and Ojai Olive Oil Company, both of which offer tastings. Our final stop took us to Old Creek Ranch Winery, a ranch that has produced wines for more than a century. With a full and active day behind me, the last stop of the day was at Azu, a Mediterranean restaurant and tapas bar, where I tried a little bit of everything, but got seconds of the fried stuffed chorizo dates wrapped in bacon.

It felt wrong to come all this way and not at least visit the AAA-rated Five Diamond Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Though not typically a spa guy, I enjoyed a full-body massage in the complex that felt like a resort in and of itself, totaling 31,000 square feet. While not a vegan, I picked up a sandwich on the way out of town at Hip Vegan, that I immediately scarfed down.

And with that, my getaway in the charming Southern California town of Ojai came to an end, reminding me that an escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles is closer than I may think. 

Emerald Iguana Inn
108 Pauline St
Ojai Valley, CA 93023
Price: $169 per night

Blue Iguana Inn
11794 N Ventura Ave
Ojai, CA 93023
Price: $119 per night

Ojai Beverage Company
655 E Ojai Ave
Ojai, CA 93023

Mon: Noon to 9 pm
Tue, Wed: 11 am to 10 pm
Thur, Fri, Sat: 11 am to 11 pm
Sunday: 11:30 am to 9 pm
Price: $4/$12 (Pint/pitcher start at)

Ojai Vineyards
109 S Montgomery St
Ojai, CA 93023

Sun – Thurs: 12 pm to 5pm
Fri – Sat 11am to 7pm
Price: $15 for a flight of six wines

Deer Lodge
2261 Maricopa Hwy
Ojai, CA 93023

Mon – Thurs 4:30 pm 1 am
Friday 4:30 pm – 2 am
Sat, Sun: 10:30 am – 2 am
Price: $12/$28 (Burger/Bourbon braised short ribs)

Knead Baking Company
469 E Ojai Ave
Ojai, CA 93023

Thursday – Saturday: 8 am – 4 pm
Price: $3/$2.50 (Large/small coffee), $14/$9 (Whole/half flatbread pizza)

457 E Ojai Ave
Ojai, CA 93023

Breakfast: Saturday & Sunday 8:30 am -3 pm
Lunch every day: 11:30 am -3 pm
Dinner every day: 5:30 p.m. – Close
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday 5:30 pm – 7 pm
Price: $9/$17 (Stuffed dates/Seafood paella tapas)


Drink Me Bars in Ojai
Drink Me Bars in Ojai
Drink Me Bars in Ojai
Drink Me Bars in Ojai