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Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Day In Ojai

Despite less than optimal weather, I ventured out to the small and charming city of Ojai (pronounced O-hi) on Friday afternoon. Ojai is located to the east of Santa Barbara and to the north of Ventura. Known for its day spas, prep schools, and its creative artist community, it's a quiet place with plenty of great restaurants, art galleries, and outdoorsy activities. Fancy a spot of tea? I highly recommend Vesta, which serves several variations of afternoon tea. The lemon custard and strawberry jam at Vesta made for a perfect topping on my scone, which I washed down with a smooth cup of Earl Grey. If wine is more your thing, then there is the Movino Wine Bar, which is located in the historic Arcade Shopping area. While there, Rains Department Store is worth a look. This gigantic specialty store sells everything from locally made soap and lotion to: hiking shoes, leather bags, painted tiles, cooking supplies, and gorgeous wind chimes. I picked up the most delicious coconut pancake mix and a divine bar of cranberry almond scented soap.


Above - the historic Spanish-style architecture of Ojai Ave. in Ojai.
Below - Ojai Ice Cream, store windows displaying glassware, a relaxing courtyard, and the Ojai Museum.

OjaiWhen you tire of shopping for antiques, organic produce, gifts, or browsing the art galleries on Ojai Ave., there are plenty of day spas in which to rejuvenate. There are also many hiking and biking trails as well as places to play golf and tennis. Although it takes less than an hour to drive to Ojai from Santa Barbara, it feels like a whole different world. It's small-town, remote feeling makes you feel as if you could be in another state, where the air is untouched by smog and there are more trees than people or cars.

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