Ojai is south and inland of Santa Barbara. Nestled in a small California valley approximately 15 miles away from the Pacific coast, Ojai is a tiny town with approximately 7,500 residents. While Santa Barbara is known for its seafood, stunning coastline, and charming downtown, Ojai is considered more of a spiritual oasis. Visiting Ojai is a grounding experience, from the farm-to-table cuisine to Ojai Valley Inn’s spa treatments to the natural hot springs in Matilija Canyon. Here are The best things to do in Ojai that we listed in the post below.
The Beautiful Lake Casitas
Lake Casitas is an artificial lake created after the construction of the dam on Coyote Creek. The lake was made to provide water for important activities such as irrigation. Swimming is prohibited at the lake, however, you can enjoy camping, fishing, and boating in the serene environment of the lake. It is also surrounded by the Lake Casitas Recreation Area where you can enjoy golfing, lunch with the view of the lake, water park, and more.
The Magnificent Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest is the second-largest national forest in central and southern California that includes the majority of the mountainous land of the Californian coast. The forest is home to over 400 species of animals along with more than 1200 species of plants, which makes it a quintessential destination for nature lovers to enjoy birdwatching or to just explore the abundant flora and fauna of the forest. The best way to explore this green space is by walking on the various trails in the forest that are very easy to walk on.
Ojai Valley Museum
Housed inside a former Catholic church, the Ojai Valley Museum is dedicated to sharing the art, history, and culture of the Ojai Valley. A number of semi-permanent exhibits introduce visitors to the most important events in the historic evolution of the valley, and a permanent wilderness diorama allows visitors to get a close look at 12 different species of birds and animals. An interpretive garden sits behind the building, and there is also an art gallery used to showcase works by local artists. The museum is open every day of the week except for Monday, and admission is by donation.
Casitas Water Adventure
Part of the Lake Casitas Recreation Area, Casitas Water Adventure is a compact water park with two family-friendly water playgrounds. An 18-inch-deep lagoon boasts a central jungle gym with slides, bridges, and water features; parents can join their children in the water or relax on the complimentary lounge chairs. The other section offers a lazy river that passes by waterfalls and jet sprays, and tubes are available free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis. Food and drink are not permitted inside the park, but picnic tables and a snack shack can be found just outside the entrance.
Visit winery Casa Barranca
Organic winery Casa Barranca is located on an estate featuring the National Historic Landmark originally known as The Pratt House, an Arts and Crafts structure designed by famed architects Greene and Greene. Though the winery is not open to the public, they have a great tasting room in downtown Ojai’s old historic arcade. Casa Barranca is recognized as the first certified organic winery in the Central Coast region producing Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pink Moment Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc through natural and sustainable practices.
Ojai Valley Land Conservancy
Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization that buys the vacant lands in the Ojai Valley and then works towards preserving them by converting them into recreational areas where visitors can enjoy hiking, walking, running, or mountain biking while relishing the beauty of the valley. Some of their trails are easily accessible on foot and are located near downtown. They also host interpretive nature walks to encourage people to connect with the environment. Don’t forget to make a small donation to support this organization and its important work.
Stay At The Serene Ecotopia
Ecotopia is the hidden gem of Ojai. You can truly immerse yourself in nature here. It is a delightful mix of different ecologies, hot springs, and creeks and is sustained by a local community agricultural program. You can book your stay in advance on their website and choose various amenities according to your needs and budget. The serene environment of Ecotopia will make you grateful to be alive.