Oh Hey, Ojai.

(I know, I must be the 10,452 person in history to make a joke on the pronunciation similarities of Ojai and "oh hey." But it's so good! I can't resist! In fact I have to include this too:



OK, I'm done. Back to the main event...)

We just spent a delightful babymoon in Ojai this past weekend. OH SO FUN. I highly recommend to everyone, pregnant or not, to take a jaunt up there! It's such an easy weekend getaway from Los Angeles - it's less than two hours, it's not too pricey, and it's just beautiful.

Here's the rundown of everything we loved!

THE HOTEL - OJAI RANCHO INN
This place! So cute!
Ojai Rancho Inn was exactly what we wanted and needed. It's a delightful little revamped and hipsterized motel on the edge of town (close to the more well-known but more expensive Ojai Valley Inn & Spa). They have great big king size beds, lovely little porches, and either a jacuzzi or kitchenette in every room. Ooh, and free wifi plus HBO and Showtime. The decor is on point - rustic with a hint of western flair.

The Rancho Inn is owned by the Shelter Social Club, and now that we've stayed here plus their hotel in Solvang, I think it's safe to say I love these guys and the way they operate. Great attention to detail, quality customer service, and they know how to create fun, unique, and comfortable spaces.

One note - their pool is closed right now because they're in a fight with the health department. Obviously we didn't need to use it, but I hope for their sake they can get it squared away by the summer months. The pool area looked beautiful, with a nice yard, lots of sitting areas, and a teepee.

OH, and they just put in a great bar. Which leads me to...

THE BAR - CHIEF'S PEAK
We loved this place so much, we came here both nights (and that's not just because it was attached to our hotel). Chief's Peak is the Rancho Inn's bar - it's a tiny little place that fits maybe 15 inside and another 15 on their poolside patio. It's such a great atmosphere - it feels like you've stumbled upon a secret. A very well-decorated secret with tasteful music and yummy drinks. They had a terrific beer and wine selection, along with soju and shrub cocktails - I was able to have the pomegranate tangerine habanero shrub sans soju and it was just delightful. I bought a bottle to bring home.

We enjoyed chatting with some of the other customers and, most of all, the bartenders! Both nights the bartenders were great conversationalists - hilarious, hip, and smart locals with a keen insight to Ojai.

THE BREAKFAST - KNEAD BAKING COMPANY
Happiness in the form of a sandwich.
Lovely little bakery in town with super yummy breakfast sandwiches. It looked like they had delightful lunch offerings and tasty baked goods, but seriously...the breakfast sandwiches are the star of the show. Their bread is insane, and the combination of flavors is perfect.
Knead has a cozy indoor seating area and a much bigger stone patio/garden outside.
Also, we saw Thomas Middleditch there (of Silicon Valley fame) and felt super cool.

THE OLIVE OIL
Ojai Olive Oil is totally worth the trip. It's about ten minutes east of the main town of Ojai, and it's quite a pretty drive through some of the neighboring farmland and beautiful groves bearing lots of delicious-looking fruit. The place gives tours Wednesdays and Saturdays, and they're totally free and totally educational! I learned a lot about olive oil - for example, I didn't know that "extra virgin" means that no heat is applied, no chemicals are added, nothing - the oil is literally just separated from the olives, strained, and bottled. Isn't that neat? (Well, I thought it was.) Also the old lady who owns it with her husband gives the tours. She is French and takes this all very seriously.

You get to see the olive groves and the machine they put all the olives in and most importantly, you get to TASTE lots of olive oil. They had something like seven varieties, plus 11 types of balsamic vinegar as well. We dogged on that oil and vinegar, I tell you what. And bought two bottles.

It should be noted we saw Thomas Middleditch here too. 


The olive grove. #olivesonolivesolives

THE TOWN 
The town of Ojai itself is adorable. There's a bunch of little shops to stop in, lots of cafes and restaurants and wine tasting spots, and it's just so pretty! On one side of the main drag is a big beautiful park, and on the other side they host the famous Ojai Farmers Market on Sundays, with loads of fresh veggies, meat, and most importantly, citrus fruit grown nearby. Everyone is very friendly, and everyone is very into made in Ojai. They explicitly told us when we entered stores that "none of this stuff came from Santa Barbara or Ventura." Apparently that is important to some people.

One of my favorite stores was a bit off the main drag - it's an outdoor bookstore called Bart's Books. That's right, I said outdoors! It's such a pleasant and unique place! I could have perused their used books and just hung out for hours!

Nonchalantly hanging out at Bart's Books. This is my favorite pillar.

THE DINNER - AZU
Our best dinner was at Azu, an upscale tapas place in town. Super cute place, great atmosphere, and a good tapas menu with a heavy Spanish influence (as it should be). We really enjoyed the Brussels sprouts (which came with pomegranate seeds, a bright and refreshing twist), and the albondigas (because meatballs are always the best).

And, of course, we saw Thomas Middleditch here. You'd think we'd be besties by this point, right? Or at least issued a restraining order (I swear we weren't stalking him. It's just a small town!).

THE SUNSET - MEDITATION MOUNT
A great place to watch the sunset is Meditation Mount. Holy cow is it pretty up there! It's this sweet little garden with benches and some koi ponds set up on the edge of a mountain. You can look down on the glorious view of the valley and/or spend a little quiet time with a book or your thoughts and/or, of course, watch the sunset.

Apparently Ojai is known for their "pink moment" just after sunset. Basically the sun bounces up and reflects off the mountains opposite to the sun (to the east, for those of you who don't know the sun sets in the west). It's quite pretty! But the sunset itself is breathtaking, especially from that height over those mountains. Lots of people were there watching it with us, but everyone was sort of hushed and respectful (it being Meditation Mount and all). At first I was like - why are we all being so quiet? But by the end I really appreciated the silence! It was, indeed, a meditative moment at the end of a lovely day.

Would you LOOK at that VALLEY, people. 

And there are plenty of other super fun things to do in Ojai, depending on when you go (and what sort of alcoholic consumption you're looking for). You could hit up the spa, or lounge by the pool, or go for a great hike, or drink loads of wines (at actual wineries nearby or their tasting rooms in town). There's lots to do!

We had a great time! Babymoons for everyone!

Brandon's album cover.