Located just 90 minutes from Los Angeles and 30 minutes from the beach, the Ojai Valley is perfectly situated to take advantage of the best California has to offer. Its charming downtown corridor is characterized by Spanish Revival architecture and is filled with excellent restaurants, shopping, and wine and beer tasting opportunities. At the heart of it, all is the rambling Libbey Park, which features a large playground, tennis courts, and a world-class outdoor amphitheater, the Libbey Bowl. This artistic community is home to several galleries as well as the state’s oldest nonprofit art center but is also the hub of cutting-edge contemporary music with the annual Ojai Music Festival.
Surrounding it all is the Los Padres National Forest, a wonderland offering myriad outdoor adventures — from casual morning hikes to world-class rock climbing. It’s not surprising, then, that its people are passionate about the environment, and support numerous organizations like the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and its 2,000-plus acres of land free and open to the public.
Ojai is also a popular destination for spiritualists, as the home of the Krishnamurti Foundation and the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. And Ojai’s geographic orientation — it runs east to west, rather than north to south as most valleys do — has led some to hail it as a unique energy vortex, making it a sought-after destination for those seeking reflection, inner healing, and self-realization. The Chumash Native American tribes, too, have considered this area a sacred place for thousands of years.
But Ojai is also a thriving agricultural region that supports some of the best citrus, avocado, olive and lavender crops on the West Coast and beyond. A tight-knit community full of bohemians, outdoorsmen, artists, and innovators, Ojai stands as one of the jewels in California’s crown.
Edible and Medicinal Herbs of the Southern California Coast
by Lanny KauferThe Southern California Coast stretches from the Santa Maria River in the north to the U.S.-Mexico border. This fertile region is home to countless edible and medicinal herbs prized by foragers and herbalists. Both native and non-native species can be found in Southern California’s springtime mountains, canyons, valleys, yards, and gardens. Read More
By Kerstin KuhnThe English writer W. Somerset Maugham once wrote that “there are few things so pleasant as a picnic lunch.” And who would disagree? After all, what can beat the delightful simplicity of spreading a blanket and relaxing in nature with your favorite friends and a basket of food?Read More
Sightseeing by Saddle
Get off the beaten path with these horseback riding companies
By Marlowe HastIf you’re yearning to get away from it all, there’s just nothing like putting on a brimmed hat, swinging your leg over a horse, and getting out into the wilderness. It compels you slow down and find a new perspective, as the rhythm of the trail sets the pace. Horses are a part of life for many along the Central Coast, and visitors — both experienced riders and beginners — have several options to experience that lifestyle by trekking out into wild places. Here are three from each county to get you started on your outdoor adventures.Read More
The Alchemy of Ojai Botanika
Eco-friendly soaps and candles find a following in Central Coast shops — and on the web
Story by Misty Hall Photos by Malina MajikinaIn a lot of ways, Ojai Botanika bridges the gap between old-school and new. Founder Malina Majikina started her soap and candle company the way craftspeople have done since, well, forever: through word of mouth. But her business really took off when she began connecting with customers through social media platforms, which allowed her to vastly expand her reach. Today, Ojai Botanika ships its all-natural soaps, candles, and curios around the world.Read More
Tri-tip tribe: Searching for the best barbecue on the Central Coast
Story and photos by Katherine McMahonBarbecue: Technically, it’s just food cooked over a flame. The term comes from a Native American word for slow cooking meat over a fire. But today there is so much cultural complexity that goes along with the word, particularly when meat is involved. Depending on where you’re at and who you ask, you’ll get very different definitions. While many famous barbecue styles come from the southern U.S., there are countless other varieties like Hawaiian, Korean, and even a style native to the Central Coast dubbed Santa Maria style. In my travels on the Central Coast, I have eaten at barbecue restaurants that encompass a range of tradition and innovation, drawing from regional preferences and those across the globe.Read More
Fall Comfort Food
By Randy Graham
Fall brings a yearning for cozy blankets, hot apple cider, and comfort foods here on California’s Central Coast. One of my go-to comfort foods is poutine with plenty of tangy gravy.
My riff features French fries, cheese curds, and gravy made with vegetable stock and rice vinegar. If you’re looking for comfort food for Halloween or Día de Los Muertos, give my quesofundido a try. It is good with a bowl of fresh tortilla chips or small handmade flour tortillas for dipping. If you need to provide comfort food to vegetarians visiting at Thanksgiving, we have you covered there too.
Try my veggie meatballs made with walnuts, onions, fresh sage, and mild longhorn cheese. Veg heads and meat lovers of all ages love this recipe. AnotherThanksgiving favorite of mine is my mom’s riced potatoes recipe, made with russet potatoes, butter, half-and-half, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.Read More