By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
I have found that there are very few places in Southern California that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season. One of those places that can and does offer a respite is Ojai, California. Several years ago I attended an Elderhostel in the Ojai Valley and the participants were offered an afternoon to explore this charming town. So, when I received the following suggestions for a get-a-way in Ojai from Janis Flippen of Flippen Public Relations, I wanted to share them with you readers. Ojai is located north and east (From the 101 take Highway 33 going east) of the city of Ventura in Ventura County.
You can plan a one-day sojourn but I recommend an overnight visit staying in any of the hotels or B&B’s that populate the Ojai Valley. Or, you can combine it with a stay in Ventura or Oxnard, where you can stroll along Main Street and visit the mission, where you might encounter one of Ventura’s famous ghosts. Ojai has much to offer a visitor, no matter the season. Hikers and bikers will appreciate the many paths that wind their way through Ojai’s beautiful mountain ranges. Back country Jeep tours visit local ranches, farms and wineries offering samples of some of their wares. The Ojai Music Festival, the Ojai Film Festival and the Ojai Playwrights Conference are just a few of the local cultural attractions. And, there’s the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and The Oaks for those who want a spa vacation.
While strolling through Ojai’s “downtown” you’ll find one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques (there’s a no chain store policy in Ojai) that offer you the opportunity to browse through everything from fine art to hand-crafted jewelry, locally-made specialties including teas, lotions, honey, olive oil, hand-made soaps, artwork, books and much, much more. If you’re thinking of a geta- way this coming weekend (Nov. 19 and 20), I have these suggestions for what to do and see in Ojai: The 15th Annual Holiday Home Look In will feature these homes (pictured right, photographs by Fred Rothenberg): El Guardian, the charm of European country living; Casa Montana, a contemporary ranch house; Arte et Labore, an exquisite hideaway; and Villa Ravina, a Tuscan estate. In addition you can visit the Holiday Marketplace where over 40 artisans and vendors will be exhibiting their wares.
Tickets for the Look In are $30 pp in advance, day-ofevent $35 per person. The Marketplace is free. Theater 150 at Ojai’s Nordhoff High School, has produced a twist on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet, setting the classic story in San Francisco’s Haight Street in the 1960s. The final performance will be on Sunday, November 20th. Later in the holiday season you can enjoy the First Annual Christmas Pantomime, Ojai’s take on the traditional Christmas Pantomime. The uproarious, slapstick musical extravaganza will run December 10- 23. Shows are Fridays at Saturday nights at 8 p.m., and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for kids under 12.
Another program features two concerts by the Celtic Woods family, an America’s Got Talent group, who will perform at the 4th Annual Holiday Celebration on Saturday, November 26 at 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, December 31 at 8 p.m. The concerts will be performed during “Molly’s Revenge” New Year’s Party. Tickets for the November event are $20 for adults and $10 for kids under 14. Prices for the New Year’s Eve celebration are $25 for adults and $12 for kids under 14. Both events take place at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club on Ojai Avenue.
Janis also provided me with what a few of Ojai’s inns are offering:
- Casa Ojai Inn – Fourth Night Free! An ecofriendly property, Casa Ojai Inn features beautifully appointed rooms designed with comfort in mind. The inn offers several intriguing packages including an “All Around Ojai” jeep tour with opportunities to see secret gardens, local landmarks and inspiring views within the Ojai Valley. Golf, fishing, and olive oil tasting are also provided. Holiday special – buy three nights, Sunday-Thursday, and get the fourth night free! Rates start at $99. Offer valid November 15, 2011 to January 2, 2012.
- Ojai Valley Inn & Spa – Shopping Spree Package A five-diamond, worldclass luxury resort, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa covers 220 acres and features an 18-hole golf course studded with century-old oak trees. Fireplaces are available in many of the rooms. The Mediterranean-style resort houses an award-winning spa with a myriad of treatments to choose from. Spend the day shopping in town, then give your feet a rest with a Spa Ojai pedicure; start the next day with breakfast for two. The Shopping Spree Package starts at $395 per night, based on double occupancy, and includes complimentary valet parking. Offer runs through December 22, 2011. Holiday special events at the resort include the annual Tree Lighting ceremony on November 16 and Gingerbread House display unveiling on November 27.
- Lavender Inn Bed & Breakfast – Cooking Specials & more! ‘Holiday Styling & Décor around the Home’ – Sunday, December 4, 2011 – Lead by Décor Stylist, Daniel Brady, learn how to decorate a personalized wreath, style mantles with magical displays, decorate a holiday buffet or create a holiday dining table and personalized center piece… $65 per person. ‘Home Holiday Boutique & Lavender Inn Open House’ – Sunday, December 11, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Daniel Brady and other local artisans share their unique home and garden décor and holiday decorations. View holiday gift items for the home for purchase. Stay the night of the 11th, 12th or 13th, and get 10 percent off the room! Overnight stays include a lavish morning breakfast each morning and evening wine and cheese. Relax in the inns main lobby area and enjoy a roaring fireplace!
- The Oaks at Ojai. Don’t forget about fitness this holiday season! The Oaks at Ojai has several packages running – The Midweek Stress Break Package including five nights, gourmet spa cuisine meals, the complete daily fitness program and choice of a personal service. Rates start at $995.
If camping is your thing then I recommend nearby Lake Casitas (pictured above). There are over 400 sites to choose from for tents, tent trailers, campers and RVs, with some sites so close to the lake you can hear the lapping water, while others are nestled among the trees and still more are located on hillsides with views of the sparkling lake. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and some are near to the children’s playgrounds. You’ll even find shower houses with bathrooms.
For more information about these Ojai holiday offers and for details about visiting any time of the year visit www.ojaivisitors.com or call 1-888-OJAI-NOW.