Travel: Ojai for Finery, Winery and Flavor

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BY MARY MC GRATH

With stay-cations still being all the rage, where can you go to find some finery, winery and flavor? Why not Ojai, less than two hours away from Los Angeles?

The Lavender Inn is a cozy B & B, plus culinary school, spa and more. All Photos: Mary McGrath

Ojai is blessed with a temperate climate, and because of this, engages visitors all year round. Expansive fields enable the local farmers to grow olives, lavender, pixie tangerines, and many other crops, many of which can be converted into a variety of items for consumer usage.

Need a getaway for the entire family? Head to the Ojai Olive Farm where you can enjoy the unbridled terrain of expansive olive orchards. There, you can enjoy an olive oil tasting where the nuances of the oils can be savored much like sampling the fine wines of Burgundy.

Some of the oils we sampled had a bite, some were citrus in nature, and others were infused with rosemary. In the back room, you can see the industry of olive oil production, which is a real education in itself.

Olive oil tasting at the Ojai Olive Farm.

For wine enthusiasts, head to the ever-popular Casa Barranca Wine Tasting & Gallery. They even have some organic wines for purists!

Striped Bass at Feast Bistro.

Nearby, there’s the New Oak Ranch, where you can see how lavender is grown and incorporated into a variety of products. We took home a jar of Lavender Tomato Jam, and slabbed it on toast with cream cheese. I’m sure the jar will be empty by the end of the week.

Lavender fields at the New Oak Ranch.

Ojai is an artisan’s delight, with many shops sprinkled along the main artery of the city. Head to Human Arts, a gallery of contemporary crafts, jewelry and furniture, where you can see a vast display of original creations.

Cooking class at the Lavender Inn-on the left:Karen Misuraca, on the right, Lee Daley (far left top is Janis Flippin).

What fun is it to travel without eating? For casual Italian dining, try Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta, but make sure you save room for their delicious strawberry shortcake, a coveted family recipe. For fine dining, the fusion at Feast Bistro is a must, showcasing the talents of Susan Coulter.

Strawberry Shortcake from Boccali's Pizza and Pasta

The Lavender Inn provides a cozy B&B with one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. They even host cooking classes to satiate the Julia Child in you, drawing upon the local lavender to incorporate into a variety of dishes. The price is reasonable— starting at $180 for a room to $275-$300 for a 1000 square foot cottage (inquire about specials).  Also not to miss is their new spa.

Whether it’s a rustic getaway you’re after, some rural family fun, or a romantic getaway, check out the oh-so-close Ojai where your stay-cation dreams can come true.

Eclectic offerings at the HumanArts Gallery.

For more information about the many more places to visit and stay: www.ojaivisitors.com 1-888-OJAI NOW

Mary McGrath is a freelance writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including: Newsweek.com, Good Housekeeping, Rangefinder Magazine, After Capture Magazine and Copley Newspapers.  She specializes in travel, fine dining, and educational pieces regarding photography.  She can be reached through her web site at www.marymcgrathphotography.com or grathy@aol.com

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.