To visit the Ojai Valley in Ventura County, California, whether you take the 33 from the Pacific north or south from the Los Padres National Forest or the 150 from Santa Paula west through Ojai or east from Carpinteria, you will slowly wind your way 15 miles or so among the chaparral and the orchards, with much of the hillsides still showing how it burned in the 2017 Thomas Fire.
Unroll your windows and let the scent of citrus blossoms fill the air. Smell the sage in the chaparral or the dampness of the sycamores along the creeks or Ventura River.At the end of the day, watch the sun paint the Topa Topa Mountains with splashes of color in a display famously known as “The Pink Moment.”
While my Aussie version of Siri pronounces it Oh-JI, it’s actually pronounced “Oh- Hi!” and that’s what it feels like in this small town of about 8,000– everywhere you go, you’ll be saying “oh, hi!” The word Ojai, however, comes from the Chumash: ‘Awha’y means moon, and the area is spectacular by moonlight.
By bright moonlight or abundant sunlight, Ojai Valley inspires and invites artistic expression — whether the medium is paint, pastels, words, or music with the Ojai Music Festival continuing to go strong since 1947. Artist Beatrice Woods, the Mama of Dada, famously shocked herself while living here until she died in her 90s in the 90s, attributing her long life to beauty (in men especially!) and chocolate.