Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ojai's Top Ten Summer Adventures

1)   Take a hike!  Bring sunscreen, water, a camera, a buddy and a sense of adventure.  There are two trails at the north end of Signal from the center of town: Pratt Trail and Shelf Road. Shelf Road is well-traveled and offers unparalleled views of the valley.  Pratt is a bit narrower and a tad more ambitious with a few opportunities to splash in the creekbed.  At El Roblar and Rice, you will find a series of trails in the Ventura River Preserve.  For free guided hikes in the preserve, visit the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s website at  And if you are as sure-footed as I am, you’ll be needing a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, too!

2)   Music under the stars!  Outdoor concerts in this small town are a romantic call to yesteryear and Libbey Bowl is the place to be.  Bring your bug repellent, a blanket and a seat cushion.  It all starts with the 59th Annual Music Festival, June 9-12 (go to  This is followed with Wednesday evening concerts all summer long (call 646-8126 for more info).  You’re swooning, aren’t you?

3)   Festival Mania! There are so many to choose from!  In addition to the aforementioned Music Festival, there’s also the Wine Festival on June 12 (see, the Lavender Festival on June 4 (see, the Art Ojai Summer Stroll June 24-25 (call 646-1525), the Playwrights Conference August 11-21 ( and the Shakespeare Festival July 15-August 6 (

4)   Fourth of July in Ojai!  This little town has it all: a concert at Libbey Bowl the night before, a parade through town, a community picnic, and fireworks at the high school.  It’s an idyllic piece of Americana for sure.  Most people plan their summer vacations around Ojai’s Independence Day festivities; it’s not to be missed.

5)   Boccali’s!  A summer right of passage for any Ojaian calls for an early evening jaunt to the other side of town for Boccali’s Tomato Salad.  Tomatoes are in season for a short time and are freshly picked from their ranch, making this dish an almost mandatory accompaniment to your summer meal.  And don’t forget the fresh-squeezed lemonade and the famous strawberry shortcake!  And you can “leave home without it,” because this is a cash only business.  Call 646-6116 for reservations.

6)   Farmer’s Market!  There’s nothing like the Ojai Farmer’s Market in summer.  It’s alive with eager shoppers and produce hawkers.  Berries are bursting with flavor and sweet lavender perfumes the air.  And there may even be a fiddler or a complete bluegrass ensemble to entertain you.  It takes place every Sunday morning behind the arcade. 

7)   Bike the Trail!  Take a spin from Ojai to Ventura on the bike path in late afternoon when the hottest part of the day has passed.  It’s all downhill, making for a leisurely ride.  If you’re as in-shape as me, you’ll want to arrange for a pick-up at the bottom of the hill!  No bike?  No problem, call Bicycles of Ojai at 646-7736.

8)   Pink Moment!  The time 10 minutes before sunset yields a sacred daily ritual in Ojai.  The setting sun imparts a warm rosy glow to the Topa Topa Mountains, while all life screeches to a halt to take in the magical moment.  You can see it from anywhere, but the best place to see it?  Ask for the corner patio table at L’Auberge, where French Country cuisine is served up with genuine Ojai hospitality.  Call 646-2288 for reservations.

9)   Go climb a rock!  Yes, you read that right, there’s rock climbing in Ojai, even for novices.  Foothill Crag off the Pratt Trail is where you’ll make your ascent.  But if you’re as agile as I am, you’ll be needing a guide.  Contact Ian Potter at 

10) People watch!  Ojai has no shortage of interesting characters and the perfect place to see the inhabitants of this quirky town is Ojai Coffee Roasters.  Make your way down the arcade and cross the street.  Order a half-caff-no-whip-double-latte and have a seat at one of their sidewalk tables.  Now watch and listen.

Published Summer 2005 in the Ojai Valley Visitors Guide.