Weekend Getaway: Ojai, Calif.
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Where to stay
Luxury Pampering: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Originally built in 1923 and now freshly renovated, this AAA five-diamond Spanish Colonial-style resort features a legendary spa and golf course, along with restaurants, an artist’s cottage (with daily classes in a variety of mediums), and an 800-acre ranch and stables for horseback riding. Full fitness facilities and classes are included when you book a spa treatment. Be adventurous and don’t skip the Kuyam communal mud treatment, which promises cleansing and healing. Rooms from $400 per night. 905 Country Club Road; 888.697.8780; www.ojairesort.com

Simply Charming: The Lavender Inn. This bed-and-breakfast is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. Gorgeous gardens are chock-full of, yes, lavender, as well as many other lush herbs, plants, and flowers. Most rooms have their own baths, and all have their own special charm. The Lavender Inn is also home to the Ojai Culinary School, which offers hands-on cooking classes hosted by visiting and local chefs. Need a little pampering? The Angelic Touch day spa is conveniently located next door. Rooms from $115 per night. 210 East Matilija Street; 805.646.6635; www.lavenderinn.com

Dog Friendly: The Blue Iguana Inn. The Blue Iguana has tons of old Mexico/California charm with tiled floors, arched entrances, and artistic details. You can even bring your pooch (for an additional nightly charge of $20). Rooms from $99 per night. 11794 North Ventura Avenue (Highway 33); 805.646.5277; www.blueiguanainn.com

Where to eat
The Local Hangout: Bonnie Lu’s.Expect a line for the rib-sticking omelets and steak-and-eggs breakfasts. They’re also known for great salads, sandwiches, and burgers for lunch. 328 East Ojai Avenue; 805.646.0207

For Foodies: Suzanne’s Cuisine. It’s not called the Chez Panisse of Ventura County for nothing. Fresh grilled vegetables, meat, and seafood with a mix of Italian and French influences characterize Suzanne’s dishes. Dine inside with a cozy, rustic French country-house feel (think blazing fireplaces and exposed beams) or outside in the garden. 502 West Ojai Avenue; 805.640.1961

Hole-in-the-Wall: The Oaktree Bakery and Café. It may be tiny, but the Oaktree is mighty. Owner/chef Karl Tappia has earned a reputation for his sinfully good pastry (get the chocolate croissant) and has recently expanded to sandwiches, pasta, and pizza. Don’t miss the out-of-this-world tuna sandwich and the fresh-squeezed lemonade. 469 East Ojai Avenue, at the corner of Fox Street; 805.640.1985

Where to drink
Wine Away: Movino. Ojai is not big on nightlife, but Movino has live music and good wine. What else do you need? 308 East Ojai Avenue; 805.646.1555

Tapas Plus: Azu. Housed in a 100-year-old bakery, this is a great place to meet for drinks and small bites. 457 East Ojai Avenue; 805.640.7987

Where to shop

Old School: Tottenham Court. Located along the arcade with a host of other shops, here’s where you’ll find trinkets and unusual greeting cards. Also sit down in the small indoor café or patio and have a spot of tea. 242 East Ojai Avenue; 805.646.2339

Totally Trendy: Treasure Beach. An eclectic mix of hip duds (True Religion, Big Star, AG, Paige, etc.), handcrafted leather bags, home furnishings, and gift items. Don’t miss the back room for sale items and reasonably priced finds like funky beach bags and drinkware. 928 East Ojai Avenue; 805.640.0611

Where to chill
Nature Lovers: Trails by Potter. Whether you want hiking, biking, or rock climbing, Ian and Stacy Potter are your go-to guides. The intensity is tailored to your fitness level. and you can even bike to the beach or taste local wines as part of your tour. Stacy, a former tennis champ, also offers tennis lessons. 805.646.0382; www.hikingojai.com

Park It Here: Libbey Park. Located in the center of town, Libbey Park is often the venue for music and art festivities. When nothing’s happening, it’s still a great place to hang under majestic oaks. Located on Ojai Avenue.

Water Babies: Lake Casitas. If you’re a major outdoorsy type (or have someone along who is), Lake Casitas is the place. Rent boats, fish, bike, hike, camp, and do all that other stuff that requires sunscreen and bug spray. Can’t bear to be disconnected? The campgrounds even have wi-fi. www.lakecasitas.info


Written by: Victoria Clayton

Victoria Clayton, a free-lance writer in Southern California, writes a monthly column for MSNBC.com and is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times and other publications. Besides being a fearless traveler, she’s coauthor of Fearless Pregnancy: Wisdom and Reassurance from a Doctor, a Midwife and a Mom.