This last post is a bit shorter simply because I haven’t had much time to write lately. It doesn’t reflect on how much we all loved Ojai! And the fun times we had in Malibu and Manhattan Beach, before flying back home.
2 nights in Ojai
This year has seen an unusual amount of rainfall in the Ojai valley. As a result, it’s never been so green and flowery according to the locals that we chat with. The scent of orange blossom follows us wherever we go, on the bike rides, for sunset cocktails at The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and around the firepit at the cuter than cute Caravan Outpost. There is indeed a special energy in this valley, surrounded by pretty mountains 360 degrees.
Spring is a great time to visit, as I am told the summer brings unbearable heat. it was the perfect time of the year to stay there.
The Caravan Outpost is a cluster of airstreams neatly arranged around large communal tables and a welcoming firepit. Marshmallows are roasted every night by the attentive staff. This place is pure happiness. It’s tasteful, thoughtful and incredibly welcoming. The five of us would have been tight in one of the classic airstreams so it’s not a bad thing that I booked Julian by mistake, the only mobile-home in the camp. Julian is appointed with everything a family might need. It has a cute loft bed and a pull out sofa in the small living room, and a comfortable tiny bedroom for the parents. Just perfect. How fun it would be to rent the entire camp with a large group of friends.
Ojai Rancho Inn is closer to the center of town. Its a motel turned into a stylish and friendly little hotel. For those who prefer luxury, the Ojai Valley Inn is the place to be. However, I find it slightly bland when we visit for cocktails at sunset, maybe because we have stayed in so many atmospheric places during our road trip.
El Capitan is a good option if wanting to stay closer to Santa Barbara (on the North side, about 20′ drive). It’s been around for a long time, and was a pioneer in the concept of glamping. We don’t really make time for Santa Barbara, a pity probably as I hear it’s a fun little seaside town (and I would love a yummy lunch at La Super Rica, raved about by Julia Child).
We’re a bit too far to try out La Super Rica so we head to Spencer Makenzie instead. It’s another self-proclaimed best taco in the world . The trip to Ventura is worth it, the burritos are to die for, the road through the hills of the Ojai Valley are so pretty. We don’t notice that Ventura is the porn capital of America … until some locals tell us so. And of course, we squeeze in a little trip to the local In N Out Burger on our way to the beach. Can’t come to America and not go to an In N Out Burger!
I could bring back anything from In the Field located across the road from a gas station turned yoga studio (only in California!). The little shop at the Caravan Outpost is also full of treasures. The towns has lots of cute places. Summer Camp is another one on the list. The children spend a long time diving into books at the sweet Ojai bookshop, all outdoor in the center of town, so large that you could spend entire days there.
2 more nights in Los Angeles
Instead of going back to Venice Beach, we explore Malibu and Manhattan Beach on our return to LA.
After a delicious lunch with our friends at the legendary Geoffreys, we spend the afternoon on Zuma beach . The wind is strong and the water is freezing cold but at least we have the beach to ourselves. The children jump in the waves with their wetsuits, courtesy of Malibu Makos with whom we have booked a surf lesson. Malibu Seafood, Neptune’s Nest and Malibu Farm are other places high up on my list.
Manhattan Beach, south of Venice, gives us a good feel for what beach living feels like in LA. Everything revolves around main street and the volley ball pitches on the sand. The week-end vibe is so chilled you could forget you are in one of the craziest and busiest cities in the world.
We spend time at the Getty museum on our last day in LA, taking in the expansive views over the city. We have one last big American pancake, at Uncle Bill’s in Manhattan Beach. And we thank our friends for lending us their house with a big fat American washing machine. Oh, the simple pleasure of bringing back home 5 suitcases full of clean clothes after two weeks on the road.