Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The garden at Suzanne's Restaurant in Ojai

Where have you been traveling this summer? I have been visiting some of my favorite spots in California. It's been a summer of road trips! After going to Napa in June, my husband and I recently travelled to Ojai and Santa Barbara where we spent four wonderful days. The beauty of these two places took my breath away. It seemed that everywhere I looked there was a garden and/or a view. It didn't hurt that there was also some great shopping!

 Ojai Valley Inn
Many of the cottages look out onto lushly planted courtyards

Ojai is a 90 minute drive north of Los Angeles and is one of the most magical spots to visit in southern California. Positioned at the base of several vast mountain ranges, it is definitely off the beaten track. In fact, it feels like one of those places that time has passed by. There are citrus groves, roadside fruit stands, and an old-fashioned arcade of shops downtown. For the hiker and nature lover, there are myriad trails and glorious sunsets. And if you want to unwind, the spa at the Ojai Valley Inn is one of the best. The hotel also has four swimming pools, a golf course, and absolutely beautiful grounds.  

I love the old Spanish architecture with its archways and intricate gates

The cottages are nestled in groves of old and graceful trees

The beautiful grounds and golf course

Perfect for taking walks at sunset when you can catch a glimpse of Ojai's famous "pink moment"

If you can tear yourself away from the Ojai Valley Inn, downtown Ojai has some great shops and restaurants, as well as some charming houses -- this is the Lavender Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Everyone seems to have a beautiful garden and the Lavender Inn is no exception

Boccali's, a roadside pizza stand, is a favorite spot for lunch
They serve wine from their own vineyard

In addition to fantastic pizzas, sandwiches and pastas, they also have some pretty good desserts

Not to be outdone in the garden department!

Dinner that night was on the patio at Osteria Monte Grappa
This charming restaurant has delicious Italian food

The bruschetta was fabulous

Modern Folk Living was one of the unique little stores I discovered on this trip. They have a beautifully curated selection of women's clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home decor. I especially loved their linen dresses and tops by Nuthatch, a company in Maine.

Our second dinner in Ojai was at Suzanne's where we enjoyed this beautiful view of the garden

On the way to Santa Barbara, it is always fun to stop in Montecito

 The gorgeous Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel in Montecito is a great place for lunch

I loved their summer cocktail menu

 A visit to William Laman is a must in Montecito; he carries great items for the house and garden

And Jenni Kayne Home has one of the most enchanting children's sections I have ever seen

Next stop was Santa Barbara and El Encanto Hotel

 El Encanto Hotel is a Santa Barbara icon that dates from the 1920's. It sits high amid lush gardens and offers a magnificent view of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. It has just undergone an extensive renovation and the results are stunning!

The view from the swimming pool

The cottages are are surrounded by beautiful gardens

The famous lily pond

The impressive brick arbors are covered in vines

I loved catching hydrangeas in this gorgeous light on a late afternoon walk

One of our favorite things to do when in Santa Barbara is to take the 40-minute drive to Los Olivos, a charming historic town in the Santa Ynez Valley. The first thing I spotted when we arrived was this rose-covered arbor. So beautiful. Los Olivos is in the center of Santa Barbara's wine country and has extensive views and magnificent scenery. It is a also a great place to do some wine tastings and eat lunch. We dined at Sides Restaurant, an old-fashioned barbecue-style cafe, famous for its house-made bacon. 

A typical wine-tasting room in Los Olivos
I loved its chalkboard message: "Drink wine, Everything will be fine"!

Our last breakfast at El Encanto's beautiful dining room and terrace before returning home

Where have you been traveling this summer? Have you taken any road trips? The best thing about these four days in Ojai and Santa Barbara was that we never had to get on an airplane. Sometimes it's just so much fun to get in the car and explore the wide open roads in your own neck of the woods! 


  1. Your post and photos make me feel like I've just had the most wonderful vacation!

  2. What beautiful places you have to explore so near to your home! My brother just moved to the LA area this weekend (he's studying veterinary medicine in Pomona) and I'm looking forward to visiting him over the next few years and getting to know the region better, especially the areas north of LA.

    I haven't made it out of the city yet this summer but I've been having fun exploring what Vancouver has to offer, which is plenty! Yesterday was a holiday here so I jumped on a ferry and spent the day on one of the small islands close to the mainland. Otherwise, there have been many weekends on the beach and hiking in the mountains. My real holiday is coming up at the end of the month (Switzerland!) and as much fun as I've had at home, I am really looking forward to getting away and having a couple of weeks off work.

  3. Such beautiful photos. I've been going to the Ojai Valley Inn for over 40 years, and our family is leaving tomorrow for a 4 day weekend there to celebrate my birthday. My mother lives in Montecito, so it's also a place I know very well and love. I agree that not getting on an airplane (and all that it entails) can make a vacation so much more relaxing. Ojai is my go-to spot when I want to relax, and in addition, they have one of the most beautiful golf courses in the country. So glad you had a wonderful trip, it truly looked magical.

  4. Such beautiful photographs (as always)! We've enjoyed lots of road trips this summer to Montana and Sonoma with family. Saturday we are off to Maui with kids and their significant others. I love family vacations. Thanks for sharing your beautiful road trip... and now Ojai and Santa Barbara are on my list.

  5. As a Santa Barbara native, you couldn't have picked better spots to visit. Thank you for such a great article on our wonderful town.

  6. Stunning photos some very English type gardens,we forget that USA is not a land of cities (you guessed right this is one Country I have not visited,Sunday you have whetted my appetite).
    Here on the estate we are in the middle of harvesting our wheat crop!! so only managed flying visits to Glyndebourne to see Amadeus,Mozart,plus London for the Virginia Woolf exhibition awesome :).

  7. Beautiful post! I have often thought that places like Napa, Ojai, Los Olivos and Carmel are amongst the most beautiful in the world. How fortunate that we live near by!

  8. It all looks so lush and beautiful...
    I will put those spots on my list for our next trip south.

  9. How Gorgeous........I was just in Montecito and did a post on it TODAY!Have you been to LOTUSLAND there........thats a MUST for you!If you were like me for all these years thinking cactus and succulents.......not my cup of tea well it's totally worth it!!!!You and I are are more ROMANTIC GARDEN lovers I believe.......but this is a MUST SEE!
    The hotel you stayed at in SANTA BARBARA looks divine and of course, I know the OJAI VALLEY INN and SPA!Lucky YOU!

  10. Many of the shops mentioned are also favorites of ours… we are very happy you found Wanda's, ModernFolkLiving. We visited the shop just after it opened and met Wanda, her husband and son - and the family dog. We also love William Laman - there's always something that catches our eye… If you and your readers would enjoy learning more from our story, about M.FolkLiving, we provide the link, here (written in 2011): http://thought2form.blogspot.com/2011/09/modernfolk.html

  11. I am a big fan of road trips. You're so fortunate to have such beautiful places within driving distance. I love all the green and beautiful flowers. Next weekend I am taking a road trip a few hours north of Phoenix to a friend's cabin in the woods and I am so looking forward to it. I plan to read and enjoy the (much) cooler weather.

  12. Thank you for sharing your vacation photos. It looks like you had a wonderful trip. I've never been to Ojai. Definitely adding it to my "must visit" list!