Last Sunday Jason and I had an early flight from Charlotte to California to spend a few nights at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. The reason for our little getaway was thanks to Jason’s company and lucky for me, spouses were invited. Even though this was considered a work trip they had plenty of fun things planned for us and we brought home some great memories from our trip.
Much of the valley is filled with small, family run farms, with the charming and rustic town of Ojai sitting in the valley’s center. Ojai’s culture is heavily focused on its local organic agriculture and we got to see this first hand for most, if not all, of our meals. An endless supply of fresh fruit was at our fingertips throughout the resort and each morning at breakfast. Lunches and dinners were filled with locally grown herbs and vegetables and I ate my fair share of Ceviche, as it seems to be pretty popular there.
I found this adorable book store on a run one morning and the book lover in me found it fascinating. So much so that we had to run by it again the next day so I could snap a picture. From what I could tell most, if not all the books were used, and several were displayed on the outside of the building. The windows were screened in allowing for a mostly open atmosphere on the inside. Small tables were set up for you to grab a book and a cup of coffee and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere this book store provided. If you wish to purchase a book from the outside shelf after hours you simply leave your change for the price marked on the inside of the book. So much love for this little store.
On Tuesday we had the whole day to do what we wanted so Jason and I rented a car and drove into Santa Barbara, which was only about 45 minutes from Ojai. The planner in me had done some research prior to our trip so I had a few things on my list that I wanted to check out. Our first stop was Butterfly Beach, located across from the Four Seasons. This picturesque beach is small, yet beautiful with its dark golden cliffs, making it the perfect spot to sit and relax.
We left Butterfly Beach and headed into town to walk along State Street and eventually stop for lunch at The Hungry Cat, which I had read great reviews for prior to the trip. I loved the small, cozy atmosphere of the restaurant and the food lived up to our expectations. We started with the raw oysters and for my meal I got the braised mussels with garlic, shallots, fennel, vermouth and saffron butter served with grilled bread. The bread dipped into that broth was everything.
After a quick Google search from Jason he asked if I wanted to check out Rattlesnake Canyon, since we had some time to spare before heading back. This little adventure ended up being my most favorite part of our day. The name comes from its curvy roads and as you make your way up the canyon you are surrounded by breath-taking views of Santa Barbara. For someone who isn’t a big fan of heights I was holding on tight to my seat but after we made our way to the top I was so glad we did it.
Jason’s company did a great job of adding in special details to make the trip one of a kind. During dinner our first night Lee DeWyze, the winner of the 9th season of America Idol, performed for us. Even though I stopped watching this show many years ago I still thought this was very cool .
We were able to pick an activity to do prior to the trip and Jason and I chose the biking and kayak tour. It was a surprisingly chilly day which made for a nice and cool bike ride throughout the valley. I thought the kayak portion of our trip would be a bit more challenging due to the weather (basically I hate being cold and dreaded getting in the water) but the sun came out right as it was time to get in the water. I was able to stay somewhat dry but Jason on the other hand was in the back and had to endure my unfortunate rowing skills.
Dinner on our last night was located in an old red barn. A buffet was set up with lots of fresh vegetables, salads, shrimp, beef, chicken and chili. After dinner, a bluegrass band set up in the barn and we ended the night with drinks and dancing before calling it a night so we could catch our early flight back to Charlotte the next morning.