There’s so much to explore in this creative enclave.

Capri Hotel Ojai Communal Space

The fabulous interior of the Capri Hotel. Photo by Thomas J. Story.

Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.

Casoni and Stobo from Beato Chocolates

Courtesy of Beato Chocolates

Meet the Insiders: Lisa Casoni and Heather Stobo, Beato Chocolates

Crafted by gallerists Lisa Casoni and Heather Stobo, Beato Chocolates reflects the playful spirit of Ojai and the maverick artist Beatrice “Beato” Wood, who moved there in the 1940s, helping establish the charming California town as a creative hub. The two makers, who also own a home-goods company, share their local tips for this famed bohemian enclave in Southern California.


Ojai Valley Inn Resort & Spa
Ojai Valley Inn Resort & Spa.

Courtesy of Ojai Valley Inn

Ojai Valley Inn is “one of the last family-owned luxury resorts in the country. From golf to an array of spa treatments, it is full of luxury amenities.” The Capri Hotel is part of the ultra-hip Shelter Social Club group and “has been restored to have a laid-back vibe, pool, and is walking distance to town.” Also part of the group, The Ojai Rancho Inn “is an affordable option for those who like a more activated pool and common areas. It’s an easy walk into town. Grabbing some wine or beer at their poolside lounge, Chief’s Peak, is a must.”


Rory's Place - Rory and Meave McAuliffe
Rory (left) and Meave McAuliffe of Rory’s Place.

Thomas J. Story

Nocciola’s outdoor dining is “a favorite of the locals. We like to cozy up to the small bar area. Kat, the bartender, makes great nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks. The scallop appetizer and the pastas are always delicious.” Rory’s Place “is a great new addition to Ojai’s dining scene. For a large group, the front window is perfect and good people-watching. Finally, a place with fresh oysters!” At Ojai Rôtie, “sit outside along the wall to get a great view of Chief’s Peak and the Topa Mountains. The restaurant is known for its rotisserie chicken and wonderful sides. We also highly recommend taking chef Claud Mann’s bread to go.”


The Deck at The Dutchess
Drinks at The Dutchess.

Thomas J. Story

At “The Dutchess, we love to sit at the front bar and people-watch from the window while enjoying a well-crafted selection of drinks.” And at Tipple & Ramble, “the charming shaded patio is a great place to enjoy a late-afternoon glass of wine, cheese, charcuterie boards, and a Beato Chocolates bar. Plus, there’s a long table for playing games or for those cooler days and nights.”


Gara Hydrosol Workshop
A hydrosol distillation workshop at GARA Skincare.

Stephanie Helguera

The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts is a great place to take in the view and enjoy rotating art exhibits and pieces from the ‘Mama of Dada’s’ archives. GARA Skincare Hydrosol Distillation Workshop is a fun monthly class in a beautiful outdoor space” that will take you through a harvest and distill a hydrosol, as well as discuss different ways of distilling and working with plants. The Ojai Turtle Conservancy, founded by Eric Goode, the hotelier and creator of Netflix docuseries The Tiger King, offers “guided tours that are an amazing way to see some of the most beautiful and endangered turtles in the world.”


The sunlit interior of Bart's Books, an institution in Ojai, California.
Bart’s Books, an Ojai institution.

Thomas J. Story

Ojai Farmers’ Market is “the best place to find local produce, seasonal fruits, beautiful flowers, and local artists’ goods.” FiG and Bungalow by FiG have “an eclectic combination of local, handmade, and Fairtrade goods from all over. We love the curation. Bart’s Books is the world’s largest outdoor bookstore, and it’s been open since 1964. They have a collection of over 130,000 used and new books, ranging from rare, out-of-print gems to loved paperbacks.“