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Downtown Ojai was created in the 1920s. There's the long Spanish arcade with its endless white arches (not very pretty somehow) where you can stroll and look at antique stores if that's your cup of tea. For kids, there's a cool independent icecream store. Ojai tries to support independent stores and not allow chain stores. There's a tiny independent bookstore called Local Hero Books. If you walk through an opening in the historic arcade you come to a lovely revitalized area called Ojai Arcade Plaza, with more stores, lining Matilija Street. Here is a wonderful toy store called Serendipity Toys. It's cramped but there is every imaginable unique toy you could think of. There's also a nice fountain that kids enjoy.
Ojai Pizza, on Ojai Ave, near Montgomery St, is a cool place to eat. It's a happening place and all the buzz will keep your kids entertained. The food is good too.
Also on Matilija Street, though a few blocks to the west, is Bart's Books, which you must check out! It is an outdoor bookstore. Tables with umbrellas are set out under trees and vines, and bookcases filled with used books surround you. It's a pretty setting. Usually used books are so dusty but since they are outside you hardly notice!
The post office tower is a lovely landmark, with it's Spanish bell tower reaching up to the sky. Here kids enjoy climbing up the very steep ladder while comtemplating the sign that tells them to do it "at their own risk."
Across the street from the main arched arcade is Libbey Park, where locals gather around the fountain. There's a large old-fashioned colorful metal playground. Behind that, the lack of grass under the trees isn't so pretty, but there is a nice pavilion, Libbey Bowl, where outdoor concerts and festivals are held. This can be lovely in the evening.
Don't miss the Sunday Farmer's Market in downtown Ojai which is always charming. It's held from 9-1 behind the arcade at 300 E. Matilija Street.
Ojai is a very progressive place, and leads the way in green building, organic school lunches, and other great earth-friendly goals. It is also a magnet for artists, poets, playwrights, and musicians, and the home of several elite boarding schools.
The prettiest spot in the whole of Ojai is Ojai Valley Inn and Spa which you must take a stroll around while you are in the area!
Like all inland California towns, Ojai can be suffocatingly hot in summer, so check the weather and prepare accordingly!
While you're in Ojai, take a peaceful drive through the orange groves, or take in the great vista at Ojai Valley Lookout. Let your kids examine a plaque with mountain ranges and their heights at Cluff Vista Park, which is jsut walking distance from downtown.
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Downtown Ojai's main strip is located on Highway 150 (Ojai Avenue) between Signal Street and Montgomery Street. Matilija Street, one street back, also has some cool stores.
To get to Ojai, take Highway 33 from Ventura or Highway 150 from Carpinteria just south of Santa Barbara. Highway 150 from Carpinteria to Ojai is a stunning drive through forest and winding mountain passes, and past glistening Lake Casitas.
Bart's Books, 302 W. Matilija St, (805) 646-3755.
Java & Joe, 323 E. Matilija Street, (805) 646-3138.
Serendipity Toys, 221 E. Matilija Street, (805) 646-2585.
Ojai Icecream, 210 E. Ojai Avenue, (805) 646-6075.
Local Hero Bookstore, 208 E. Ojai Avenue, (805) 640-9250.
Ojai Pizza, 331 E Ojai Ave, call (805) 646-7878
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Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.