I apologize for being a bad blogger and not taking enough pictures for this post.
Last weekend we went up to Ojai, an inland city north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. My brother's wife's family lives there and the wedding and reception were held there. Judging by the traffic and signs along the road, there were quite a few other weddings that weekend. I'm sure with all of the valleys and orchards there are probably some really pretty locations.
We stayed at the Hummingbird Inn from Friday to Sunday. The Inn is on Ojai's main road and is easy to get to from the 101 and 33 freeways. We liked staying there and would do so again. The Hummingbird Inn is an older hotel and it shows a bit in the outside but they started a remodel a few years ago and the touches they put in are nice.
We chose a room with a king bed over a room with two queens. We brought a twin sized air mattress for Tyler and there was plenty of room for it to the right of the bed (all of the roll-aways were reserved) . The room had a small closet but plenty of drawer space. We loved having a fridge and microwave. The room didn't feel cramped with three of us in it. I would have liked more space at the sink for getting ready, but if we had been there for an occasion other than a wedding it wouldn't have been as big of deal because I'm sure I wouldn't have been putting on a full face and doing my hair. It might be a tight squeeze for two women sharing the room.
The pool area was really cute but the pool wasn't heated. Since Ojai can get really hot in the summer, I guess they don't really need to heat it, but Tyler said it was a little cold. The jacuzzi was perfect at night. There was a bit of a chill in the air which is typical for that area at the base of the mountains.
Our favorite part of the stay was breakfast. The hotel puts out a full spread in the lobby. This isn't just coffee and dry cereal (though they do have that, too). They have a cast iron waffle maker and orange press! Tyler loved making his own waffle and squeezing his own orange juice. Ojai is known for its citrus so the oranges were fresh and super sweet. It was the best OJ I've ever had. If we ever go back, I'll make sure I have a bottle of champagne for mimosas. The breakfast spread also included toast, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, peanut butter, a jar of Nutella and an assortment of tea.
My other favorite perk was the WiFi and the computer in the lobby. The morning of the wedding, me, my brother, our grandmother and our mom were making revisions to the wedding ceremony script. I monopolized the entire tech setup transferring files between their computer, my laptop and iPad. It was a lot less stressful having access to another computer. The hotel staff was cool with me taking it over and didn't complain about all the paper we used formatting the script.
Because we were there for an event, we didn't get to explore the center of town. Phil and Tyler took a walk up the main street. Ojai Avenue has a coffee shop, bakery, movie theater, lots of women's clothes, art and furniture stores and restaurants. I also noticed a small park with a playground.
Friday evening we had the rehearsal dinner at Boccali's, an Italian restaurant at the end of town. We had a long table outside and ordered from a set menu. I was a little worried because of the reviews I'd read, but the dinner went off without a hitch. The food came out on time, people didn't have to wait long for beer or wine and everyone enjoyed their meal. I had the lasagna and ate all but a few bites it was so good.
The restaurant describes their signature dessert, strawberry shortcake, as world famous. I agree. Tyler, my father and I split one dish and I wished I had ordered one just for me. It was fantastic. The drive up to Ojai leads you through Oxnard, home of the Strawberry Festival (which was this past weekend 5/19 and 5/20). Oxnard berries are better than any other California grown berry (in my opinion) and the fruit in Boccali's shortcake was the perfect mix of sweet and tart.
I can't say for sure that we would go back to Ojai again. If we were more outdoorsy I think we would have had a great time. The Hummingbird Inn has beach cruisers that are free for guests to use.
There are plenty of bike trails, lots of hiking and Lake Casitas is not
too far away from the center of town. I think we would all have enjoyed nearby Santa Barbara or
even Ventura as a getaway.
If you visit, July might be the best time to visit because the annual Ojai Wine Festival and the Ojai Music Festival are both held then. But, Ojai is definitely cute and picturesque and since my new extended family lives there, I'm sure I'll get to know the area even better and come to love it.