Leah Explores … Denia

When a good friend got married in Spain in May, myself and one of my favourite travel buddies decided to make the most of being there. We not only celebrated their marriage, but also explored the beautiful Spanish town of Denia, as well as some of the surrounding areas. We didn’t stay for too long; we had two full days plus two half days, but managed to squeeze a lot into a little time.

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Stay:
We weighed our options and ultimately decided to rent an Air B&B. Whilst there were some beautiful hotels in the area, we felt like a Air B&B was the best option for us. Our apartment was located close to the Marina, not far from the Old Town and featured a stunning rooftop patio with views of the castle. One thing to keep in mind if you are staying in the area and renting a car is that parking in the area is pretty limited to street parking and the occasional car park, so be prepared for some narrow streets and parallel parking.
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Other options:
Hotel Nou Roma
A couple of people who attended the wedding stayed her and having seen some of the pictures it looks lovely. Right in the middle of the Old Town of Denia, and within walking distance of pretty much everything in town, this boutique hotel should be a contender if you’re looking for something more in the action.
Hotel Los Angeles
Located a little way out of the hustle and bustle of the town, but right on the beach with stunning views, this hotel is definitely worth considering if you want something more low key and relaxing.
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See and Do:
We had a day and a half for exploring, in which time we managed to fit in a decent amount, including venturing a little further afield to visit Guadalest and Fonts De L’Algar.
Denia Castle
There is no doubt that this is one of, if not the main attraction in Denia. The castle dominates the skyline and watches over the city. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries there is a lot of history and beautiful details to explore. We just looked around the grounds and took in the stunning views that they offer, but there is a museum you can visit too. One thing to keep in mind is that they only accept cash for the entrance fee, which is three euro’s, so make sure you have some on you.
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Marina and beaches
Denia is a port town with ferries that run to Ibiza as well as other destinations. This means that there are miles of beaches to check out as well as the marina to stroll around and daydream about boating in the Mediterranean.

Stroll around town
One of my favourite things to do whilst on vacation is to just wander around the local area, and get lost in a new place. Denia is the perfect city for this, especially around the Old Town where the streets are narrow and the buildings are beautiful.

Eat and Drink
If you don’t go to Spain and eat all the Paella and drink all the Sangria are you even really in Spain? Within thirty minutes of checking into our Air B&B we were on our first glass of Sangria. As for Paella we went to Tasca Les Monges in the the Old Town, which was recommended to us by the Bride and approved by her Spanish Husband, win win.

Have you been to Denia? What was your highlight? Let me know in the comments.
Happy exploring.

Leah Explores … Guadalest

Guadalest is a tiny village located up in the mountains with stunning views of the valley below. Not too far outside of Benidorm, Alicante and Denia it is the perfect place for a quick day trip. There isn’t too much to do there, it is a village after all, but the views more than make up for a lack of activities.

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There was a restaurant located at the bottom of the mountain, which we stopped for lunch at, but it is worth keeping in mind that there were more choices once you to up to to the top. As well as restaurants and cafes there were also abundant souvenir and gift shops, in the village square. As well as plenty of places to stop in and get an ice cream to cool off and reward yourself for climbing up to the top.

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We decided to do the self guided tour of the castle which only cost a few euro’s, and provided some beautiful views of the surrounding valley, as well as an insight into the history of the area. Plus it didn’t take too long, and provided some cool shade from the blistering heat.

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simply stunning
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the castle
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taking in the views

 

There was a car park at the bottom of the mountain, pretty much opposite the entrance of the village, which was convenient. The cost of parking was cheap too, around two euro’s.  Whilst I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest a trip to Guadalest, it is worth remembering that the walk up to the top of the town (where the killer views are) involves cobblestones and stairs, making it a bit of a challenge for anyone who struggles walking, is in a wheelchair, or small children in strollers.

views from the top
views from the top

Leah Explores … Palm Springs

I have a confession to make; I have actually been to Palm Springs twice before, but never actually done anything more than sit by the pool and go to Walmart to collect camping supplies for Coachella. I decided it was time to rectify that situation and head into the desert. My mum was here for a few weeks, and as has become our tradition during her summer visits we try to go away as much as possible. We’d already been to Galiano Island and in previous years have gone down to Las Vegas, mainly because it’s cheap to get to from Vancouver and because we can eat, drink and lie by a pool there. This year we mixed it up a bit and decided upon a change of scenery, so we headed into the blistering Palm Springs sun.

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Beautiful Palm Springs

Stay:
I stayed at The Monroe which was pretty conveniently located at the north end of Palm Canyon Drive, which is the main strip in Palm Springs, so to speak. I found the hotel through booking.com and it had the dream combination of being reasonably priced and well reviewed! It was absolutely perfect for our stay as it had free parking, decent rooms and a great sized pool – win!

Eat:
I had so many delicious meals in Palm Springs, which actually surprised me a bit because I wouldn’t automatically think of it as a foodie haven … until now.
Lulu’s California Bistro
This place was huge, and had a menu big enough to rival The Cheesecake Factory, and some very strong cocktails.
Norma’s at The Parker
The Parker is one of the most beautiful places I have ever stepped foot in, and on top of that I had the most delicious french toast here, and it was honestly as thick as a ream of paper, no lie!
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
Super hipster, and super delicous, offering farm to table yumminess, tucked away in a cute little courtyard.
Koffi
There are a couple of these coffee shops dotted around the city, their muffins and iced coffees were amazing.
Great Shakes
Does what it says on the tin. I had the white chocolate cherry, and it was ridiculous in the best possible way!
Trio
Kind of like Lulu’s but on a slightly smaller scale. Their tagline is “Where Palm Springs eats” and that was good enough for me.
Ice Cream and Shop(pe)
Offering unique and delicious ice cream options with some cute gifts to shop at the same time. I had the pomegranate chip and it was beyond good.
Kings Highway at Ace
Cool vibes and a great menu full of food you want to eat. Their BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avacado, tomato) was absolutely scrummy!

* I’d read so many great reviews about Cheeky’s but sadly it was closed for August so I didn’t get to try it this time.

Do:
For such a tiny city I was really pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do in Palm Springs. Don’t get me wrong I was more than content to lie by the pool all day in the blistering sun, but also had the urge to go and do a bit of exploring. Looking back I feel like I had a nice balance of exploring and relaxing.
Aerial Tramway
The aerial tramway takes you all the way to the top of San Jacinto Peak. What makes this different from other gondolas and tramways is that this one rotates 360 degrees on the way up providing stunning views of the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains. Once at the top there are stunning views to take in, as well as some hikes and all the classic National Parks information and learning centre.
Cabazon Dinosaurs
This place is so random and so completely unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The concept is really simple; humongous dinosaur statues by the side of the road. We didn’t bother to pay and go in, but just had a quick look around and took a few photo’s. It’s only about a 20minute drive from Palm Springs and I’d definitely recommend it as something quirky to check out.
Salvation Mountain
It’s a bit of a drive (about 90 minutes each way) but in my opinion, so utterly and completely worth it, plus you get to drive past the Salton Sea which is kind of cool. This place is magical and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I first saw Salvation Mountain in the movie Into The Wild and it’s periodically popped up over and over again throughout the years, I’ve had a hankering to go there ever since. I don’t think I could ever do justice to how special this place is, so I will just say that if you ever get a chance to go there, please do so.
Moorten Botanical Garden
I stumbled across this place whilst doing some Pintrest research before leaving, and it actually ended up being one of my favourite things from the whole trip. It is so unique and being able to look at the hundreds of different types of cacti all in one place is really cool. Plus this place is home of the worlds first ‘cactarium’ which is a beautiful greenhouse filled with cacti bathing in muted light!
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center
We stopped by here on out last morning in Palm Springs, because the bigger Palm Springs Art Museum wasn’t open yet and this place was, plus it was en route to the airport. There is free admission and it’s small enough that you can make your way around in around 30-45 minutes without rushing. This faction of the museum features temporary exhibits, and had some cool mid-century furniture on display whilst we were visiting.

I had such a great time in Palm Springs, and I know my mum did too. Palm Springs is such a bewitching place and is most definitely on the laid back side of things. There was a huge choice of great places to eat, and plenty of things to see and do that were all a bit different to things that you normally find to do when on vacation. To me Palm Springs is the kind of place where you can completely tailor your trip to suit your interests, which is kind of the perfect destination.

Leah Explores … Harrison Hot Springs

Every year myself and two of my best friends go away for the weekend. It can be a bit challenging as we all work together so there is always a bit of human Tetris involved for us to all get the weekend off but we always manage (well done Laura!) This year we decided that we wouldn’t go anywhere too far away and wanted to stay in Canada, because of the US exchange rate right now. We settled on Harrison Hot Springs, a tiny lakeside town about 90 minutes outside of Vancouver. We’ve all been before, but not for a while which made it fun to rediscover this little gem of a place.

Stay
As I’ve already said Harrison is tiny, there are some small hotels and campsites around, however, most people, ourselves included, opt to stay at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. This place reminds me of Kellermans from Dirty Dancing; everything is there and there are definitely some people who do not leave the resort. And to be fair, you don’t really need to. It has a spa, pools, bar, restaurant, shops and a coffee shop. There were some nice touches too, for example they had free afternoon tea out by the pools one day during our time there. Our stay was really enjoyable and I would definitely stay there again.

Do
Harrison is definitely a place for both relaxing and for being active, it’s such a small place that you will inevitably end up doing both. As the name suggests the town is home to some Hot Springs which definitely lend themselves to the relaxing aspect of the trip. On the other hand there are loads of trails around the area as well as abundant water sport options, and a ridiculously fun looking inflatable Total Wipeout style obstacle course out on the lake. Our stay coincided with the annual ‘Sasquatch Days’ which included war canoe races, activities and entertainment, and takes place every June.
We did the easiest hikes called the Miami Bridges trail which is a very leisurely (and flat) 0.5km meander through some trees, past some water and back to the hotel car park. Of course, when in Harrison you have to search out and take a picture with Bigfoot, see below. We also sat by the pool, enjoyed some cocktails and walked from one end of the town to the other, which takes about 10 minutes. It’s also worth taking the short stroll down to the source of the Hot Springs which is located a little way down from the hotel.

Harrison Hot Springs is so close to Vancouver that it makes it a perfect place for either a weekend getaway or even for a day trip. Like I said there isn’t a lot to do but that is the beauty of visiting Harrison. In all honesty we didn’t really push ourselves to do too much exploring, and that was kind of the whole purpose of the trip to relax and escape from the city for a few days. The hotel is so big that for the short time we were there we didn’t feel the need to venture into town for any food or drink. All in all I really enjoyed my few days there and will be back in the future for more relaxing and hiding away from reality, and maybe some more energetic hiking.

More information about things to do and places to stay in Harrison Hot Springs can be found on the Tourism Harrison website. Happy exploring!

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Leah Explores … Galiano Island

I’m the first to admit that I have not made the most of living in British Columbia or Canada for that fact, and have hardly seen any of this stunning country. Every year I make a promise to myself that I am going to do something about it, but the truth is, it’s pretty expensive to travel within Canada, especially if you want to go from one side of this massive country to the other. Therefore, I  have yet to really explore Canada. I finally made it to Galiano Island this past week whilst my mum is here visiting, and I can’t believe I haven’t been there sooner, especially considering how close it is to Vancouver.

Stay and Eat:
We stayed at the Oceanfront Inn and Spa, which is very conveniently located about a minutes walk from the ferry terminal. There aren’t too many hotels to choose from on the tiny island, but there are B&B’s and rental cabins all up for grabs too. The hotel itself is small and beautiful. Our room had an oceanfront patio, and was both spacious and comfortable,  as well as that our room had the BEST bathtub I have ever been in in my entire life!

We stayed pretty local with our eating (partly because we’re lazy, and partly because the island is so small) and had a delicious dinner at the Attevida restaurant which is part of the hotel, and offers stunning views of the water. We also tried the Sturdies Bay Bakery, located a two minute walk from the hotel, for a coffee and croissant for breakfast the next day, and then went back to the hotel and had some of their fire roasted pizza for lunch that was absolutely scrumptious. Finally, because it was lovely and hot it seemed like the best excuse to indulge in an ice cream at Scoops.

Things to do:
Galiano Island is tiny (27.5 km’s or 17miles) so most things to do there are either nature related – hiking, kayaking etc. – or based upon relaxation. We definitely leaned towards the relaxation side of things. Our hotel had a spa attached which we didn’t take advantage of this time (but would definitely do on a return visit) and this is definitely one of the main draws. I’m not going to lie, both of us are easy to please and were excited to have a look around and just relax.

Luckily for us, our hotel also offered Smart Cars for hire, which we took advantage off and set out to explore the island from one end to the other. There are some points of interest on the island, which include Montague Harbour as well as Bellhouse Provincial Park, Bluff’s Peak and Bodega Ridge. You can also pass right through the 49th parallel which is kinda cool. I definitely recommend embracing the adventure and “getting lost” because honestly, the island is so small you can’t really go wrong. We stumbled upon a lovely little secluded oceanfront area that was just a short walk along a flat trail.

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Beautiful Galiano oceanfront views

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Montague Harbour

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Bellhouse Provincial Park
Getting there:
As I already said getting to the Oceanfront Inn and Spa is beyond easy. Getting to Galiano Island is equally easy too. BC Ferries run a route to and from Tsawwassen daily, and depending on what time of year you visit there are more or less departures, the route takes about an hour. Galiano is tiny, and I don’t think a car is necessarily an essential, depending on where you’re going on the island and what you want to do. Taking a bike might be a better option, especially when you take into consideration how much the ferry costs jump up for taking a car. Walking and hitch hiking are pretty common on the island, so don’t be surprised if you see someone with their thumb in the air at the side of the road.

Galiano Island was absolutely beautiful and I honestly cannot believe I haven’t been there in the five and a half years I have been living in Vancouver, especially considering how close it is. I would definitely like to go back and do some more exploring, and maybe even some hiking. Because of it’s proximity to the mainland it is a great option for a weekend break as well as a day trip. It is is the sort of place where there is a stunning view around every corner, and a great place to relax and unwind. Happy exploring!

 

Leah Explores … Carmel

Carmel-by-the-sea is a small beach city in California, but what sets it apart from every other beach city in California (and lets face it, there are a lot) is that this place looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The buildings are quaint and distinct, and there is a small town feel this idyllic beach city, I’ve looked at pictures and read all about it, but actually seeing it for myself was a whole other experience.. This place is both stunning and surreal. Post whale watching in Monterey my cousin and I drove 10 minutes south to Carmel-by-the-sea, for a stroll around the town, some lunch and some beach time. This tiny beach town is the perfect spot to visit for the afternoon as it’s small enough to navigate in just a few hours. That said, I think it would be absolutely amazing to go there for a mini break and just completely relax.

There are some super cute independent shops to look in as well as some more well known brands dotted throughout the main strip of town. I definitely recommend looking in Carmel Bay Company for some super cute gifts. There were so many places to eat at we felt a bit spoiled for choice, we settled on PortaBella restaurant which offered Mediterranean inspired cuisine, and had a delicious Croque Monsieur; a perfect spot for refuelling. Before we left we grabbed some yummy coffee from Carmel Coffee House. The Carmel Bakery looked full of deliciousness but I was so full after lunch I didn’t need any temptation. Whilst the town itself if cute, for me the beach was really the highlight. White sandy dunes lead into the Pacific Ocean and the views are just incredible. The weather wasn’t even that great whilst we were there but this place still took my breath away.

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I definitely suggest taking a trip to Carmel if you are in the area, just to see the beautiful city for yourself. As I’ve already said it’s a small place and there isn’t a ton to see and do, it has a more laid back pace to it, but that definitely works to it’s advantage. Have you been there? What’s your favourite thing to do? Favourite place to see? Let me kn0w in the comments. Happy exploring!

Leah Explores … Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch, was one of those places that unexpectedly took my breath away and will forever be one of the most beautiful places I accidentally stumbled upon. I actually can’t take any credit for discovering this stunning place, it’s all down to the friend of my cousin who recommended it as a great day out. We decided to take a risk and packed up a picnic, some supplies and the wagon to put the children in when they got fed up of walking, and set off for an adventure.

Located just north of Santa Cruz, Wilder Ranch State Park occupies 7000 acres of coastal ranch land. Formerly a working dairy ranch, there are still signs of the lands former purpose, as the farmhouse and  a lot of the old buildings have been restored as museums. But, in all honesty, if you are going to Wilder Ranch it’s all about the hiking, and surrounding yourself in the natural beauty of the area.

There are ample trails located around the park, which are (for the most part) flat and easily accessible by foot, bike and even horse. The trails hug the cliffs offering unspoiled views of the Pacific Ocean. We did a 2.5mile round hike that took us to ‘Fern Grotto’ a secluded cove, complete with caves and a beautiful sandy beach. For the few hours we were there only two other people came down, and (luckily for us) they only stayed for a few minutes. Definitely make sure that you pack for all situations on your trip. This place is pretty isolated and there are no gift shops around to grab some water or any other essentials you may need. Anyway, enough of my ramblings, because I could honestly go on about how awesome Wilder Ranch State Park is all day, but instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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Leah Explores … The Monterey Canyon

After my stint in San Francisco I headed inland for a bit of a family catch up to see my cousin and her family, as well as to do a bit more exploring, in some lesser know places. My first stop along the way was to go whale watching in Monterey.

We went out with Monterey Bay Whale Watch on a trip which lasted around 4 hours. Fun fact, these were the group who took out Big Blue Live last year. The great thing about these guys is that they are marine biologists so they actually know what they are talking about, and what to look out for. The boat was pretty big, it held about 120 people, but they have a speaker system so that you don’t miss any of the information they give you, which can include sightings, species and geographical information. This is particularly helpful when they can tell you that a whale has been spotted, cue me speed walking to the front of the boat.

The crew on the boat were really helpful, walking around making sure that everyone was alright throughout the trip. A special shout out to my cousin who powered through the freezing temperatures with horrible seasickness, she was the real MVP! I would definitely recommend layering up, I had one four layers, and could have honestly done with four more, it was freezing out there. Also take some sea sickness tablets, it’s better safe than sorry. My cousin took them and was still really sick, so I dread to think what she would have been like if she didn’t.

The trip took us out over the Monterey Canyon which is a submarine canyon big enough to rival the Grand Canyon, therefore making it abundant in marine life. We were really lucky on out trip, we saw a Sealions, Dolphins, Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish), Humpbacks, Orca’s and most spectacularly of all a Blue Whale. Sadly I was stood on the wrong side of the boat when the Humpbacks surfaced, and there was no breaching by any of the whales (of course with my luck there was later in the day) but it was still an amazing day. Being able to say that I have seen a Blue Whale is something that I never even dreamed off, and is definitely something I will treasure forever. Here are some of my photo’s from the trip. Enjoy!

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Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish)
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Dolphins
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Blue Whale hump (the tiny black hump)
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Orca’s
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Orca’s

 

 

Leah Explores … San Francisco 

I have been wanting to go to San Francisco for so long, and I finally made it happen! Luckily it more than exceeded my expectations, and all the hype my friends had had was not misplaced. I had two and a half days in the city, and although I covered a lot I feel like I hardy scratched the surface, which in my opinion is the perfect excuse to go Hotel Mark Twainback and explore more in the future.

Stay:
I stayed at the Hotel Mark Twain which was conveniently located just a few blocks away from Union Square. It was pretty reasonably priced (for San Francisco) given the location. It even had a secret garden tucked away out the back that was the perfect place to sit and sip a coffee and hideaway from the city for a little while. The staff were also helpful, when it came to advice on directions and places to avoid, and there was a helpful guide book in the room that listed some local restaurants and bars. I would definitely stay here again, the bed was comfy, the place was clean, there were some quirky touches and like I already said the location was pretty great.

Getting Around:
San Francisco was a surprisingly easy city to navigate, and the public transport was pretty easy to master. I did a lot of walking whilst in the city, mainly because it is my favourite way to explore a new city and stumble across something unexpected. I used the BART to get from the airport to the city, which cost $8.95 and was painless. I also took the MUNI  a couple of times, which is $2.25 for a 90 minute transfer. Leaving San Francisco to head to San Jose I used the Caltrain, which was painless, and cost $12.95, the journey took just under two hours and was a great way to head into the Silicon Valley area without hiring a car. Of course the most fun way to get around is on a cable car, it was $7 for a single ride which was all I needed to do. However, it is worth bearing in mind that for $20 you can get a day pass and ride as much as you like.

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The most fun way to get around.

Things to do:
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco, I feel like what I saw was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll admit I went into full tourist mode, in an effort to see as much as I could in the little time I had. In my two and a half days in the city I managed to see Alcatraz, Union Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Coit Tower, Ghiradelli Square, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Lombard Street, Chinatown, the Ferry Building, Twin Peaks and to squeeze in a ride on the infamous cable cars. I also did a Vantigo Tour which was a great way to see the city in a more authentic way than some of the bigger tour buses, and the tour guides were insightful and hilarious. The tour also took me to some of the places that were on my list but I knew would be a bit tricky to get to, which was super convenient.
My highlights were definitely seeing the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, the views from Twin Peaks, riding the cable cars, and of course seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person.

To say I loved San Francisco would be a huge understatement. I ran out of time to do all the hundreds of things that I wanted to do, but I am definitely looking forward to going back in the future, exploring some of the neighbourhoods in more depth, and ticking more things off my San Francisco bucket list.

Leah Explores … Ojai

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of a “treat yo’self” moment and decided that I wanted to escape for a few days. After a bit of browsing and comparing, I decided that flying into LA was my cheapest option (even with the Canadian Dollar being so low) so from there it was just a case of deciding where to go. I settled on Ojai (pronounced “oh hi”) partly because I’d never been there before and partly because I wanted to go somewhere a bit different.
Here is my guide to beautiful Ojai.

Stay:
I stayed in the Ojai Rancho Inn, and I really loved it. It was a little bit pricier than I initially wanted but it had great reviews, had a pool, free bike rentals and was pretty close to the Downtown area. I’d done some research before leaving but the staff at reception offered me a sheet with a list of local favourite restaurants and shops which was really helpful. There was free coffee in the morning, which is always a positive (I am not a morning person!) Another added bonus was that they had a small bar which played vinyl and served local wine and beer – win!

Eat:
I did not have one bad meal whilst I was in Ojai, everything was scrumptious! I’d done a bit of research online before getting there, and combined with the list the hotel provided I was able to get a taste of Ojai. Here are the places I ate whilst there.
The Farmer and the Cook
Looking for something delicious, healthy and laid back then this is the place for you. Half market, half cafe/restaurant, they serve yummy vegetarian food. I had the Goat Cheese and Veggie Taco’s and they were divine!
Knead Baking Company
If there is one thing I love in life it’s carbs, so finding a yummy bakery is a no brainer. Knead definitely delivered with their Nutella filled Croissant. Honestly, everything on their menu looked and sounded delicious. Plus there was a lovely little courtyard to relax in.
Hip Vegan
This place does what it says on the tin. Tucked away down an alley, this place is pretty low key, and was filled with locals. They have a huge menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, salad and rice bowls. I had the Echo Beach Bowl which I would recommend without hesitation it was so good!
Ojai Ice Cream
Sometimes you are just wandering along and fate steps in and presents you with an ice cream shop. I tried their White Chocolate Gelato, but it was tough to narrow it down to just one flavour from all the choice they had.
Deer Lodge
A bit further out of town but definitely worth the drive, this place has a great beer selection and offers farm to table menu. I opted for the Mac and Cheese which was part of their small plates options. It was indeed small, but delicious. I had an early meal and the place was really relaxed but it sounds like it can get pretty crazy later in the evening as they often host live music events.

Shop:
For such a tiny city, I was really pleasantly surprised by how many unique stores Ojai had to offer. Here are my top three picks, all of which I had read about before I left, and were on the hotel list, and I was definitely not disappointed.
Fig Curated Living
Full of the cutest gifts you ever did see, this place is a treasure trove that took me two (okay, fine three) loops around before I made my final decisions on what to treat myself to. They have some cool handmade stuff that is locally made. A must if you are looking for something unique.
Bart’s Books
I love books!!!! So any chance I get to go and explore a book store is more than fine by me. Especially when it is as AMAZING as Bart’s Books. This bookstore is outside, with sails providing shade from the sun. I spent well over an hour just browsing before the arduous task of deciding what I wanted to get started, this basically involved another loop around the place.
Summer Camp
This place was right out of my little hipster dreams. It was beautiful. It was full of dreamy products. Everything in there was beyond unique. I could have spent so much money. I has a constant mantra in my head that I was on a budget and only had hand luggage, but boy if the tables were turned I could have done some serious damage. Definitely a place to check out and grab a one of a kind items.

Do:
I didn’t go away expecting to fill every minute with activities, in fact, I was quite looking forward to a bit of downtime and a change of scenery. Ojai is definitely one of the more laid back places I have been, which was exactly what I was looking for. There are lots of local hikes, and some tours are available of the Olive Oil Ranch and some of the vineyards, but on the whole there isn’t a ton to do. I had wanted to hire a bike (the hotel had free rentals) as there is a 9 mile trail running between Ojai and Ventura. However, it was overcast and a bit chilly and I hadn’t packed the most practical clothing, so I opted to give it a miss this time. I didn’t do too much but I enjoyed what I did do.
Ojai Valley Museum
The Ojai Valley Museum is small, meaning you can make it around in 15-30 minutes, but it is full of information about the history of this small city.Entrance was $5 and whilst I was there they had a cool art exhibit featuring local Ojai Valley artists.
Go for a drive
The Ojai Valley is beautiful and I highly recommend that you go for a drive around to see all the natural beauty. On my way back to the airport I drove over to Ventura as I had been told that there was a part of the 101 where you can do a coastal drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. It was totally worth the detour as the views were stunning (even if it was a bit overcast) and there were so many places to stop and admire the Pacific Ocean.

Getting there/Getting around:
It’s about a two hour drive form LAX, however if you’re flying into Santa Barbara Airport it’s only about an hour away. Getting around with a car was nice and easy and there was a lot of free parking around which is always great. I would say having a car is definitely the easiest option when it comes to exploring. Hiring a bike would also be a pretty fun way to see the city. I did notice that there is the Ojai Trolley too which seems like a good way to do some sightseeing, the only downside is that you are then on someone else’s schedule and route.

I would definitely recommend Ojai for a great weekend escape. The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and the scenery was stunning. Happy exploring!