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A Magical, Mystical Tour through Ojai W

By Mimi Slawoff

hile browsing through Ojai’s art galleries and shops filled with local artisan’s works, I had to wonder if Ojai has somehow tapped into

the fountain of youth. Or, at the very least, it seems to embody a spiritual essence that enhances the lives of its residents – and visitors - in many ways.

If you take the time to engage locals in conversation, you begin to hear a recurring theme. Many moved here from big cities, yet connected immediately with Ojai’s small town charm. There’s a mystical presence, they say, that fuels creativity and soothes the soul. They point out that Ojai has an east-west facing mountain range, making it one of few towns on the planet to have a “pink moment” as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight creates a shade of pink on the Topatopa Mountains.

With such natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Ojai represented Shangri-La in the 1939 film, “Lost Horizon.” It’s almost surprising that Ojai has remained a small town, with a population of about 8,150.

Located 15 miles inland from Ventura (and about an hour’s drive from Santa Clarita), Ojai is an easy day

trip. But do yourself a favor and spend a night or two to soak up Ojai’s unique culture.

Home to an eclectic mix of artists, farmers and small business owners, you won’t see cookie cutter establishments here. Not even a Starbucks! Instead, you’ll find locally-owned restaurants, markets and boutique inns. Local farmers provide home grown goods to restaurants and markets, and local art frames the town.

Intimate inns are sprinkled throughout town. For our three-day visit, a small group of friends and I stayed at the Emerald Inn (, almost hidden at the end of a quiet residential street. Inside my spacious room under a canopy of trees, I felt like I had stepped into a fairytale. Double doors opened to a private patio and a tiled mosaic emerald iguana fountain trickled nearby. Each room and cottage is outfitted with local art and furniture gleaned from around the world. A complimentary continental breakfast is served poolside, where more art adorns the garden.

A tiled mosaic emerald iguana fountain is among many artistic touches at the tranquil Emerald Iguana Inn. The inn’s location at the end of a residential street makes it an ideal hideaway.

The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts houses the famed potter’s works as well as those of other acclaimed and emerging artists.

30 Santa Clarita Living Magazine December 2011 Newhall - Valencia continued on page 32

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