Ojai California: 7 Reasons to Stay and Play

by Nancy Mueller
( October 31st, 2014 )

Why do I love Ojai California? And when should you plan your own SoCal getaway, for a day, a weekend or longer retreat?  Whenever you’re in the mood for:

1) Creative Inspiration

Let’s face it. Sunshine and balmy breezes soothe the creative soul,

Ojai Palm Tree

as does the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape,

Ojai Valley Museum

 and leisurely strolls through art museums and galleries, like the Ojai Valley Museum . . .

Ojai Valley Museum Sculpture

  or the collection at The Oaks at Ojai . . .

The Oaks at Ojai Oneness Sculpture

The Oaks at Ojai Sculptures

2) Culinary Pleasures

Ojai serves up tantalizing tastes in food and wine from locally grown organic ingredients. Visit the Sunday Certified Farmers’ Market to mingle with the locals. Pick up your favorite produce, flowers or small gifts to bring home.

Stop by the Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room in downtown Ojai to enjoy a flight of organic wines. Hint: For your wine tasting experience, take three full sips of each to get the wine’s full flavor.

For fine dining, check out Suzanne’s Cuisine for French-Italian food fare among several other restaurants serving fresh, local cuisine.

The Oaks at Ojai Salad

3) Parks & Recreation

Parks abound in Ojai and rumor has it that Ojai resident rocker Eric Burton (“House of the Rising Sun,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”) celebrated his birthday with a performance at Libbey Bowl inside Libbey Park just before my arrival.

Ojai Park

Outside of the parks, go biking or hiking along the Ojai Valley Trail for fitness fun.

4) Bart’s Books

Here’s a place to wile away the day, browsing the bookshelves, finding old favorites, discovering new treasures. I didn’t find a hammock, but no matter. The outdoor courtyard was delightful nonetheless.

Bart's Books of Ojai Bart's Books of Ojai CA

5) Boutique Shopping

With so many artists in residence, it’s easy to find unique jewelry, small gift items, house decor and fashions for everyone on your list.

Ojai CA Shopping

6) Rest & Relaxation

Unplug and unwind poolside for total rest and relaxation.

The Oaks at Ojai Pool View

7) Friendly Ojai Residents

Still searching for more information on Ojai? Friendly Ojai residents like 94-year-old Lerie Bjornstedt at the Chamber of Commerce are standing by to help and offer sage advice. After sharing travel tales (her favorites included Alaska and New Zealand), I asked the secret to her longevity. She replied without hesitation: “Optimism!”

Ojai Chamber of Commerce

Wander on!


Love Heals Ojai Shop Sign

Thanks to my host for the chance to stay and play for the day in Ojai California!

What’s your favorite way to stay and play in Ojai, wanderboomers?

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The Oaks at Ojai: Southern California Oasis

by Nancy Mueller
( October 17th, 2014 )

Santa Barbara Airport

Oh my, Ojai. Seeking new adventures and respite from my crazy-busy schedule, I headed to sunny southern California for a quick escape last May. A good friend had recommended The Oaks at Ojai as the perfect getaway sanctuary for rest, relaxation and exploration.

Santa Barbara

After a connecting flight in San Francisco, I arrived at the Santa Barbara Airport for my reserved shuttle to Ojai. Any trip that begins with sunny blue skies, warm breezes, palm trees and a welcoming driver is off to a promising start. Meandering the backroads to our destination showcased the stunning local landscape against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountain range.

The Oaks at Ojai

Upon arrival, just a brief glance and walk around the premises convinced me that I’d be very happy here for the next few days.

The Oaks at Ojai Entry

From the spa resort entry, to my own private courtyard . . .

The Oaks at Ojai Courtyard

that opened to my quiet haven . . .

The Oaks at Ojai Accommodations

After reviewing the wide range of activities offered during my stay, I opted to start off the next day with the 7:30AM morning stroll. An early riser, I’m used to starting my day anytime between 4:30AM and 5:30AM so I saw no need to set my alarm the night before. Oops. I woke up at 7:45AM. Happily off the hook for my walk, I chose to lounge a little longer in my cocoon before heading off to breakfast.

The Oaks at Ojai Swimming Pool

After my unintended sleep-in, I could easily see why so many guests of The Oaks at Ojai are repeat visitors. Such peaceful, unpretentious surroundings create a mindful approach to self-care. Whether you want to unplug, relax and recharge, shed stress and soak up the sun, or boost fitness through rigorous activity, the destination resort offers total comfort and support.

The Oaks at Ojai Salad

Owner Sheila Cluff founded The Oaks at Ojai to inspire guests on a path of healthful living based on her own successful career in figure skating, motivational speaking and entrepreneurship. Her mantra is “Keep moving” because “What’s the point of becoming successful and retired if you’re not fit to enjoy it?” Cluff says. Still, “Chronologically enriched guests only have to go as fast as your slowest part here.”

As a fitness expert and trailblazer in the spa industry, Cluff advocates a holistic approach to health and well-being as evidenced by the quality of programming on site.

The Oaks at Ojai Fitness Equipment

Activities range from gentle morning stretches, yoga and aqua classes to cardio, Pilates, hiking and dance. Life classes cover fun topics like handwriting analysis or thought-provoking discussions of personal journeys, reinvention and nutrition.

Wondering how you, too, can enjoy a wellness week/weekend at The Oaks at Ojai? Check out the Calendar of Events to explore the options for planning your own solo adventure, mom/daughter, girlfriend or his and her getaway.

Wander on!


Some, though not all, of my costs were covered by my host.

What’s most appealing about a stay at The Oaks for you, wanderboomers?





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Wander the Whidbey (Washington) Art Trail

by Nancy Mueller
( September 22nd, 2014 )

With more than 300 artists living and making their art on Whidbey Island, how could I pass up the chance to share a few more photos from my driving tour along the Whidbey Art Trail?

Whidbey Island

 From flameware . . .

Artists Megan Bray and Mike Wise

to jewelry and painting . . .

Anne Niles Davenport Artist

weaving . . .

Robert Adamson Island Art Glass Artist

and glass art . . .

the Whidbey Art Trail offers an abundance of creative possibilities.

Ready for your own art excursion? Here a few tips to make the most of your visit:

* Although the tour is open year-round, it pays to call ahead if you want to meet particular resident artists at play in their creative space.

* Check out artists’ profiles and print out a trail map to plan your visit or pick one up on the Washington State Ferries’ Clinton/Mukilteo and Coupeville/Pt. Townsend routes.

* Feel free to ask the artists about their creative process, how they got their start, etc. You can even ask to try your own hand at an art-making technique.

* Take a break from the trail with a stop at Spoiled Dog Winery or Whidbey Island Distillery. End your day with Happy Hour and a bite to eat at Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor or Coupeville’s Captain Whidbey’s Inn.

* Want to make this a weekend or weekday getaway? Whidbey Camano Islands offers a variety of lodging suggestions to meet your needs.

For more fun with wine, spirits and art, visit November 8 & 9 for Autumn on Whidbey.

Wander on!


*Many thanks to the artists along the Whidbey Art Trail and our Whidbey Island hosts for my arts & culture fix!

How do you express your inner artist, wanderboomers?

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