GETTING THERE: Ojai is about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, via U.S. Route 101 and Highway 33. An alternate, more picturesque route is via the east, by taking the I-5 freeway to Highway 126 west near Valencia, then following Route 150 north to Ojai.

WHEN TO GO: Ojai weather is pleasant much of the year, with daytime highs averaging 70. Winter brings occasional heavy rainstorms, and summer temperatures can reach the triple digits.

WHERE TO STAY: The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (905 Country Club Rd., 805-646-5511, has 305 rooms, a 31,000-square-foot spa and an 18-hole golf course. It is the town's most expensive and luxurious resort, with rates from $400 a night double. Spa services include a seasonal pumpkin and melon body scrub and an elderberry and ginger detoxification wrap. Day and overnight spa packages are available.

For a better value, the Blue Iguana (11794 N. Ventura Ave./Hwy. 33, 805-646-5277, is a popular 12-room inn on the edge of town with a pool and Jacuzzi. Rates start at $139 double for a one-bedroom suite with full kitchen. The Lavender Inn (210 E. Matilija St., 805-646-6635, is a B&B with seven antiques-filled rooms, some with shared bath, and a trellised veranda and garden, where wine and cheese are served in the afternoons. Double rooms start at $130.

WHERE TO EAT: Azu (457 E. Ojai Ave., 626-640-7987) serves imaginative tapas, salads and house-made gelato. Tapas and salads are $7 to $12, entrees $17 to $22. The upscale Suzanne's Cuisine (502 W. Ojai Ave., 805-640-1961) is known for its mix of French, Italian and California dishes. Dinner entrees include bouillabaisse, smoked and roasted quail, and truffle-cream fettuccine. Lunch dishes from $8; dinner prices range from $15 to $32.

Ruben's Burritos (104 N. Signal St., 805-646- 6111) has the best burritos in town. Lunch for two is about $12.

WHAT TO DO: The Los Padres National Forest has dozens of good hiking trails; the Rose Valley Falls trail, 15 miles north of town via Highway 33, is one of the most popular. Details: Ojai Ranger District, 805-646- 4348,

Spend an hour or two browsing under the courtyard oaks of Bart's Books (302 W. Matilija St.), an Ojai original that stocks thousands of used books, from hard-to-find first editions to faded Agatha Christie paperbacks. The travel and occult sections are especially good.

The small Ojai Valley Museum (130 W. Ojai Ave., 805-640-1390,; $3) is a good introduction to the history of the region, with displays on the Chumash Indians (the area's earliest residents), paintings by local artists and rotating exhibits.

Galleries abound in this artists' colony, with many of them on or around Ojai Avenue. A couple of standouts: HumanArts Gallery (310 E. Ojai Ave), a chic little shop selling jewelry, ceramics and whimsical sculptures; and Nancy Rupp Studio (305-G E. Matilija St.), which specializes in Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy.

INFORMATION: Ojai Chamber of Commerce, 805-646-8126, Visit Ojai, 888-233-8803,

-- Laura Randall