Say ‘Hi!’ to Ojai

April is Pixie month—as in Pixie tangerines—in this funky Southern California town

Idaho has its potatoes, Georgia has its Vidalia onions and Ojai, California, has its Pixies. Yes, the Pixie, a tangerine created in 1927 and known for its exceptional sweetness. In fact, so famed is the Ojai Pixie that its namesake town, set in the Topatopa Mountains northwest of Los Angeles, dedicates all of April to celebrating the seedless fruit.

With the 2017 harvest the biggest in history (more than 6 million pounds), it’s a great time to enjoy all the Pixie-ish festivities in this artsy, picturesque town (which you might recognize from the movie “Easy A”), famous for its pink sunsets, walkability and laidback lifestyle. From farm visits to spa specials, here’s how to enjoy Ojai in the spring.


Hit the links at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Courtesy Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Ojai is home to five boutique inns—most a close walk to East Ojai Avenue, downtown’s main street—that offer specials for Ojai Pixie Month. We stayed at Su Nido (“your nest” in Spanish), a Mission Revival inn with one- and two-bedroom suites that feature fireplaces, patios or balconies and enclosed cobblestone courtyards. You also can treat yourself to a quaint cottage at The Emerald Iguana Inn, designed by award-winning architect Marc Whitman and furnished by Julia Whitman, both Ojai locals, and famous for the “Emerald Iguana” broken-tile mosaic fountain; “old world ambiance” and local artwork at its sister property, The Blue Iguana Inn; or The Lavender Inn, a historic B&B downtown. Use the code PIXIE to save 25 percent when booking a stay at Su Nido Sunday through Thursday and 15 percent for Friday and Saturday; and ask for the Ojai Pixie Pamper Me Package at either of the iguana inns for a $269 room rate, goodie basket, two in-room massages and a $50 restaurant voucher.

Friend’s Ranch, a family business that’s been growing citrus since 1891, offers family-led tours that provide a history of the fruit and then a walk through an orchard where you can pick your own. Or get a bird’s-eye view of all the city’s orchards with a Cloud Climber open-air Jeep tour, including a stop at Ojai Olive Oil, where you can sample local olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Friend’s Ranch tours are $12 for adults, $7 for children and free for kids 3 and younger. Pick your own fruit for $2 per pound. Cloud Climber Jeep tours are $350 for six seats. Call 805.646.3200 for reservations.

What fare goes best with a Pixie? In Ojai, the answer is everything. For the entire month, local eateries feature a special Pixie dish. This year’s menu includes options such as a Pixie margarita and Pixie drop martini at Azu Restaurant and Bar, citrus syrup cake at Knead Baking Company, a Pixie cosmo at Suzanne’s Cuisine and Pixie tangerine frozen yogurt at Bliss Frozen Yogurt. Hungry yet?

Ojai is home to Bart’s Books, the largest outdoor, independently owned bookstore in the United States. Opt for one of the 35-cent books on the outside wall—you’re on the honor system for payment—or head “inside” and scour the nearly 1 million-book collection for historical pages and new reads. Tables with umbrellas, lounging nooks and cozy reading chairs included.

The Ojai Art Center is the oldest multi-purpose, nonprofit art center in California, and for the month of April will be readying local artwork to auction at a steal at its “Great Art Theft” reception, where local artists donate pieces to be sold at a deep discount on April 30 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Ojai Valley and Conservancy manages and maintains close to 2,000 acres of open space in Ojai, featuring dozens of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. The easy 1.5-mile hike up Shelf Road ends with great views of the Ojai Valley.


Relax in the Indigo pool at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Courtesy Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

At Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, which offers fitness classes, an aromatherapy apothecary, art classes, a full spa and four luxury pools, stop in for a Tangerine Body Polish, a 50-minute treatment that starts with a full-body exfoliation to buff away skin impurities and stimulate circulation, and ends with a hydrating body butter massage. The spa also offers an overnight Ojai Pixie Package, which includes a 50-minute Pixie body treatment, breakfast for two at The Oak, the inn’s restaurant and two Pixie cocktails at the Wallace Neff Heritage Bar. Use the code PIXIE to book the overnight package.

GET PIXIES ONLINE from Friend’s Ranch, Churchill Orchard or Melissa’s.

LAVENDER: Here, this crop blooms just one month out of the year, in June and/or July. Pick your own at Frog Creek Farm.
WINE: There are at least seven commercial wineries in Ojai. A tasting at The Ojai Vineyard, a winery more than three decades old with 300-plus wines on the menu, is a local favorite.
BEER: Ojai Valley Brewery, the town’s first, started releasing beer in late January of this year on tap at Azu Restaurant and Bar, its “sister business.”

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