Ojai, California

Best Places to Retire in California


Ojai (population 7,850) is nestled in an idyllic setting in the Ojai Valley, a 90-minute drive north from Los Angeles. The valley, which runs east and west, is 10 miles long and three miles wide. It is said to resemble the look and climate of the south of France. The view from the top of Dennison Grade is so extraordinary that it was portrayed as Shangri-La in the legendary movie “Lost Horizons.” The landscape has magnificent coast live oaks, valley oaks, sycamores, and lush groves of citrus, olive, and avocados. This natural beauty, the valley’s magnificent climate, and the many mineral hot springs in the area gave Ojai the reputation as a place to restore and rejuvenate health. That notion persists today and those seeking a connection with the spiritual life find kindred spirits in Ojai. It is home to a variety of New Age and religious groups. http://ci.ojai.ca.us/ Ojai is considered among the “best small towns” in Southern California. It takes its name from the Indian word A’hwai, meaning “nest” or “moon,” and has long been regarded as a special place. The Ojai Valley also encompasses the unincorporated towns of Casitas Springs, Oak View, Mira Monte, and Meiners Oaks.

Ojai is a culturally rich city with busy arts organizations, music, theater, dance, art exhibits, festivals, and craft fairs year-round. It is home to hundreds of talented artists (writers, photographers, painters, musicians, composers, sculptors, potters, weavers, jewelry makers, actors), plus activists and entrepreneurs.

The city has more than a dozen galleries and numerous chic boutiques and antique shops. In the evening there are restaurants, bookstores, and coffeehouses, with live entertainment. The city has more than 20 dining options, including American, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, or French. You can choose take out, casual indoor or outdoor dining, or upscale dining.

The city of Ojai is the smallest and slowest growing city in Ventura County. It is committed to preserving its small town character and strictly limits new commercial and residential development. It is also one of the most environmentally aware communities and is working to reduce reliance on the automobile. The city has two “park and ride” facilities and the Ojai Trolley traverses the area on the hour.

Arts & Culture

Ojai Valley Museum, located downtown in an historic chapel, offers rotating exhibits of art, local history and lore, and natural history. http://www.ojaivalleymuseum.org/

Ojai International Film Festival offers screenings, celebrity events and workshops at a variety of venues, including the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, the Ojai Playhouse, Matilija Junior High School, Thacher School, Happy Valley School, the Ojai Art Center and Libbey Bowl. http://www.ojaifilmfestival.com/.

The Ojai Music Festival, begun in the 1940s, offers its annual summer performances with leading artists. http://www.ojaifestival.org/

Ojai Shakespeare Festival is a community-based, non-profit organization that traces its history back over 110 years in the Ohai Valley. The festival begins producing the last weekend in July at the Libbey Bowl, and recently it began producing winter shows in conjunction with the Art Center Theater Company. http://www.ojaishakespeare.org/

The Ojai events calendar provides a look at the arts and entertainment activities in the current time frame. http://www.ojaievents.com/

Ojai Art Center Theater is one of the important venues. http://www.ojaiact.org/

The Krontona School of Theosophy emphasizes “transformative education” which focuses on spiritual renewal and a deeper understanding of theosophy and the ancient wisdom. http://www.theosophical.org/local_groups/krotona/index.php


The Ojai Recreation Department offers programs and activities which include youth day camps, youth and adult activity classes, volleyball, softball, flag football, basketball, soccer, tennis, teen fitness, a skateboard park, a comprehensive gymnastics program, aquatics, lifeguard training, youth excursions, and horse shows. http://www.ci.ojai.ca.us/

Located up against the Los Padres National Forest, Ojai offers a great many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking are popular, and there is fishing, golf, birding, camping, and boating.

Lake Casitas, located between Santa Barbara and Ventura, has 32 miles of shoreline and 6,200 acres of hardwoods and rolling hills. The lake has trout, bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish. Facilities include two boat ramps, boat and kayak rentals, large fishing docks, picnic areas, and electric and water hookups for its camping sites. The park also holds many special events including the Ojai Wine Festival, Ojai Renaissance Festival, and the Native American Indian Pow-Wow. http://www.casitaswater.org/

The Ojai Valley Trail is a result of converting a 100 year-old railroad right-of-way into a trail for walkers, joggers, hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. It provides a beautiful, safe pathway from downtown Ojai to the Pacific Ocean, 12 miles away.

Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail begins one-quarter mile north of the entrance to Wheeler Gorge campground, about eight miles north of Ojai. The trail is a one-half mile loop featuring chaparral plants and the Matilija Creek riparian habitat. An interpretive brochure is available at the campground’s Ranger Station. The Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament has been held in April for more than 100 years. http://www.ojaitourney.org/


Moorpark Community College is located in the foothills between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark on a 134-acre campus. Current enrollment is approximately 15,000 students. http://www.moorparkcollege.edu/

Senior Programs

“Help of Ojai’s” HELPnet has computers installed and available for use by seniors. The technical staff will help beginners, and there are classes for “basic computing” as well. http://www.helpofojai.org/

“Help of Ojai” offers a driver’s training course for seniors, including classroom talk and behind the wheel instruction. http://www.helpofojai.org/

The Ojai Trolley, which operates seven days a week, has one-hour fixed transportation routes through Ojai and Meiners Oaks. Seniors and children ride free. All vehicles are wheelchair accessible. http://www.ojaitrolley.com/


Ojai Valley Community Hospital has a 110-bed facility which includes a continuing care center. It provides inpatient, outpatient, and skilled nursing services for mostly primary and secondary care needs, and it operates a 24-hour standby emergency room. It also operates a primary care clinic – the Oak View Family Practice Clinic. http://www.cmhealth.org/


Los Angeles International (1:45 to 2:15 hours) – http://www.los-angeles-lax.com/
Bob Hope Airport (Burbank) (1:30 to 2 hours) – http://www.burbankairport.com/
Santa Barbara Airport (45 minutes) – http://www.flysba.com/




Ojai Valley News – http://www.ojaivalleynews.com/

Property Taxes

Ventura County Tax Collector –

State Taxes


Chamber of Commerce


State Aging Agency



Santa Barbara – 41 miles
Ventura – 15 miles
Los Angeles – 90 miles
San Fernando – 82 miles

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