Things to do in Ojai with kids

When most travelers think of Ojai California, they imagine a lush Southern Californian oasis of spas, retreats, and artistic shops and galleries…not exactly kid-paradise. In fact, an Ojai vacation can be family-friendly, as long as you know where to stay, where to find child-friendly activities, and what to avoid. Read on to ensure a relaxing Ojai getaway…with the kids.

things to do in Ojai with kids

Get outside.

Ojai is located 90 minutes outside of Los Angeles, and only 12 miles inland of Ventura California. While in Ojai, families can enjoy the cooler mountain air (especially in the morning and evening) while exploring the pristine Southern California landscape on foot or on bike. Area hiking ranges from easy strolls to strenuous treks along jeep roads, but local experts can help you find the right Ojai hiking for your family.

Ojai hiking

For school-aged kids, The Mob Shop at 110 W. Ojai Avenue offers bike rentals and guided bike rides throughout the hilly town and surrounding areas. If off-road biking is too challenging for your group, a paved bike trail follows Highway 33 into Ojai. We were able to catch this trail directly from our Ojai hotel to ride into town for a treat or early dinner.

Even if you’re staying in Ojai, consider a day trip into Ventura for a Channel Islands National Park excursion. Boats to the islands depart from the Ventura harbor on a regular schedule; in summer, plan to swim and snorkel, and in winter, hike or kayak around this sanctuary.


No, not all Ojai shopping is kid-friendly, but families are surprised by how much is. Best of all, adults will have just as good a time. The Casa Barranca wine tasting room is located right next door to Ojai Ice Cream on popular E. Ojai Avenue, and both make for a nice walking or shopping break. Farther down the same block are a number of boutiques featuring local artists and handmade goods: while small kids will need to be reminded not to touch, this is a great opportunity to show kids the wealth of the Ojai artist community.

Bart's books

Bart's books

Bart’s Books is located off the beaten path on Matilija Street, but is well-worth the walk. Kids and adults will be entranced by this open-air bookshop filled patio to (not) ceiling with used books. Bart’s Books even operates on the honor system: patrons can come after-hours and leave coins in the slot by the door to make purchases. If you have readers, plan to spend upwards of an hour exploring this haven, and if you have younger kids, let them explore the winding aisles of bookshelves, interior rooms, patios, and outdoor fireplaces while you peruse. When everyone’s tired, head back to Ojai Avenue to play at Libbey Park.

Libbey Park, Ojai

Visit Lake Casitas Recreational Area.

During the summer months, families must take an afternoon to visit nearby Lake Casitas and its lake, picnic grounds, and campground. You can’t swim in the lake (it’s drinking water), but the recreational area goes one better: the Lake Casitas Water Adventure is a water park playground with wading pools, a lazy river, and water play equipment. Camping is available at Lake Casitas as well: they now offer reservations one year in advance, and in the high season, it’s recommended.

Blue Iguana Inn

Sleep affordably.

Despite its heavenly weather and landscape, Ojai lodging is surprisingly down-to-earth. If camping is not your thing, I recommend the Blue Iguana Inn, located outside of Ojai on Highway 33. The Blue Iguana offers family-sized bungalows with full kitchens, giving parents the convenience of cooking in, and plenty of room for kids to roam on their fully landscaped, lushly beautiful property with pool and hot tub. The Blue Iguana certainly maintains an atmosphere of peace and quiet, but kids are welcome.