"There's really just one important difference between Shangri-La and Ojai. Shangri-La doesn't exist."
--E. Michael Johson

Ojai (pronounced "Oh hi") is an Indian name generally accepted as meaning "the nest," although experts also interpret it as "moon." The valley was home to the Chumash who ascribed mystical powers to the east-west lying valley and found sanctuary in its canyons and mountains. It is 75 miles north of L.A. and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara.

During the late 1700s it was settled by the Spanish and Mission societies, followed by Don Fernando Tico who established Rancho Ojay in 1837 from a Mexican land grant. In 1874, the valley' s first settlement was named Nordhoff, in honor of an East Coast journalist who had publicized the gentle Southern California climate (causing the local population to increase to 100!). Not until 1917 did the little town become known as "Ojai."

That same year, Edward Drummond Libbey, wealthy glass manufacturer and philanthropist, brought about a major renaissance for the rather ramshackle downtown area by building the mission-style Arcade, the Post Office with its graceful tower, and the tree-shaded park, complete with tennis courts and outdoor amphitheater. Libbey's vision also included the Ojai Country Club which he built in 1923 with the same Spanish-style design that had so beautifully unified the business district.

Today, Ojai is an inspiring retreat with a surprising blend of cosmopolitan style and small town charm. Home to an eclectic mix of writers, artists and philosophers, it also hosts a nationally acclaimed tennis tournament, a music festival of international renown, and is considered one of the top 10 Spa towns in America.

There are many, residents and visitors alike, who savor the Ojai Valley as an earthly paradiseŚa real-life Shangri-LaŚwith its magnificent mountain landscapes, its perfect climate and its peaceful, friendly lifestyle.

These beautiful pictures were taken by a professional resident photographer for the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and are copyrighted by her.

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