Ojai is a city in Ventura County in the U.S. state of California. Located in the Ojai Valley, it is northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. The valley is about 10 miles (16 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide, surrounded by hills and mountains. The population was 7,461 at the 2010 census, down from 7,862 at the 2000 census.
Ojai is a tourism destination with boutique hotels and recreation opportunities including hiking, and spiritual retreats, as well as for a farmers’ market on Sundays with local organic agriculture. It also has small businesses specializing in local and ecologically friendly art, design, and home improvement—such as galleries and a solar power company. Chain stores (other than a few gas stations) are prohibited by Ojai city law to encourage local small business development and keep the town unique.
The city’s self-styled nickname is “Shangri-La” referencing the natural beauty of this health-and-spirituality-focused region. While there are no known references, it is commonly claimed that the mountains visible from the city were used, but then cut, from the 1937 movie as the mystical sanctuary of James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon.