In Ojai, Calif.
By GARY ANDREW POOLE, Published: April 29, 2005
J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times A view of the Ojai Valley from Meditation Mount. [photo caption]
PLACES considered spiritual seem invariably to be beautiful, and Ojai, Calif., is no exception. A town of about 8,200 set in a valley 20 minutes from the ocean, Ojai has a multitude of religious retreats, rich-hippie boarding schools (like the Happy Valley School, which counts Aldous Huxley and Jiddu Krishnamurti among its founders) and people walking around convinced that the area has magical healing powers. Spiritual teachers, gurus and Hollywood celebrities are drawn to the beauty of Ojai, with its clean white Spanish architecture and oak and citrus trees framed by the Coastal Range. More Telluride than Aspen, more Sonoma than Napa, it's a wealthy community that seems to pride itself on playing down its affluence. Many spa visitors never leave their resorts - a shame, because the Ojai Valley has plenty of chilled-out charm, good restaurants, a web of fine hiking trails and, seemingly around every corner, another alternative religion to try to understand.