Take back highways 23, 126 and 150 through orange groves, a sandstone canyon and historic Santa Paula to Ojai, whose circa-1917 Spanish Colonial downtown of boutiques, restaurants and galleries thrives amidst a ban on chain stores. The world-class Ojai Music Festival and a 1970s wave of hippies put a modern twist on this bucolic valley paradise. Organic farming is an old art here, and you won't see any billboards or garish signage — they're also banned. Instead, cafés beckon with live classical, folk and jazz music, and charming shop-window displays are a point of honor among independent owners. Before Ojai's famed sunset washes the streets in rich magenta, be sure to explore the deep-shadowed orchard lands near McNell and Thacher roads, where fantastic stone boundary walls speak to a handmade world of yore. Ojai Visitors Bureau, 206 N. Signal St., Ste. P, Ojai. (888) 652-4669, ojaivisitors.com. —Jill Stewart

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