Less than five minutes east of downtown Ojai is Boccali’s Restaurant: a rustic, picture-perfect little piece of paradise that’s not to be missed.
The Boccali family has lived and farmed in Ojai for generations, and they serve up super-fresh Italian food — most of which they grow themselves, either on their Upper Ojai ranch or right behind the restaurant.
In the spring, locals love Boccali’s for their warm, just-baked strawberry shortcakes. In the summer, we crave their best-you’ve-ever-tasted tomato salads.
And no fall in Ojai is complete without a trip to the Boccali’s Pumpkin Patch. Behind the oak trees that surround the restaurant are countless pumpkins of all shapes and sizes — literally!
Wind your way through the rows of corn and hay bales, and choose from all sizes of pumpkins — mini to “Big Mac” beasts. They’ve also got green crook-necks, lumpy gray Hubbards, gourds, Indian corn, and lots more.
Let the kids run around in the hay maze, and if you’re here on the weekend, be sure to take a free hayride around the patch and enjoy Ojai’s incredible scenery.
And once the sun goes down, the ghouls come out for the Haunted Hayride (Fridays and Saturdays). The Boccali clan goes all out with this one, recruiting lots of friends and family to give you an elaborate, ever-changing creep show through the “haunted” cornfields.
For an extra-special treat, gather around the campfire Oct. 11 or 12 and hear scary stories about the ghosts of the Ojai Valley, as told by famous ghost stalker Richard Senate. Every other Friday and Saturday night, hang out and sing songs by the campfire with local musicians.
Tips from the locals:
• Don’t go home without tasting the Strawberry Shortcake. (Seriously.)
• Be sure to bring cash or checks; Boccali’s doesn’t accept credit cards.
• The Haunted Hayride isn’t TOO scary, but is generally suited for kids ages 6 and up.
• If you’re going for dinner, head out a little before sunset and catch that legendary Pink Moment while sipping on the Boccali Vineyards “Pink Moment” Rosé Syrah. (They grow their grapes in Upper Ojai and they offer several varietals by the bottle and glass.)
- Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta, 3277 Ojai-Santa Paula Road, Ojai; Open Monday & Tuesday form 4 to 9 p.m., Weds-Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.
- Pumpkin Patch: Oct 5 to 31. Sunday through Thurs. from 10 a.m. till dusk, and till 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Daytime Hayrides: Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 27, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; free
- Haunted Hayrides: Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26, from 7 to 9 p.m.; $8
- For more: (805)-646-6116 or www.boccalis.com