Late-summer in the Santa Ynez Valley means long, sunny days – often spent in vineyards and wineries, on hiking trails or horseback, at pools or spas, or shopping, museum-hopping and of course, eating your way through it all. But Santa Barbara wine country activities don’t stop when night falls. Whether we’re your vacation or wedding destination, or where you call “home”, the Santa Ynez Valley offers numerous nightlife options to keep your wine country agenda – and your glass – filled to the brim.
Santa Ynez, the Late-Night Capital of the “SYV”
The Victorian-Western town of Santa Ynez, maybe surprisingly, offers the most extended late-night hours in the Santa Ynez Valley. The storied and historic Maverick Saloon hosts frequent, and lively, musical acts and equally as energetic guests with operating hours until 2am, every night. Front porch seating, a kitchen turning out a gussied-up late night menu and regular events like Honky-Tonk Thursday, Karaoke Night and 2-Step Dance Lessons, keep this wine country roadhouse, well, “country”. At the sleek, modern opposite end of the Santa Ynez nightlife spectrum, sits the Chumash Casino Resort, with a 24/7 casino and bars, the Lounge at the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Willows restaurant (open daily until 11pm), bountiful late-night dining options at The Buffet (open daily until 10pm) and The Café (open Sunday-Thursday until 12am, Friday/Saturday until 2am).
Buellton, Second to None
When an award-winning movie brings fame to your delicious slice of wine country, you run with it: may we present the Sideways Lounge at Buellton’s Sideways Inn, open daily until 12am. The newly-renovated, sparkling-chic Lounge features signature cocktails with nods to its Santa Ynez Valley neighbors – “Los Olivos Lavender Lemondrop”, “Solvang Sazerac” – bottled and draft beers, and wine, natch, including requisite listings of local Pinot Noir. An adjacent firepit and al fresco seating only add to your wine country story.
More Sideways nostalgia, with a helping of “Santa Maria Style BBQ”, may be found at The Hitching Post II Restaurant (open daily until 9:30pm). Live music fans flock to Standing Sun Wines (open until 10pm on concert nights), one of the Santa Ynez Valley’s leading live entertainment venues hosting singers/songwriters and bands from Los Angeles to Nashville, and all points in between.
Buellton’s beer industry centers also offer evening entertainment: Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Buellton Taproom & Barrelworks facility is open seven days until 9pm, as is Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.’s Buellton Taproom. Bonus? Both breweries include on-site restaurants with outdoor areas. The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott’s 555 Lounge & Bar, as grand as the hotel’s lodging accommodations, welcomes late-night revelers with well-appointed outdoor lounging options.
Solvang. #livelikeaviking #andpartylikeonetoo
Solvang’s sidewalks do NOT roll up at “5”. Case(s) in point: Solvang Brewing Company’s famous windmill welcomes late-night eaters and drinkers seven days, until what the brewery, bar and restaurant simply refers to as “Late” hours. Outdoor seating with prime people-watching fronts the venue.
The Good Life, “a craft beer & wine cellar”, regularly features live music and special events, also with sidewalk-adjacent outdoor seating (open Sunday-Wednesday until 9pm; Friday/Saturday until 11pm). The hip, Nordic design aesthetic of The Landsby hotel’s Lobby Lounge (open Sunday-Thursday until 9pm; Friday/Saturday until 10pm) sets the scene for cleverly-crafted cocktails and elevated bar nibbles, like “Salumi Grilled Cheese” (fontina, hot salami, prosciutto, pesto, local sourdough). Sort This Out Cellars’ wine tasting room hides a posterior secret: High Roller Tiki Lounge, an atmospheric and singular wine country tiki bar serving up “wine-tails” with a healthy dose of tiki culture and décor. Both venues rock with live music most Friday and Saturday nights (open Sunday-Thursday until 7pm; Friday/Saturday until 10pm).
During Santa Ynez Valley’s summer months, theatergoers delight in the open-air Solvang Festival Theater’s “PCPA” (Pacific Conservatory Theatre) residency and the varied performances that it brings. Next up, “Mamma Mia!” (July 27-August 26) and Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” (August 30-September 9). During Solvang’s annual Danish heritage and food & wine festival, Solvang Danish Days (September 14-16), the event’s Viking Beer & Wine Garden stays open until 10pm, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Linger in Los Olivos (and Ballard)
The Bear and Star at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn offers a Bar Menu until 9:45pm, Fridays and Saturdays, while the restaurant serves dinner daily, until 9pm. The Los Olivos outpost of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. is open daily until 9pm, with plentiful outdoor seating, a live music schedule, occasional food trucks and foodie pop-ups. The Gathering Table restaurant at the quaint Ballard Inn, has dinner seating Wednesday through Sunday until 9pm.
Los Alamos, Santa Ynez Valley’s Last Late-Night Frontier
Ready those cameras: Los Alamos night spots are an Instagrammers dream. Near the western end of the town’s main “strip”, Bell Street, stands the history-laden 1880 Union Saloon. The once-stagecoach station bar swings its doors open until 11pm daily (except Tuesdays), with a Western antiquity-filled space, chef-driven bar bites (including regional “delicacies” like a tri-tip sandwich and chicharrones). Split into two sections, “Whiskey” and “Non-Whiskey”, the Saloon’s cocktail menu features some of the most spirited drinks in the SYV (Barrel-Aged Negroni, anyone?).
PICO at the Los Alamos General Store’s (open until 9pm, Sundays and Tuesday-Thursday; until 10pm, Friday/Saturday) award-winning restaurant wine list is rivaled only by their equally-curated cocktail menu, with drinks like the “Bing Bong” (Bourbon, lemon, Bing cherry juice), “Highland Honey” (Scotch, honey vinegar, lemon, absynthe), and the simplistic “Fast y Nasty” (Mezcal, pickled jalapeño, lemon juice). PICO’s “backyard” has garden-laced seating areas and a rustic fire pit, while the restaurant/ bar/ wine shop mash-up holds a 2,000-bottle retail selection for wines “to go”. Weary road trippers, you have arrived: vistas and vibes rule at iconic mid-century motel, Skyview Los Alamos, recently reopened post-jaw-dropping remodel. With a fitting on-site eatery and bar, Norman – and proprietary vineyard – dinner and drinks are served daily to both hotel guests and “non” until 9pm, with a bar that opens up to outdoor seating on two sides, a perfectly-restored pool area, and an expertly-mixed “drink list that highlights some of the best winemakers and local ingredients” in these parts.
When you’ve had your fill of Santa Ynez Valley nightlife, we have over 30 hotel options for a restoring night’s sleep. You’ll need your energy for the next day’s – and night’s – wine country adventure.
About Visit Santa Ynez Valley: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best places to eat in Solvang, best Santa Ynez wineries, and lists things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at https://www.visitsyv.com for complete visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations.