There’s a feeling you get in the Santa Ynez Valley – a vibe. Gather inspiration for your next trip from our blog, and then share how you experience the SYV by tagging your photos on social with #SYVibes.
Below is a guide to making the most of your Christmas experience in the Santa Ynez Valley. Here you will find a list of what restaurants and wineries will be open, and which restaurants offer special holiday menus. For the best experience, we highly recommend calling the restaurants and tasting rooms ahead of time to ensure they still have seating availability.
Tasting Rooms Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Thanksgiving is here (though the weather may not always reflect it!) – and if you are thinking about letting someone else do the cooking this year, Santa Ynez Valley restaurants are eager to serve.
Below is a guide to making the most of your Thanksgiving experience in the Santa Ynez Valley. Here you will find a list of what restaurants and wineries will be open, and which restaurants offer special holiday menus. For the best experience, we highly recommend calling the restaurants and tasting rooms ahead of time to ensure they still have seating availability.
But what other things to do on Thanksgiving can you partake in, especially if you have relatives to entertain? How about a little adventure on Thanksgiving Day? Vino Vaqueros Horseback Riding will be open for rides on Thanksgiving. Call (805) 944-0493 to make your reservation. Need a little exercise before dinner? Head to the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA from 5:30am – 10am.
Also, make sure to check out our Events Calendar for a complete listing of upcoming events.
Cafe: 7am – midnight; full daily menu in addition to a pre-fix Thanksgiving turkey dinner menu that includes Roasted butternut squash soup to start then traditional turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes and then house made pumpkin pie with cookie butter ice cream. This menu is $22.95. Buffet: 1pm-9pm; price is $45 for adults and $14.95 for 12 and under children. Serving full buffet in addition to roast turkey with all the thanksgiving trimmings. Willows: 3:00pm – 9:00pm; serving daily Willows menu in addition to a pre-fix holiday menu. Starter: Choice of Roasted Butternut squash soup or compressed apple salad; Entrée: Deistel free range turkey, cornbread stuffing, Rancho Cortez green beans, Sweet yam gratin, whipped Yukon gold potatoes, and giblet gravy; Dessert: Pumpkin S’mores, cranberry sorbet, housemade pumpkin pie with crumble crust; Price: $65.
First Annual Santa Ynez Valley Signature Event to include Town-Wide, Progressive Dinner; VIP Wine Tastings and Seminars; Varying Menu of Winemaker Dinners; Live Music; Film Screening; Vineyard Tours and Outdoor Activities; plus, “Solvang Grape Stomp” and “Sideways Fest”
The Santa Ynez Valley, home to one of the California Central Coast’s renowned wine regions, will host its inaugural four-day food, wine and experiential event, “Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley: The First Course in Food, Wine, and Experiences” (TasteSYV.com), Thursday through Sunday, October 17-20, 2019. The new signature event will take place in the six Santa Ynez Valley wine country towns of Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Solvang, Ballard and Buellton, with immersive experiences meant to serve as an introductory course to the edible and imbibe-able bounty of the burgeoning food, wine and beer destination.
More than 100 restaurants, wineries, wine tasting rooms, breweries, and entertainment venues will welcome Santa Ynez Valley visitors and locals during the four days of foodie adventure, with over two dozen events spread throughout the region, with associated tickets and pricing designed for all wining and dining budgets. Approachable in terms of both itinerary and location, sitting approximately two hours north of Los Angeles by car, and four hours south of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities will showcase their defining food and wine features during their respective Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley event days.
“Santa Ynez Valley is quietly rising to the top of wine and food lovers’ lists as a must-visit wine region, and our offering of not one, but six towns to explore and consume, means there’s something here for nearly every ‘taste’,” said Shelby Sim, President / CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, the destination marketing organization overseeing the event’s production.
Launching Thursday, October 17 in the final food-frontier of Los Alamos, guests may pull up a chair for a seated dinner served at a lengthy communal table, on the atmospheric Old West town’s main thoroughfare of Bell Street. Featured chefs and restaurants will include the likes of entertainment exec-turned-baker, Bob Oswaks, of Bob’s Well Bread Bakery; pioneering Los Alamos chef/restaurateur, Clark Staub, of Full of Life Flatbread; heavy-hitting wine tasting room and restaurant combos like winemaker Will Henry’s joint venture with chef Drew Terp, Pico at the Los Alamos General Store, or farmer James Ontiveros’ Ranchos de Ontiveros Wines coupled with chef Conrad Gonzales’ Cisko Kid oakwood grilling; and Bell’s Restaurant, at which the serious culinary cred of husband/wife team Greg and Daisy Ryan, takes a French twist. The al fresco dinner will begin with a sparkling toast featuring Riverbench Vineyard & Winery.
Thursday event attendees may also sample from the wine, beer and cider havens of Casa Dumetz Wines and Babi’s Beer Emporium, natural-leaning Lo-Fi Wines or Bodega Los Alamos, Bedford Winery, Municipal Winemakers and more, either at the businesses’ Los Alamos locations or at a wine tasting and live music gathering in the town’s Ferrini Park, where Santa Maria and Los Alamos wineries will pour in a grand tasting format.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings will offer event attendees stand-alone, optional activities such as hikes, bicycling, horseback riding, yoga in the vineyards, brunches, breakfasts and coffee experiences, plus a Saturday-only “Sideways Shuttle Tour”.
Continuing on Friday, October 18, in the Valley’s namesake town of Santa Ynez, Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley will educate guests during wine seminars and wine tastings – the latter showcasing Santa Ynez-proper and Happy Canyon AVA wines – to be held at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. The storied Maverick Saloon will host an evening concert and BBQ.
Also on tap for Friday, is the beginning of the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance’s Sideways Fest Wine & Movie Celebration, an event-filled tribute to the film which 15 years ago, kick-started the Santa Ynez Valley’s place in wine and movie history. The Friday night Sideways Fest happening, to be held at the open-air Solvang Festival Theater, will include a movie screening and wine tasting spotlighting wineries tied to the now-iconic film. A Q&A Panel featuring Sideways film personalities will precede the screening.
The foodie fun will continue on Saturday, October 19, in the Santa Ynez Valley hubs of Los Olivos and Solvang. The festival within a festival which puts the “country” back in “wine country”, Los Olivos’ annual “Day in the Country” fall fest will serve as the family-friendliest portion of Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley. The Victorian-era village’s streets will be closed to traffic, boasting rows of artisan vendors, food trucks and booths, an early morning family “fun run”, and a small-town parade. Los Olivos’ walk-able avenues will lead tasting passport-holding guests through the wine-soaked town, while a tented VIP Lounge will feature Los Olivos-area labels lacking in-town tasting rooms.
The second annual Solvang Grape Stomp will also take place on Saturday, with an actual grape stomping opportunity, live music, and Valley-wide producer wine tastings lining pedestrian-friendly streets in the heart of Solvang, “California’s Denmark”. Saturday evening will bring wine dinner experiences scattered about both Los Olivos and Solvang, at Santa Ynez Valley wine country restaurant favorites like local-food-driven Root 246 at Hotel Corque; Michelin-honored First & Oak; and at chef/owner Budi Kazali’s The Gathering Table at his Ballard Inn, in the pastoral burg of Ballard.
On Sunday, the festivities move down the road to the travel-town of Buellton, where Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley culminates with a Sideways Wine Festival grand tasting at River View Park featuring wine, beer and food from all over the Santa Ynez Valley, accompanied by live music. Sunday night stays will award guests with both wine- and beer-pairing events in and around Buellton, including a daytime cooking class at Industrial Eats and a beer-pairing dinner at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
“With so many fantastic, regionally unique places to eat and an unending supply of excellent wine and beer coming from all corners of the Santa Ynez Valley right now, there’s never been a better time to capitalize on this culinary concentration,” remarked Matt Kettmann, editor at Wine Enthusiast and The Santa Barbara Independent. “It’s exciting to see all of the individual communities band together to host a series of educational and edible events to promote the overall Santa Ynez Valley brand. Every place is distinct, yet they all share a commitment to making world-class wine and serving delicious food, mostly grown in the surrounding fields.”
Produced in partnership with Santa Barbara-based En Fuego Events, and with media sponsorship by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, ticket proceeds from the inaugural Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley will benefit Santa Barbara Vintners. A “VIP” all-inclusive lanyard package will be available for purchase, granting attendees access to all Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley main events plus one evening experience per night. Single-day lanyards will also be available for purchase, providing access to any given day’s main events and one of that evening’s wine dinners. Individual event wristbands will also be available, for entry into the weekend’s individual, main events.
Sim added, “The Santa Ynez Valley’s layout is as diverse as our food, wine, beer and spirits craft culture, making the area an ideal multiple-day getaway. What’s more, we have numerous hotels and lodging options to suit nearly any vacation budget and itinerary. Our menu of wine country getaway offerings is as fruitful as our land, so we’ve created this event to give visitors just a little taste of the Santa Ynez Valley…knowing that they’ll come back for more.”
Spend Mother’s Day Weekend in the Santa Ynez Valley – 2019
Yes, you need to do the traditional Mother’s Day brunch and flowers. Still, why not think outside the ‘lunch box’ and give mom some extra love and care with these great wine country activities that she’ll cherish? Think painting and yoga in the vineyard, perfume making, treats and delicious food in Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country.
Here are some ideas to make the weekend extra special, and as a bonus, these are things that will be great fun for you, too!
Do something a little different this year, with a focus on bonding time together:
Saturday, May 11: Bicycle through Wine Country with Mom
www.rewindphotography.com Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer
Pedal through beautiful Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country, visit two wineries and enjoy tastings and a picnic lunch.
Saturday, May 11: Painting in the Vineyard at Koehler Winery
Are you looking for a new experience in wine country while spending quality time celebrating a mother in your life? Then come paint in the vineyard with Gypsy Studios and put a creative twist on your next Mother’s Day gift. You’ll spend the morning sipping delicious Koehler wines and capturing the beauty of the vineyard on canvas.
This two and half hour experience will inspire your creative side while indulging the wine lover in you. Don’t worry if you’ve never painted. Our trained artist and teacher will walk you through each step of the process. You’ll be amazed at what you can create!
The Koehler Winery property boasts gorgeous vistas, picnic areas, and 40-year-old vines..some of the oldest in the Santa Ynez Valley. Situated on Foxen Canyon Road, this winery is just minutes away from Los Olivos, CA as well as a bounty of other wine tasting rooms and vineyards. The estate’s storied history includes ownership by one of the most successful television producers in history, renowned for such iconic shows as The Love Boat, Dynasty and Wonder Woman.
Bring your friends and family, pack a picnic and grab a wine glass and a paintbrush!
$65 per painter – includes wine tasting, a Gypsy Studios stemless wine glass, plus all art materials and instructions for you to create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece!
Saturday, May 11 & Sunday, May 12: Mother’s Day Weekend- Turquoise Succulents Workshops at The Brander Vineyard
Join Santa Barbara-based succulent artist Ashley Rifkin and design your very own succulent arrangement while celebrating that special mom in your life and enjoying a glass of Brander wine. Bring friends and family and take in the sunshine and gorgeous scenery at The Brander Vineyard while learning to create your very own succulent arrangement. Choose from a variety of vessels, rare succulents, and decorative finishing touches to design a unique arrangement. Learn tips to care for your arrangement year-round including seasonal water needs and sunlight. All materials and a glass of wine are provided. All participants will also enjoy 10% off bottles of Brander wines. Start times are 12:00pm and 1:30pm. Please be sure to sign up for your preferred time as each class is a separate Eventbrite event. Looking forward to meeting you!
(Additional times may be added to meet demand. Those under 21 years old are permitted to participate in workshop without wine. Valid ID required for alcohol consumption. Please contact email@example.com)
Saturday, May 11 & Sunday, May 12: Mother’s Day Wine and Cupcake Pairing Experience
Mom deserves a sweet treat! Join us on Mother’s Day Weekend to celebrate everyone’s favorite woman. Visit three wineries, enjoy a delightful picnic lunch and a friendly guide with transportation to and from your accommodation. All included in the price.
Sunday, May 12: Mother’s Day Painting in the Vineyard at Brander Winery
Are you looking for a new experience in wine country while spending quality time celebrating a mother in your life? Then come paint in the vineyard with Gypsy Studios and put a creative twist on your next Mother’s Day gift. You’ll spend the morning sipping delicious Brander wines and capturing the beauty of the vineyard on canvas. Our painting in the vineyard classes provides a beautiful, stress-free environment that will both inspire your creative spirit and indulge the wine-lover in you. Don’t consider yourself an artist just yet? Don’t worry. Our trained artist will walk you through the entire painting process step-by-step. No previous painting experience necessary. You’ll be amazed at what you can create in just a few hours- even if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush in your life!
Bring your friends and family, pack a picnic and grab a wine glass and a paintbrush!
$65 per painter – includes wine tasting, a Gypsy Studios stemless wine glass, plus all art materials and instructions for you to create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece!
Mother’s Day Brunch at Root 246, Sunday, May 12, 2019, 9am to 2pm
On Sunday, May 12, Root 246 will boast a four-course Mother’s Day Brunch menu, served from 9:00am to 2:00pm, followed by regular dinner service in the dining rooms starting at 5:00pm. Reservations for the May 12 Mother’s Day Brunch, or dinner, at Root 246 may be made in advance by contacting the restaurant at 805.686.8681, or via OpenTable: www.opentable.com/root-246-at-hotel-corque.
Four-course, prix fixe menu: Adults, $65.00++. Kids menu available, $16.00++ (ages 12 and under).
The Bear and Star welcomes guests to celebrate the moms in their life on Sunday, May 12 with a Mother’s Day brunch. This buffet-style meal will include a variety of classic brunch items as well as signature dishes from the culinary team at The Bear and Star. Guests with a sweet tooth will enjoy cornbread, coffee cake, scones, muffins, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and much more. Savory offerings include the restaurant’s signature deviled ranch eggs, smoked salmon, baked brie, griddled sausage, smoked pork tenderloin, quiche, macaroni and cheese, a carving station and more. ($60 for adults, $25 for children 12 and under)
Mother’s Day with live music by Brady Harris at Kalyra Tasting Room, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Join us at 140 Industrial Way in Buellton at the Kalyra Tasting room and listen to the lovely voice and ukelele tunes by Brady Harris– our most requested musician. Bring a picnic and spend the day tasting wine; Moms get a complimentary glass of champagne. Wine by the glass and bottle available for purchase to 21+. Hours Noon – 4:00pm.
Easter weekend is a special time to celebrate and gather with loved ones in the Santa Ynez Valley. We know there’s plenty to do between family gatherings and church outings, so we’ve compiled a list of activities and events over Easter Weekend for you to peruse.
Saturday, April 20
🥚Easter Egg Hunt
29th Annual Easter Eggstravaganza Egg hunt
The Valley’s largest egg hunt is in Buellton at River View Park. The Easter Eggstravaganza starts at 9am. Get there early so you don’t have to rush. Easter Egg Hunt starts at 10:00 am sharp! After the hunt, enjoy activities, games, Easter crafts, a picture with the Easter bunny, food trucks and more! Plus the 4th Annual Adult-only egg hunt.
Hours: 9am – 1pm
Cost of Event: Free admission
Sunday, April 21, Easter Day
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Hop, skip and jump to this Sunday’s Annual Easter Brunch in the Sycamore Rooms at Alisal Guest Ranch. We’ll be serving a full brunch buffet with a salad, seafood and omelet bar; carving station and dessert buffet.
Hours: 11:00am – 1:00pm Cost: $65 Per Person – $24 Children 12 and Under
Chumash Casino Resort – The Buffet
(800) 248-6274 Easter Special
Enjoy this “All You Can Eat” Easter Menu which includes Herb Crusted Prime Rib, Oven Roasted Turkey, Honey-Mustard Glazed Bone-In-Ham, Crab Legs, Peel & Eat Shrimp Cocktail Choose from a variety of international cuisines, An endless display of desserts Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, Confetti Cup Cakes, Trifle, Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts, Bread Pudding and more!
$45, $14.95 Children under 12 years old
Chumash Casino Resort – Willows
(800) 248-6274 Easter Special
Sunday, April 21, 2019
CREAMED PEA SOUP, Spring peas, leeks, mint, and san Daniel prosciutto
ASPARAGUS SALAD – Arugula, asparagus, Laura Chenel goat cheese, Herb vinaigrette
DOVER SOLE Tableside, haricot verts, Marcona almonds,
RACK OF LAMB – Colorado, green garlic, colcannon mashed
potatoes, porcini, mushrooms
Meyer Lemon and blueberry mousse, lavender, shortbread, mascarpone
(877) 783-5247 Easter Brunch
Time slots are 11:00am, 12:00pm and 1:00pm and reservations can be made by calling Flying Flags.
GRILLED FRUIT SKEWERS
TRI-TIP SKEWERS with chimichurri sauce
GRILLED VEGETABLE PLATTER
CREAM CHEESE & SMOKED SALMON CROSTINI
AVOCADO TOAST – assorted toppings
SPINACH & GOAT CHEESE SALAD – lemon vinaigrette, dried cranberries, and candied pecans
SPRING VEGETABLE QUICHE
BERRY & LEMON PARFAITS
MINI CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES
CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN WITH FIXINGS
ADULTS: $35; KIDS (UNDER 13): $18
BOTTOMLESS MIMOSA BAR ($10 extra)
Root 246 (805) 686-8681 Easter Brunch
10am-3pm (then open for regular/new Spring dinner menus at 5pm)
The buffet will be served in the Lounge
$49.00++ for adults, $18.00++ for kids (12 and under)
Guests can make reservations by calling (805) 686-8681 or at www.root-246.com MENU
The Bear and Star
(805) 686-1359 Easter Brunch
Enjoy a decadent Easter Brunch at The Bear and Star. This buffet-style meal will include a variety of classic brunch items as well as signature dishes from the culinary team at The Bear and Star.
Reservations are available from 11am to 3pm. $60* for Adults $25* for Children 12 and under * gratuity and taxes excluded
🥚Easter Egg Hunts
Fess Parker Wine Country Inn
(800) 446-2455 Family-friendly Easter egg hunt
This event starts at 12:30pm in the Garden. Easter baskets for the children provided while supplies last. We request that guests be sure to arrive on time.
St. Mark’s-in-the Valley Episcopal Church Holy Week Easter Services & Egg Hunt
St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church’s popular Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Sunday, April 21, 2019 at 9:15 a.m. on the church grounds located at 2901 Nojoqui Avenue in Los Olivos. Toddlers and children through elementary school ages are invited to bring their own basket and discover special treats throughout the courtyard and gardens.
Bring a picnic basket and enjoy some wine while the kids paint eggs, hunt for treats, and take photos with the Easter Bunny! Food will be available for purchase.
12:30 – 5pm
Elverhoj Museum of History & Art
(805) 686-1211 Learn about Solvang’s Danish heritage and early history. Viking and Danish artifacts on display plus diorama cottage of downtown in the 1920s!
Nashville artist relocated to the Central Coast MAVERICK SALOON welcomes Liv Waters music to their Sunday patio
Egg Hunt VR is the ULTIMATE Easter Egg Hunt virtual reality experience. Wander through realistic environments like forests, the ocean, and snowy mountains, looking for Easter eggs! With “Bunny” by your side, he will help you find them if you get stuck. Celebrate Easter by playing today!
Hours: 10am – 5pm
To book times outside of normal business hours, call (805) 325-9769
🍷 Wine Tasting Rooms Open
The following Santa Ynez Valley wineries and tasting rooms will also be open on Sunday, April 1. We recommend calling ahead to confirm hours.
With world-class wines, a farm-to-table culinary scene, endless natural beauty, and a mild climate, the romance of Valentine’s Day is offered any time of year
The Santa Ynez Valley has long been a favorite destination for couples who yearn for a romantic wine country getaway. With acres of rolling vineyards nourishing some of the world’s best wines, charming inns and hotels welcoming visitors at seemingly every turn, and a creative farm-to-table culinary scene and restaurants with just the right ambiance, the Santa Ynez Valley leaves little wonder why.
Of course, we all want to wow the one we love with a perfect Valentine’s Day. But here in the Santa Ynez Valley along California’s breathtaking Central Coast — where the climate is perfectly mild all year round and the natural beauty is endless from sea to mountain peak — romantic getaways can hardly be contained to a single day in February.
Home to six quaint towns spread throughout a fertile valley, the Santa Ynez Valley’s offerings are as diverse as the couples who visit. The distractions of the outside world fade away as couples ride through the vineyards on horseback, then share the bounty of the region with a quiet picnic prepared by an award-winning chef. With more than 100 wineries to explore, a guided wine tour from a local expert allows couples to take it all in without a single worry in the world. And couples can sip the region’s great vintages with a private tasting in a quiet section of an estate vineyard.
Revel in a morning hike to Gaviota Peak for a breathtaking ocean view, then reach peak relaxation together with a couples massage at one of the region’s top spas, followed by a private wine tasting or two. And finish the day by savoring the fresh flavors and intimate settings that have fostered the Santa Ynez Valley’s renowned culinary scene.
“The romance of the Santa Ynez Valley lies in the abundance of opportunities for couples to reconnect, and the mild climate keeps the window of opportunity open all year long,” said Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “This region is proud of its world-class wines and restaurants. But what makes the Santa Ynez Valley a truly exceptional romantic getaway is in the many ways it can be shared and relished together — from wine tours and tastings to outdoor excursions to soaring over vineyards in a hot-air balloon or glider.”
Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, so much is possible most every day of the year.
Planning a romantic trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at visitsyv.com, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom itinerary with the click of a mouse.
About the Santa Ynez Valley:
Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley feels worlds apart from both. With six distinct communities encompassing everything from classic California wine country to Northern European traditions to the very best of the Old West, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to endless possibilities. Here in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang visitors will find more than 100 wineries, incredible food, special events and a unique, rich heritage. For more information, including a complete listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go toVisitSYV.com.
A Listing of Santa Barbara Wine Country Locales to Fulfill Your Inner Instagrammer
If you take a trip and don’t post a resulting photo stream to Insta, did that vacation really happen??? Thanks to the force of social media that is Instagram, many of us seek out perfect backdrops for documenting our adventures and experiences, wine country or otherwise. And just a couple of hours north of Los Angeles, or a handful of hours south of San Francisco, on the historically-road tripped California Central Coast, you’ll find six Santa Ynez Valley towns full of scenescapes – all ready and waiting for their close-up.
With all of this photographic content at your fingertips, you’ll need to make the Santa Ynez Valley more than just a day-trip. Book your stay to start populating that Insta feed…c’mon, do it for the gram.
In the tiny town of Los Alamos, a former stagecoach stop and depot for the Pacific Coast Railway, preserved Old West scenes mingle with mid-century structures and architecture – and nowhere are the town’s Western wiles more apparent than at the 1880 Union Hotel and Saloon, which still houses a stagecoach office within the private event space of the Hotel, a popular wedding venue. The open-to-the-public Saloon has photographic details galore, and the weathered, wood-paneled building’s frontier-town façade always offers up plenty of lens personality.
Accommodations at boutique, cactus-adorned The Alamo Motel, come complete with Southwestern-chic décor elements and an on-property outpost of Santa Barbara County wine label, Municipal Winemakers, in the form of a photogenic wine tasting “cabin”.
Skyview Los Alamos, an extensively-rehabbed 1950s motor lodge, still boasts the property’s original road-side signage and swimming pool, around which a lounge-y scene of craft cocktails and elevated “hotel food” has emerged (hint: don’t miss the oysters). The 1864 exterior of theVictorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast makes for a pretty picture, but the six themed suites on the inside (1950s, Gypsy, Roman, Egyptian, Pirate, French) really take the Instagram cake.
Downtown Los Olivos’ Instagram title of “Miss Congeniality” has been decidedly bestowed uponLos Olivos Lemons, a giant, yellow citrus-shaped stand doling out gourmet lemonade, adjacent to the kid-friendly (of both the “big” and “little” varieties) Saarloos + Sons wine tasting room.
Rowdy, raucous and raring to go: the Western-Victorian town of Santa Ynez is known most in nightlife circles, for The Maverick Saloon. Fabled live entertainment and dance venue, bar and now, eatery, “The Mav” has been the location of many a photo session, some clearly remembered, some slightly hazy (in the best possible way). Strike a pose with one of the many authentic, history-filled horse-drawn transports at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum’s Carriage House. A nod to the Valley’s Victorian era may be found in the opulently-renovated Santa Ynez Inn, with its rambling grounds and event spaces.
At one of the Santa Ynez Valley’s vineyard gems, Sunstone Vineyards & Winery, the organically-farmed vineyards loll out from under the estate’s Provençal French courtyards, stone barrel-aging caves, and picturesque picnic havens.
Ballard and Solvang
The “burg” of Ballard is in and of itself, fantastically photo-ready, but its crowning jewel is the bucolic lodging and restaurant duo, Chef Budi Kazali’s Ballard Inn and The Gathering Table. Down the country road, lies agri-centricButtonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, with its Instagram “influencer”-favorited 1946 farm truck. In the heart of downtown Solvang, the Danish-settled village displays numerous hints at its rich cultural past, many of which make for renowned modern photo opps. Solvang’s multiple windmills pull double-duty as businesses and backdrops: in three of the most famous, you’ll find CrossHatch Winery (436 Alisal Road), Sevtap Winery (1622 Copenhagen Drive), and Solvang Brewing Company (1547 Mission Drive).
No visit to “Little Denmark” would be whole, without a pause for pictures in front of The Little Mermaid fountain (Mission Drive and Alisal Road). And who could resist the vivid, vast circumferences of the Danish pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House? Not anyone who would also regale the iconic pastry offerings from one of the many Solvang bakeries, or those frequently-portrayed Danish dough rounds, Aebleskiver. Shopping in Solvang is plentiful, and noticeably popular among visitors is the home of the big red clog – the famously-photographable footwear residing curbside at the Solvang Shoe Store (Copenhagen Drive and First Street). On the outskirts of Solvang, saddle up atThe Alisal Guest Ranch & Resortfor a luxe getaway’s worth of Instagrammable activities like horseback riding, golf, spa time, BBQ dinners and campfire moments.
The award-winning 2004 movie Sideways was filmed in numerous Santa Ynez Valley spots. But one of the film’s most famous settings is now the Sideways Inn, which also features one of the most memorable windmills in the “SYV”, outside of Solvang. Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, Sideways Inn’s sister property which adjoins the hotel’s grounds, is an Instagram dream – from the life-size rhino guarding one of the “glamping” sections of the funtastic vacation destination, to the row of meticulously-restored vintage and Airstream travel trailers, to the variety of themed cottages and tents (Surf, Wine, Brewhaus, National Park, Safari and Tiki), to the private, gated Santa Ynez Guest Ranch and the cinematic luxury getaway that it provides. More Sideways movie nostalgia may be found at the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant, now accompanied by next-door wine tasting location extraordinaire, for chef/restaurateur, Frank Ostini’s, and Gray Hartley’s Hitching Post Wines. Neighboring the twin Hitching Post properties, OstrichLand USA provides eponymously-opportune memories, photographic and otherwise, via its fine-feathered residents.
Save some iPhone memory for Buellton’s picture-perfect roadside history, a grand portion of which is captured in the private collection of the family-owned Mendenhall Museum of Gasoline Pumps & Petroliana. Equally as intriguing to highway travel history buffs, is the often-posted Pea Soup Andersen’s – whose billboards up and down Highway 101 paint the way to the storied rest stop.
Let’s get to the root of the matter.
What would a Santa Barbara wine country experience be, without a visit to the vines that produce the region’s awarded wines? Best bets for essay-caliber vineyard photos may be found throughout the Santa Ynez Valley, with some newer entrants to the pictorial game – plus some classic viticulture standbys – stretching from Lompoc to Los Olivos: Melville Vineyards & Winery, Spear Vineyards & Winery, Dierberg Star Lane Vineyards, Brick Barn Wine Estate,Demetria Estate, and Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards, to name just a few.
Wine and Halloween go hand-in-hand, right? But if you’re looking for something craftier for the harvest season holidays – haunted, or otherwise – the Santa Ynez Valley also boasts other libations. A quick Los Angeles getaway (we’re just two hours north) or a weekend jaunt south of San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley’s six wine-drenched towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang, offer a variety of thirst-quenching experiences. And although these might speak to the 21-and-over set, activities for all ages may easily be ordered as a “back”. Here, you’ll find cocktails, beer and wine to suit nearly all tastes.
One Valley. Six Towns. Something for Everyone.
So visit our vineyards, hike our hills, dine in wine country, belly up to the bar…and get a room. With this many options for indulging, the Santa Ynez Valley is so much more than just a day trip.
Cemented in Highway 101 road trip history, industrious Buellton businesses are still accommodating weary travelers in need of a little refreshment. At Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Buellton Taproom & Barrelworks, suds are offered up to lucky locals and visitors as limited releases, liquid collaborations, and beer-world famous wild ales, while the on-site Taproom Restaurant provides nourishment in the form of beer-braised short rib and other gastro-pub fare.
On the aptly-named “Industrial Way”, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.’s Buellton Taproom, the mothership for the California Central Coast-based craft brewery, displays a dizzying list of draft beers; accompanying eats from The Kitchen, including kid-friendly bites; and an outdoor beer garden with distractions for the minis. Next door, at Santa Barbara County’s first distillery since prohibition, Ascendant Spirits offers tours and tastings at their facility where whiskeys, vodkas and gins spring to life. Just up the street, DorWood Distillery handcrafts small-batch Vodka, Malt Whiskey, Gin and Limoncello, featuring a lounge-like area for tasting experiences.
Nightcaps don’t get any better than those had at hotels, and at the Sideways Inn’s own Sideways Lounge, after-dinner / before-bed Lavender Lemondrops come crafted with care, alongside a selection of local beers and wines. The bar’s well-appointed interior spills out to open-air seating areas and an adjacent fire pit, the perfect setting to ease you into your overnight, outdoor adventure at adjoining lodging property, Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground. Additional, modern hotel mixology may be found at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott’s 555 Lounge & Bar, which also features an expansive, fire-pitted outdoor area for cozying up with those Cosmos.
When you think “Viking”, does beer come to mind? If you’re in Solvang, it should. Solvang Brewing Company’s first taproom, co-founded by a fourth-generation, Solvang-born Danish descendant, serves up proprietary ales only available within close proximity to the Santa Ynez Valley. “Solvang Brew Co.” also holds a full bar, outdoor seating areas beneath the building’s famous windmill, and a kitchen turning out hearty pub grub.
Home-brew aficionados and DIY’ers frequent home brewing boutique, Valley Brewers, which comes complete with a speakeasy craft beer bar, “The Backroom”, accessed through a “bookshelf” door. The Good Life, “a craft beer & wine cellar”, pours a deliberate list of local and Central Coast wines, but also surprises with an impressive Californian beer selection, plus a few Danish imports for good “skål”. The Landsby hotel’s Lobby Lounge beckons tipplers with house-made shrubs, revolving cocktail specials, and a daily Happy Hour favorited by locals in-the-know. Hill Haven Provisions, the restaurant/wine, and cocktail bar combo tucked away in Solvang’s Atterdag Square, sports one of the Santa Ynez Valley’s top mixologists and a curated drinks list to match. The bar at Hotel Corque’s Root 246 proves a particularly worthy spot to lounge, with a sleek cocktail menu and precise listing of wine and beer. When in wine country, do as the tikis do and head to the hidden tiki bar at the back of the Sort This Out Cellars wine tasting room. In the tiny, tropical oasis of High Roller Tiki Lounge, you’ll find thoughtfully-made tiki “wine-tails” served with a wealth of tiki history, knowledge and atmosphere. Custom-made, collectible tiki mugs cradle tiki drinks with nods to the bar’s Danish location, such as the “Solvang Siren”, “Bloody Viking” and the “Suffering Scandinavian”.
One of Santa Barbara County’s premier drinks menus is housed at S.Y. Kitchen, where barkeeps stir up seasonal, market-fresh cocktails like the “Slow Drip Old Fashioned” with house-made bitters; “Barrel Aged Vieux Carré”, appropriately including absinthe; and the mescal-based “El Viejo”, with gusano powder. Get some play-time with that drink at one – or all five – of the Chumash Casino Resort’s bars and lounges, from the mid-casino floor “Center Bar”; to the chill Hotel Lobby Bar; to the high-stakes, premium spirits High Limit Bar; to the laid-back, poolside rooftop bar; to the Lounge at the Resort’s AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Willows restaurant.
Los Olivos’ über-luxe Fess Parker Wine Country Inn sports The Bear and Star restaurant and bar, where “refined ranch” cuisine also comes in fluid form, with ranch-to-glass cocktails served in an equally refined hardwood and leather-bound setting.
Whiskey rules at the 1880 Union Saloon, a true bar fixture in Los Alamos’ Old West history. The once-stagecoach stop’s cocktail menu is divided into two, “Whiskey” and “Non-Whiskey”, with the 1880’s takes on classic drinks like the Sazerac (“New Orleans signature primed by a St. George Absinthe rinse, with Sazerac Rye Whiskey, organic sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters, smoked orange oils”), as well as Instagram-friendly pours like “The Sisco Kid” (“Monte Alban Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, pineapple-jalapeño shrub, fresh-pressed lime, smoked Maldon salt”). Beer, wine and the Central Coast’s famous tri-tip are also on the menu, along with other cowboy-appropriate delicacies like chicharrones.
Just down the main “strip” of Bell Street, PICO at the Los Alamos General Store checks all the boxes with a serious culinary-cred chef, an award-winning restaurant wine list, a 2,000-bottle wine shop, and a so-simple-it’s-genius, streamlined cocktail menu with drinks like their “Gin & Juice” (Dogwood Union Gin, lime juice, passion fruit, caraway simple), and the secretive “Chef’s Noble Manhattan” (Medley Bros. Bourbon, Amaro, chef’s secret concoction).
Preserved in mid-century time, the iconic Skyview Los Alamos motel’s décor and finishings overhaul included a hip re-do of the property’s on-site, hilltop restaurant and bar, “Norman” – which opens to a scenester pool deck and views of the hotel’s own vineyard, sloping down from Skyview’s perch above Highway 101. Norman’s cocktail menu sections include brunch-ready “Bubbles” (e.g., the “Sunrise”, made with Root Elixirs Strawberry-Lavender, lemon, champagne); “Refresh”, with a standout sipper in “Pineapple Express” (pineapple rum, Damoiseau rhum agricole, lime, sugar, CBD oil); “Garden” (like the “Sweet Pea V & T”, with sweet pea-infused vodka, Fever-Tree Tonic, citrus); and “Classica” (bonjour, “French 75”).
Experience fall in the Santa Ynez Valley. Our myriad of accommodations, personality-filled haunts – and clever craft cocktails – will warm your heart and soul, and fuel your wine country vacation memories. Book now, for your most spirited season, yet.
Weekends in the Santa Ynez Valley mean 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
With kid-friendly attractions, family-friendly wineries, and much to explore, the Santa Ynez Valley makes for a surprising family getaway
The terms “wine country” and “family friendly” don’t often go hand in hand. But the Santa Ynez Valley is no ordinary wine country destination — a rare place that is as appealing to families as it is to foodies and wine-lovers.
Now is often the time when parents begin to plan for a summer spent with the kids and search for an experience that meets the needs of everyone in the family: children, parents, and even grandparents included. Just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, a scenic four-hour jaunt from San Francisco, and 30 minutes from Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, the six distinct communities of the Santa Ynez Valley are such a place.
With more than 100 wineries, the Santa Ynez Valley is undeniably a playground for oenophiles both for its wines as well as the opportunity to taste them in a setting far less crowded than other similarly world-class wine destinations. And with wine inevitably comes food, and imaginative local chefs and the region’s deep agricultural roots combine to create a culinary scene steeped in the farm-to-table movement.
Beyond food and wine, the Santa Ynez Valley combines a fascinating and diverse history to explore, rolling hills that call to outdoor adventurists, and one-of-a kind attractions to offer a unique destination that is both educational and adventurous.
Below are just a few of the attractions that make the Santa Ynez Valley a surprisingly family-friendly destination:
Nature to explore: Hike rolling hills and take in the breathtaking vistas offered along hundreds of miles of Santa Ynez Valley trails, or visit an 80-foot waterfall at Nojoqui Falls Park. View native bald eagles, osprey, and hawks, or learn about the region’s cultural history, with boating and nature tours of Cachuma Lake.
The Valley by horseback: This is horse country, and there’s no better way to tap into Santa Ynez Valley’s Old West roots than with a horseback ride. With Vino Vaqueros, KAP Land & Cattle, Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Stables — just to name a few — SYV offers no shortage of opportunity to create a memory that everyone in the family will be sure to cherish.
Fun in the food we eat: Farm tours offer a window into what makes the Santa Ynez Valley the breadbasket of California’s Central Coast. Visit an olive farm such as Global Gardens and taste some of the most sought-after olive oils anywhere. Many of the Santa Ynez Valley’s wineries are more than just vineyards, too. Call wineries and tasting rooms ahead of your visit to find out whether they’re currently accepting guests of all ages to enjoy their properties. Or visit Clairmont Farms, an entirely organic lavender farm, for an altogether different experience.
Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at visitsyv.com, where families can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary.
About the Santa Ynez Valley:
Barely two hours from Los Angeles, a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, and just 30 minutes from Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, the Santa Ynez Valley still feels a world apart. With six distinct communities encompassing everything from classic California wine country to Northern European traditions to the very best of the Old West, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to endless possibilities. Here in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang visitors will find more than 100 wineries, incredible food, special events and a unique, rich heritage. For more information, including a complete listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go to VisitSYV.com.