Santa Ynez Valley hit the map in 2004 when the movie Sideways was released. It is the perfect escape for a long weekend of wine tasting! The Valley is in the Central Coastline of California 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara. There are 80+ vineyards in the Valley and it is home to the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. The Valley includes the quaint towns of Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos and Los Olivos. Each town has its own personality and wine tasting rooms. It is mandatory to taste the pinot noir and toast Miles and Jack when visiting the area. I made that part up; it is fun to watch the movie before you go.
This entire valley is scattered with vineyards. You will have no problem locating them. You may want to start on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Your hotel will be able to give you directions from your location. Make sure to spend some time exploring the towns and tasting rooms as well.
Solvang is known as the “Danish capital of America”. There are several wine tasting rooms throughout the area. Shop and take pictures in front of the many windmills. Stop in the Hans Christian Anderson Museum and see his statue in Solvang Park. Be sure to try aebleskiver from the Solvang Restaurant’s walk up window (round pancake balls with strawberry syrup – so good). Also, be sure to stop in Mortensen’s and Olsen’s Danish Bakeries. Just plan on eating the whole time you are there. I love windmills. I love Danish Bakeries. I love Solvang.
Quicksilver Ranch is a little farm with miniature horses. They are adorable. The Ranch is open from 10am and 3pm and it is free. The address is 1555 Alamo Pintado Rd. Don’t go beyond the gates even if the gate is open; they get very angry about this and you will embarrass your friend!
Buellton is the home of split pea soup. Seriously. Try it at Split Pea Andersons. Oh, and Buellton also has a huge part in the Sideways movie. You will find tasting rooms, the Hitching Post, the Days Inn windmill hotel and OstrichLand USA in Buellton.
There are 24+ tasting rooms in Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto. After your tastings explore the city. Lompoc is known as the “City of Murals in the Valley of Flowers”. There are 40+ murals located in Lompoc’s historic old town area. Walk over to South H Street to see the canopy of Italian Stone Pines worth over 3 million dollars. There is a Farmers Market every Friday on the corner of Ocean Avenue & I Street and The Famous Lompoc BBQ is on most Saturdays along H Street.
If you are a fan of the Sideways movie, Ocean Lanes Bowling Alley is in Lompoc. There are not many flower fields left in the area, but there are a few. May through early September you will see patches of flowers west of Old Town Lompoc along Central Avenue and Union Sugar Avenue and Ocean Avenue where it crosses Floradale Avenue. The Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary is also in Lompoc. I was not able to visit and was disappointed. Check out their site, they offer tours and photo safaris.
Santa Ynez is a small western town with a serious honky-tonk saloon. The Maverick Saloon is located on Sagunto Street and is worth a stop for a beer, BBQ and possibly a line dance or two. The Chumash Casino Resort is nearby, check their entertainment for upcoming concerts.
Los Alamos is a very old western town. If you are close by, drive down Bell Street to see a few historical buildings and stop in the 1880 Union Hotel Saloon for a beer.
Los Olivos is a super cute town with 25+ tasting rooms. The town is also well known for its olive oil. It is a fun place to wander and shop. Be sure to stop at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant to see the wine wall of over 300 bottles. Another great stop is Saarloos & Sons; they pair wine with cupcakes! Brilliant! If you have had your fill of wine there are some adorable coffee shops. Clairmont Farms Lavender is a small lavender farm located nearby at 2480 Roblar Ave.
Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch is located in the area. If you are curious the address is 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road. I may have found the gate, but, as expected, couldn’t see ANYTHING. It was fun searching.
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