The land here is fertile. Around every bend in the road, you’ll find a farm, an orchard, or a field of alfalfa. And there’s good reason for that—the history of agriculture in SYV dates back to the early 19th century with traditional agriculture like cattle, dairy, barley, beans, and sugar beets being grown here.
Although the diary and sugar beet farms are long gone, (the last dairy farm on Baseline closed in 2003), you will still see plenty of produce stands sprinkled around the valley offering an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
On a recent Saturday, I toured most of the local farmstands to peruse their summer bounty. It was a lovely way to spend the day and an activity I highly recommend if you love to cook (like I do) and are always hunting for exceptional produce. This would also make a fantastic non-drinking activity in the valley. A lot of the attention in our area is so focused on wine tasting that it is easy to forget there’s plenty to do here other than drink.
So get out there and enjoy some just-pulled-from-the-dirt goodness and support our local farmers!
If the pandemic has you feeling down and you are in need of a socially distant pick me up that won’t require you to drive too far or stray too far from home, then this list is for you. Our valley is overflowing with amazing opportunities to explore, inspiring places to adventure, and invigorating new experiences to try.
1. Wake up early and watch the sunrise along the Santa Ynez River for a soothing start to your day. Those of us who walk the river today do not think much about it, but in the 1940s the Santa Ynez River was thought to have the largest run of steelhead fish south of San Francisco Bay. Prior to the completion of Cachuma Dam in 1953, the steelhead run on the Santa Ynez River was estimated to be as high as 25,000 adults. You can access the river at various points throughout the valley, but the most popular spot to walk is off Alisal Road.
2. Buy a new book and read it in Hans Christian Anderson Park. Not sure what to read? Let our local bookstore The Book Loft select a book for you. Call them and let them know what you would like and pick it up on your way to the park. Or with prearrangement, they will deliver to homes in the Santa Ynez Valley Tuesday and Thursday 1-3 and Saturday 10-12. There is a delivery charge of $5.00 on purchases under $100.
One Day Itineraries
As a local who’s lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for 16-years, I’ve come to know all the of the towns/cities that make up this place in an intimate way. I’ve hiked every dusty trail, sought out the hidden culinary gems, combed the landscape, and tasted a lot of wine through the years. Weather you're local looking for a new way to experience the place you live, or if you're just visiting, there's something for everyone.
I’ve broken down the Perfect Days into categories depending on what kind of experience you’re after in our hamlet here on the Central Coast of California: wellness, adventure, and food/wine.
The best way to start your day of wellness is with a hike in Los Olivos on the Midland Trails. You can choose to summit the peak of Grass Mountain (rated difficult, bring lots of water) or take scenic trails like Lovers Loop that meander along the creek and take you up/down foothills (easy/moderate).
I've been plant-based for three years now, and while I love to cook, it's nice to enjoy someone else's creation from time to time. Even though there are no exclusively vegan or plant-based restaurants in the Santa Ynez Valley, there are still plenty of options for eating out in wine country if you know where to go and what to order.
So if you're a local who's looking for some healthier options or a visitor looking for what you can eat while you're in town, I've got you covered.
Here's my curated list of favorite plant-based vegan meals locally:
1. Petros Kafe in Solvang: The Super Veg Salad (no feta) and the lentil soup (no feta)
2. Café Dolce in Solvang: Dragon Fruit or Acai bowl with granola and fruit
3. Rudy's Mexican Food in Buellton: Fajita Burrito (no meat/no cheese), add guacamole, add black beans
4. Hitching Post II Lunch in Buellton: Enjoy the Beyond Meat vegan burger with smoked tomato mayo and eggplant jam while sipping on a glass of Pinot Noir and watching the ostriches run around next door
5. Hummingbird Café in Solvang: Roasted Pumpkin Coconut soup, Coconut Noodles w/Cashew sauce. Harold (the owner) will also create a custom meal for you if you let him know you don't eat meat.
Most of us are humming along through our daily life caught up in thoughts about what’s to come—where we’re going for lunch, the important meeting next week, the trip to Europe next year. Or we are thinking about that awkward thing we said at dinner last night, or remembering the relaxing beach day we had a month ago.
There is nothing wrong with projecting about the future or rehashing the past, but it means we are never really living fully in the NOW. The discord comes because our physical bodies are only alive in the present moment which means our body and mind are always in different places. To sync them up, use mindfulness practices. Doing these things won’t cost you anything, you can do them almost anywhere, and at any time. Even if you can only work in a few, you will be living more mindfully.
I love living in the Santa Ynez Valley and hardly ever tire of our bucolic landscape. But sometimes it's good to get out of town on a day trip and and have some other Central Coast adventures. So pile your kids into the car, and head out for a memorable day trip with the family. Google the activities I list to get directions, hours, costs, etc.
While I am a marketing consultant for a local winery and a yoga teacher, I am also, first and foremost, a Mom. While I love every part of living in the Santa Ynez Valley, keeping your kids entertained here over the summer here can be a challenge. Here’s a list I’ve compiled over the years of 33 things you can do that are kid-friendly in our little slice of paradise.
Spring has sprung in the Santa Ynez Valley and it’s time to come out of your winter hibernation and enjoy the outdoors. Our Valley is full of day hike options that feature all kinds of terrain from easy to difficult. Here’s a roundup of some of the local day hikes: