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).
After hiking, head to New Frontiers grocery store to fuel up on a healthy breakfast. They have a hot oatmeal bar, juice blends like their Red Blast (Beet, apple, carrot, orange, kale, ginger), healthy drinks like their Green Smoothie (organic kale, banana, mango, coconut milk) and organic coffee/teas. While you’re there be sure to grab a few healthy snacks to take with you for the rest of your day.
Next, treat yourself to a private Vineyard Yoga Class at a winery with me for a sensory experience that allows you to absorb the beauty of this Valley, stretch out any tension in your body, and deeply relax your mind. You'll soak up some Vitamin D and connect to the earth beneath you--it's the ultimate antidote to modern, plugged-in living.
To keep the tranquil feelings going, book a massage or facial at Alisal Resort in Solvang for indulgent pampering. Their premium products and local ingredients are incorporated into each service. Bring a book and cozy up in front of their spa fireplace before your treatment.
Head to an early dinner at Full of Life Flatbread (they open at 5pm) where farm to table means your food was picked (or caught) that day. Look for their in-season specials which always reflect what’s growing at local farms. With salads like this: Monica’s Armenian Hokis Pomegranate Salad ~ From Monica and Gary’s Tree: Persimmon, Lime, Cumin, Garlic, Olea Farms Olive Oil, Cilantro. And pizzas like this that you'll be thinking about for days afterward: Red Kuri Squash and Chipolte Flatbread~ Olea Farm’s EVOO, Fresh Mozzarella, Pasilla Chili, Mallard Ranch Kiwi Salsa.
Start your day out with a breakfast that will fuel you through an active day with the hearty Garbage Omelet with homemade salsa at the Longhorn in Santa Ynez. It’s equal parts wild west and country diner.
Head to Lake Cachuma and rent a boat. Motor around all the fingers of the lake and bring binoculars to spot the various wildlife that are drawn to the lake. And if you’re into fishing, be sure to bring your pole and try your hand at catching a trout or bass. Once you’re back on dry land, hit some of the hiking trails around the lake to stretch your legs and explore the terrain.
Next, head up to Knapp’s Castle on East Camino Cielo Road where you’ll find the remains of a palatial estate that burned down 70-years ago. Park on the road and hike the short distance to for unparalleled views of the lake and Santa Ynez Valley amid the beautiful ruins. Be sure to bring your camera! And look on the lower side of the property for a big swing hung from a tree that will have you feeling like a big kid.
Take your appetite to Cold Spring Tavern for a stick-to-your ribs American meal at this famous stagecoach stop. Be sure to try their famous chili. If you’re there on a Sunday, they will have a live band playing and their well-known tri-tip BBQ being cooked by Big Tom.
Continue the adventure with a private afternoon horseback ride through the vineyards with Vino Vaqueros. After your scenic ride, you’ll be treated a glass of wine.
After your ride, stop by Lucky Hen Larder before they close (5pm) to pick up a box picnic for dinner. Grab a bottle of wine, a blanket, and head to Gaviota or Refguio Beach to watch the sunset while you enjoy your picnic on the sand. These parks do close once it’s dark, so plan accordingly.
FOOD & WINE
Begin your day with an order of Danish pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House in Solvang.
Wander the quaint streets of Solvang and grab chai latte (w/fresh ginger) or Blue Moon Milk Latte (with pure maple syrup) at Good Seed Coffee in Solvang.
With drinks in hand, take tour of the various Danish bakeries in town and pick up some goodies to take home. Be sure to try the Danish Waffles at Olsen’s Danish Bakery.
Start your wine tasting experience with a Blindfold Wine Tasting at Gainey Vineyard in their elegant cellar room. You’ll be challenged to taste wine in a new way using your other senses when blindfolded. A skilled guide will lead you through the experience where you’ll start by testing your sense of smell with various essences. A generous charcuterie board is in included in this elevated wine experience. Call the winery to book ahead.
Head into downtown Los Olivos to maximize your wine tasting in the afternoon and try wines at Stolpman Vineyards and Kaena (be sure to try their Grenache).
While in Los Olivos, wander over to Olive Hill Farm do an olive oil tasting. You’ll be treated a variety of oils and vinegars that are made locally. And if you want to really expand your knowledge of Olive Oil, visit Global Gardens just outside town.
For dinner, book a reservation at the Gathering Table for a culinary and social experience located in the Ballard Inn. This sophisticated dining experience melds Asian and French cuisine using locally sourced produce and meats. Be sure to try the Pan Fried Noodles with pork belly, bok choy, and egg if it’s on the menu. With a thoughtful wine list (including many local wineries), the perfect pairing will round out the experience. They book up quickly so be sure get a reservation.