Head over the mountains to the Santa Ynez Valley to explore Santa Barbara County’s wine country — a short drive but worlds apart from urban energy.
The native Chumash lived here for thousands of years before the Spaniards arrived. They established Mission Santa Ines in 1804, and the area’s modern named derived from that into Santa Ynez. Six distinct communities occupy the valley: Solvang, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Ballard, Los Olivos and Los Alamos. Vineyards, thoroughbred horse farms and nearly 100 world-class wineries and tasting rooms speckle the tranquil valley. Apart from vines and wine, the valley also has excellent art galleries and unusual shops, and top-notch restaurants serving fresh farm-to-table meals.
If you’re into outdoor adventuring, you’ll find umpteen options in the Los Padres National Forest recreational areas along the Santa Ynez River. Don’t miss the eagle and wildlife tours at nearby Cachuma Lake.
Contact the Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association for maps and details on what to see and do. You can also pick up information at the Solvang Visitors Center.