Traveler’s Guide to Santa Ynez Valley

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Wineries like Sunstone Vineyards and Winery, Fess Parker Winery, and Bridlewood Estate Winery have put Santa Ynez Valley on the map. Not to mention it was featured in the hit Academy Award winning movie Sideways. If you’re planning to explore the Santa Ynez Wine Trail, we’ve compiled a list of places to stay, places to eat, and things to do that will make your trip memorable.

Where to Stay

Image Source: Yelp

Hotel Corque
400 Alisal Rd
Solvang, CA 93463
(800) 624-5572
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 531 reviews
Check availability

Luxurious, rustic, and modern, Hotel Corque is a great place to stay during your trip to Santa Ynez Valley. Located in the Danish town of Solvang, Hotel Corque is a premier four diamond boutique hotel that will help you relax before your day of wine tasting and exploration. You can eat at the hotel’s restaurant Root 246 or venture out into town and explore the many danish bakeries and restaurants in the area. Insider tip: Looking for a room with a view? Ask for a top floor room at the rear of the hotel overlooking the pool.

Image Source: Mirabelle Inn

Mirabelle Inn
409 1st St
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-1703
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 222 reviews
Check availability

Looking for a hotel that has a warm, quaint, European ambiance? Mirabelle Inn is the perfect pick for a romantic getaway. Located in downtown Solvang, Mirabelle Inn is known for its elegance and hospitality with extras like flowers in the room, chocolates, and special occasion cakes. Breakfast is provided on the patio and wine and cheese are served in the afternoon. Sample some of the Santa Ynez Valley wines in the restaurant for dinner along with rare vintage selections from Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Insider tip: The Solvang Festival Theater, located one block away, is worth checking out after a day of wine tasting. Plays such as Shrek, The Glass Menagerie, and Sense and Sensibility run year around.

Image Source: Yelp

Santa Ynez Inn
3627 Sagunto St
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(805) 688-5588
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 294 reviews
Check availability

Stay closer to the wineries at the Santa Ynez Inn. Luxurious, sophisticated, cozy yet spacious, this hotel focuses on providing you a relaxing and peaceful stay. Splurge for the Romance Package which includes: a welcome bottle of chilled sparkling wine, chocolate covered strawberries, a lovely guest room for two, a full American Breakfast cooked to order, evening wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Insider tip: The courtyard rooms provide a balcony where you can sit outside and enjoy lovely live jazz music from the restaurant across the garden.

Where to Eat

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Sides Hardware and Shoes – A Brothers Restaurant
2375 Alamo Pintado Ave
Los Olivos, CA 93441
(805) 688-4820
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 249 reviews
Reservations: Recommended

Located in the small town of Los Olivos, Matt and Jeff Nichols opened the third Brothers Restaurant in the historic Sides Hardware and Shoes building. With its fresh farm to table fare, the brothers are well known for their “made from scratch” cuisine such as pork belly tacos, the fried chicken sandwich, and The Brothers Burger. Insider tip: For dessert, enjoy a wine cupcake at Enjoy! Cupcakes. Located down the street on Main in the Saarloos and Sons tasting room, you’ll find exquisite flavors such as Caramel Pinot, Blueberry Chardonnay, and Chocolate Blackberry Syrah.

Image Source: Yelp

Industrial Eats
181 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427
(805) 688-8807
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 135 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Want to up your foodie game? Try Industrial Eats, but don’t let the casual, communal dining style fool you. This little gem rivals any restaurant in Los Angeles or San Francisco. From the beef tongue pastrami reuben sandwich to the gorgonzola apple bacon pizza and the white shrimp pancetta with chile and garlic, you are sure to find something to satisfy your appetite. Insider tip: Industrial Eats offers two-day butcher classes for a hands on experience in breaking down your own pig.

Image Source: Yelp

S.Y. Kitchen
1110 Faraday St
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(805) 691-9794
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 85 reviews
Reservations: Recommended

One of the best little Italian restaurants in the area, S.Y. Kitchen offers an upscale ambiance both inside and outside its Italian-inspired California barn setting. S.Y. Kitchen offers fresh fare like grilled prawns, wild mushroom pappardelle, margherita di bufala pizza, and t-bone truffle sliders. Save room for desserts like homemade vanilla panna cotta and almond chocolate cake. Insider tip: Looking for a cocktail instead of a glass of wine? Try the “Old Fashioned Therapy” made with homemade bitters.

Things to Do

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Chumash Casino
3400 E Hwy 246
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(800) 248-6274
TripAdvisor: 3.5 stars, 139 reviews

If you’re looking for an alternative to the peace and quiet of the wineries and tasting rooms, Chumash Casino and Resort is the place to go. Recently remodeled, the casino provides slots, tables, bingo, and much more. If it’s not gambling you’re seeking, check out the live entertainment acts that pass through such as Def Leppard, Air Supply, Little River Band, and Kansas to name a few. Fine and casual dining options are available 24 hours a day. Insider tip: Chumash Casino offers a shuttle service starting in LA County and running all the way up to San Luis Obispo. It’s perfect if you don’t want to drive your own vehicle.

Image Source: Yelp

Vino Vaqueros Horseback Riding
Estelle Vineyards
2178 Mora Ave
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(805) 944-0493
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 6 reviews

Looking for an alternative to traditional wine tasting? Do it on the back of a horse. Sign up for the Wine and Ride package at Estelle Vineyards where you will ride through the ranch and vineyards and then taste a glass of Estelle wine back at the barn. Or splurge on the Ride, Dine, and Wine package at Fess Parker Vineyards. It includes a ride through the vineyards followed by a tasting of Fess Parker wines and a gourmet meal of locally made sandwiches and salads. All levels and ages are welcome. Insider tip: After your ride, head over to the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Janeway-Parks Carriage House where you will learn the rich history of the area and how it became one of the premier wine destinations in the world.

Image Source: Yelp

Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours
1693 Mission Dr
Solvang, CA 93463
(888) 557-8687
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 22 reviews

Cycling is another fantastic way to tour the Santa Ynez Valley. Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours offers packages to accommodate all types of riders—from beginner to experienced. Each tour provides gorgeous views of the valley along with olive oil and wine tastings at different tasting rooms. Choose the Wine, Dine, and Unwind package and you’ll be treated to a relaxing massage at Terra Massage and lunch or dinner across the street at the Vineyard House after a morning of cycling. Insider tip: If cycling isn’t your cup of tea, the company provides hiking packages as well.

Image Source: Yelp

Gypsy Art Studios
3001 Santa Ynez Ave
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
(805) 990-2105
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 5 reviews

Looking to take home a souvenir that will complement your collection of wine? Gypsy Art Studios can help. With fresh air painting out in the vineyards, you will create your own picture of the views and scenery. Skill level isn’t important, but a good attitude and a glass of wine are required. Relaxing, fun, and creative, you might actually find your inner Picasso. Insider tip: If you don’t see a class on the calendar, you can schedule a private painting session.

While the Santa Ynez Valley is becoming well known for its wineries, it’s also becoming very well known for its hospitality. If you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, or just simply driving on the 101, make time to visit the Santa Ynez Valley.