The Santa Ynez Valley just 45 minutes by car from Santa Barbara, is an essential visit for those who want to make a magical trip visiting villages and wineries in the area.
Leave Santa Barbara and take the road that leads to Santa Ynez Valley through the San Marcos Pass Road, a lovely and incredibly scenic back road of Highway 101, be aware that the driving conditions are not for everyone. Is a steep winding pass, sometimes foggy, better and recommended to drive during daylight.
If you plan to spend a long weekend in the area, three days and two nights, the best is to make base in one of the villages of the valley to visit the surroundings and tour the wineries. There are six villages in the valley of Santa Ynez, being Santa Ynez the largest, located at the south entrance of the valley and Ballard the smallest, the distance between the villages is not big, nor the wineries are far apart. There is a great variety of B&B in the area, you only have to choose the one that best suits your tastes and pocket
THE ALAMO MOTEL Los Alamos. The town of Los Alamos is my first choice, is a small, very nice cool place, has good restaurants and a very relaxed atmosphere, is one of the least tourist in the area. The motel offers a very good value for money and the town of Los Olivos, my second choice is not far away, just a 13 minute drive.
FESS PARKER WINE COUNTRY INN. Los Olivos. The only hotel in town, the Fess Parker is a top class choice for wine lovers offering luxe accommodations, an award winning restaurant and wine tasting on site. Los Olivos is a charming small village with lots of wine tasting rooms, shopping, antiques and good restaurants along the Main Street and side streets
BALLARD INN A romantic B&B in Ballard, the smallest town in the region with only 467 inhabitants.
FORFRIENDS INN. A wine country boutique B&B in Santa Ynez, has 8 rooms that can be booked separately or in groups of friends or family.
SANTA YNEZ INN Elegant B&B in Santa Ynez offering gourmet breakfast, wine hour, and late tea & cookies.
THE LANDSBY. European style hotel, clean contemporary design, located in the heart of Solvang. Solvang was founded in 1911 and is an authentically Danish-American town, Entering Solvang is like entering any village in Denmark. A nice town to stop by and take a look of the Danish farm-style architecture and windmills and taste some of danish cuisine in any of the bakeries and restaurants nearby.
Street market in Solvang
There are many options of wineries and wine tasting rooms to visit in the Santa Ynez Valley, you may consider to book a guided tour or explore the wine tasting routes on your own. The wine region of Santa Ynez is by far the largest AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the region, having the highest concentration of vineyards in California’s Santa Barbara County, over 60 different varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, and more.
The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail represents, supports and promotes 14 wineries and tasting rooms along Foxen Canyon Road. This 30 mile road winds from Los Olivos to Santa Maria and is home to some of the most accomplished winemakers in California.