Growing up in California the allure of a day trip was always calling. Be it ocean, mountains or exploring some little city's Main Street for the best shopping or must have bite.
As an adult, the allure is still always there. Hop in the car and within a couple hours you can be somewhere completely new.
Lately the draw has been "up north". Montecito, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez/Los Olivos.
We love starting our trips early. Getting in the car when the morning air is cold, and fog from the ocean is dense, requiring a sweater. We make sure the gas tank is full and a playlist is ready. Toss in a toothbrush, face wash, oil, sunblock, hat and sunnies, and we're ready for an adventure.
We always begin these trips with an ice coffee! Wind in our hair, music blaring, we yearn to get to the point in our drive we call the point of no return because it feels closer to our destination than home!
Heading up the 101 north, once you pass Calabasas you begin to feel like you are stretching your legs, letting go, and the "catching up" really picks up.
Once we exit to take the San Marcos pass, the excitement builds and the decision making begins. Where to first? We know we want to enjoy ourselves but not overdo. A balance of indulgence and self-care.
A stop at Santa Ynez Café. will be first, for a light breakfast and maybe... another ice coffee.
After, we head to New Frontiers Natural Marketplace to stock up on all the picnic treats. Once we fill up on good-for-you-goodies we head to our favorite, little, charming winery.
Sunstone Winery is the place dreams are made of. Always sun kissed you feel like you are transported to some beautiful European countryside villa. Rosemary bushes, twisted oaks, cascading climbing roses, picnic tables and umbrellas… It is a dream for a picnic. We grab a bottle of rosé and sit and enjoy our sips and treats. Languidly we visit at our favorite spot.. the chairs near the fountain, of course.
But now, after sipping rosé, we need to move our bodies. So we hydrate with our BKR bottles, and head to Nojoqui Falls. A lush drive through green hills, twisty oak trees and cows grazing in the pastures. Once there we grab a snack we picked up earlier, our cell for pictures and our water. The hike is only 10 minutes and very easy. Tiny creeks, overgrown trees and greenery make it feel like you are escaping to some far off place. The falls are sweet. The sound of the water trickling over the earth is tranquil. As we head back down, we stop for some hydration and to enjoy our snack at one of the little picnic tables along the way.
At this point we are ready for something more substantial. Something like a late lunch at Leonardos. A glass of pink cava and shared pizza is what we go for. May we suggest the Donna Sophia, Italian sausage, rapini and hot peppers. Yes please.
Off to the next adventure. The lavender farm. Clairmont Farm for 100% organic lavender. The smell of lavender under the warm sun is magic. Strolling through the fields we feel like life is good. And we might need to bring home a huge bag of dried lavender to use in sachets for our closet, sachets in our dryer, homemade scrubs, coffee lattes, and baking.
At this point we are so close to Los Olivos we can’t not go to our fave little dreamy hotel spot. Fess Parker. If you have never been to Los Olivos it is dreamy. We park on the little Main Street right in front of the hotel and head in to sit at the bar. Our favorite server is there, Suze! We ask for sparkling water, ice and lime. And an order of their brussel sprouts.
We know what we need now… icecream. Homemade from Red Barn in Santa Ynez. That and more water! Hydrate friends! With flavors like brown butter, cinnamon or coconut sorbet we know we will find exactly what we want.
Time to think about heading home, but one last stop to be made. Cold Springs Tavern. Live music on the weekends is a big draw. Parking can be tricky, on the side of the road. But this is an adventure right? Check their website for the lineup and hours that music is playing. It usually ends about 8pm. Perfect to grab a drink and snack before we head home!
Santa Ynez Billiards and Café- yummy fatoush salad and tri-tip sandwhiches. And we love Matt the bartender!
Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez for a little fun on the slots
Happy Canyon for the drive at sunset and sage foraging
Paula's in Solvang for fresh squeezed orange juice
The Copenhagen House in Santa Ynez for a great selection of Danish homeware and amazing golden topaz and amber
The Lansby in Solvang for cocktail hour
Do you have any favorites in the Santa Ynez Valley area? We'd love to hear them!