When you imagine “vacation”, what does your next dream adventure look like? Maybe it involves a beach with piña coladas, maybe it’s strolling through cobblestone streets in Europe, or maybe it a mountain/lake situation; we could go on and on considering the dreamiest of options, but if there’s one thing all of these grand ideas share it’s that they are without a doubt intended to be memorable experiences. The best and most enjoyable vacations I’ve found tend to happen upon us when we need them most. As fun and fulfilling life in LA can be for most of us, the hustle and bustle of it all can just as easily wear you down and challenge your identity. I’ve found the “weekend getaway” to be a crucial component to surviving life at such a fast pace and all the while making the journey that much more rich and rewarding.
My recent weekend getaway to The Alisal Guest Ranch Resort was one of those adventures, one of those mind/body/soul vacations, I will truly never forget. What made it so memorable is due in part because I was in desperate need of some “me time”, but most of it I owe to the truly magical and yet completely authentic experience Alisal offers. If we’re so fortunate in life, we get to take vacations that change us for the better in an instance. You head home feeling like you’ve got a whole new perspective on things, you feel whole, and most importantly you feel all the more alive. To some Alisal might just be a great little 10,000 acre ranch style resort with tons of great outdoor activities, but to me and I’m sure any other past guests, Alisal is therapeutic.
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Located in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, just 2 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles, Alisal sits tucked away hidden within Santa Ynez Valley. The Alisal has been hosting guests since 1946 and their old Western flair and real ranch feel has clearly not failed them yet. The ranch offers amenities and activities such as not one, but two, 18 hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, fine dining, a pool, a new state of the art spa, and most importantly horses in which to explore the miles of trails located on the property. 100 horses to be exact. The ranch itself is large enough so that all 73 of the recently updated rooms available are single studios and suites. To add to the “California Country” feel, you’ll find that not only will you have limited service, but you won’t find any TV’s or telephones in your room either. You’ll also find that you’ll live to tell the tale, and perhaps even come to appreciate disconnecting for a bit.
The whole meaning behind the Alisal experience is to connect with the important things in life we may take for granted and disconnect from this decades distractions. The most impactful and meaningful connections you’ll find at the ranch will lie with your experience with the would, nature, and people around you. I’m the last person you could consider nature-y; camping is a form or torture in my eyes, but in a setting like this one, seeing and feeling things via horseback in many instances, was nothing short of grounding. My LA problems seemed so arbitrary once I’d officially been in the presence of a real live bald eagle and galloped (or “loped” as the wranglers call it) through fields of wild mustard. If I wasn’t feeling all the feels while trail riding, I was feeling them while sipping a glass of wine in the Oak Room Bar next to a real log lit fire. When it wasn’t that it was the taste of an incredible meal I was treated to every night, or the relaxing spa treatments I’d had in the afternoons.
Not one bit of any of those three days at Alisal were taken for granted; I left that ranch somewhat sad to enter reality yet so immensely and overwhelmingly grateful I’d gotten to experience a different form of reality – the reality that involves nothing except what is actually tangible or directly in plain sight. We could all use vacations or weekend getaways like that, and when you’re ready for it, Alisal is ready too.