The Santa Ynez Valley is without a doubt one of my favorite places in all of California. With how often I find myself in “The SYV,” at this point, I fully consider myself an “honorary resident.” Someday in the future, I’d like to think I’ll make it official, but until then, it’ll always be my personal favorite place to escape.


Whether it’s for an adventure in wine tasting, a culinary tour, or just a change of scenery, the Santa Ynez Valley has so much to offer. Every town that makes up the Santa Ynez Valley has its own flavor and charm, and I have my reasons for loving each and every single one of them. Besides the food, wine, scenic beauty, rich history, and incredible hospitality, the thing that always has me coming back truly is the community and overall sense of “ease.” Whether you just want to day trip or stay a little longer, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to SYV. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at each location…but until then, cheers to great wine, great food, and the stunning sights that make up this charming and one-of-a-kind valley on the Central Coast!









  • The Santa Ynez Valley (located in Santa Barbara County)  is about 2-3 hours North of LA off the 101. If you’re coming from LA it’s definitely easiest to drive. If you’re coming from further away you can fly into either the Santa Barbara Airport or the San Luis Obispo airport (both are pretty small but you might get lucky)
  • The main towns that make up the SYV are Los Alamos, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Ballard, Los Olivos, and Buellton. It won’t take you more than 20 mins to get from one town to another as everything is pretty close in proximity. Some wineries can be a bit more of a drive than from any of the town centers but traffic really isn’t a thing around these parts, fortunately. Just be sure to plan a little ahead!
  • The Santa Ynez Valley is an area known for producing some amazing California wines, especially Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rhone varietals. There are well over 100 different wineries in the area that are open to the public.
  • The food scene in SYV is really starting to take off, but this is an area worth coming to for the culinary culture alone. Right now I can confidently say that a number of my favorite restaurants call the Central Coast home.






  • Have a Designated Driver – Santa Ynez Valley is home to some of the best wine tasting in the state, and while places like Los Olivos and Solvang make it easy to walk from place to place, other vineyards require some driving. Since Uber (and cell service!) can be pretty scarce in the Valley, try to plan ahead with transportation. 
  • Stay at least 2 Nights – Though it is definitely possible to do a day trip to Santa Ynez Valley (at least from Los Angeles), I highly recommend staying for at least two nights since there are so many different towns to see and explore – not to mention so much to eat!
  • Don’t Skip on the Bakeries – Between all of the amazing Danish bakeries in Solvang to Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos, Santa Ynez Valley is not the place to skimp on the carbs. 
  • Bring Comfy Shoes – Santa Ynez Valley is pretty laid back, and while there are definitely some fancier dinner spots where you can dress up, people here tend to keep it casual. Since you’ll probably spend your days doing a lot of walking, definitely pack some comfy sneakers. 
  • Plan for Extra Downtime – Even if you are the type of traveler who likes to have a packed itinerary, you’ll for sure want to leave some gaps in your schedule. Whether you need a nap in the middle of the day after wine tasting or you simply want to check out some of the famous spots from my favorite movie Sideways, give yourself some downtime during your stay.





Los Alamos, also fondly referred to as “little LA,” is definitely the quirkiest, coolest (in my opinion), and dare I say “hippest” town in the SYV. Bell St (the main part of town) looks a bit like something out of an old Western film but is made up of some of the best restaurants, wine tasting, vintage shopping, and hotels in the valley. Los Alamos was my gateway drug into The SYV and it’s always my suggestion for a good place to dip your toes! 



  • Skyview Los Alamos – Retro motel vibes with modern amenities
  • Alamo Motel – Southwestern style meets wine country, stunning rooms (book one with a clawfoot tub!)
  • The Victorian – Elegant Victorian mansion from 1864
  • Bodega House – Adorable and airy Airbnb, walking distance to everything on Bell Street



  • Bell’s – Michelin-starred French bistro open for lunch and dinner, an absolute must
  • Full of Life Flatbread – Amazing flatbreads that change weekly, modern and artsy interior
  • Bob’s Well Bread – Best bread/pastries/breakfast in the valley, sesame sourdough is a must!
  • Norman’s – Hip spot at the Skyview, great for brunch or dinner
  • Maker’s Son – Old gas station turned chef-driven eatery, locally sourced meats, fish, and produce
  • Pico – Cozy patio, seasonal menu that constantly changes based on local ingredients, a bit of a romantic vibe
  • Plenty on Bell – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, casual yet delicious 
  • Dim Sama – Amazing dim sum pop-up inside Babi’s Beer Emporium/Casa Dumetz  



  • Casa Dumetz – Female-owned and run winery, great patio/tasting room on Bell, hands down my favorite wines in the valley, give Sonja a big hug for me
  • Bodega – Chic, farmhouse-style tasting room, amazing wines, stunning outdoor space, great for families or big parties
  • Lo-Fi Wines – Lower alcohol and clean wines with no additives 
  • Lumen Wines – Connected to Pico, specializes in cool climate wines



  • Sisters Gifts & Home – Antique and vintage finds, one-of-a-kind selection
  • Depot Mall – Massive selection of antiques, could spend hours here
  • Elder Flat Farm Store – Open Thurs-Sat, fresh produce and florals, gourmet goods and housewares
  • Campover – Chic, desert-inspired store, adorable home accessories


FOR A DEEPER DIVE INTO LOS ALAMOS: “The Getaway Guide To: Los Alamos” 






Solvang is a picturesque Dutch town that looks like something straight out of a Hallmark movie. From the traditional Danish architecture to the adorable souvenir shops, Solvang transports you to the middle of a fairytale – which to me, gives “Disneyland energy.” Take that as you will. My favorite thing about Solvang is that if you stay in the main part of town, you can walk almost everywhere. It’s arguably the busiest town in the valley and can get pretty packed on weekends or around holidays, but it’s certainly an area worth seeing. (Pro-tip: Do NOT leave without ordering some aebleskivers from one of the many bakeries!)



  • Alisal Guest Ranch – Upscale Dude Ranch, my favorite place to stay in Santa Ynez Valley
  • Hotel Ynez – Charming, cozy, quaint, sister property to the Skyview Motel in Los Alamos, away from the business of downtown Solvang
  • The Landsby – Modern style in the heart of Solvang, stylish Scandi aesthetic and cozy setting
  • Hotel Corque – Traditional hotel, old-school charm
  • The Mirabelle Inn – Boutique accommodation, traditional Danish architecture 
  • The Winston – One-of-a-kind “contactless” hotel, each room has a different style and aesthetic



  • Coast Range – Old school vibe with sleek, private booths, upscale seafood and steak
  • Peasants Feast – Bright restaurant serving gourmet level comfort food like cheeseburgers and great beer/wine
  • Toscana – Delicious traditional Italian food and pizza
  • First & Oak – Inside Mirabelle Inn, tapas-style California cuisine, one of my favorites
  • Ramen Kotori – Surprisingly amazing ramen, great for when your taste buds get tired of bread and cheese
  • Leonardo’s – Authentic Italian, family-style food, great pizza 
  • Callioux Cheese Shop – Local cheeses and artisan crackers, jams, meats
  • Good Seed Coffee – Amazing coffee and pastries, great way to start the day
  • Succulent Cafe – Great patio for people-watching, American cuisine for breakfast or dinner
  • The Solvang Bakery – Picturesque bakery filled with tasty treats and over-the-top decor, a must see
  • Sear Steakhouse – Juicy steaks from a family-owned farm, blends upscale steakhouse with casual country vibe
  • Mad & Vin – California cuisine in a modern setting, also a stunning bar with great cocktails, in the Landsby



  • High Roller Tiki – Tiki bar, liquor alternative cocktails, craft beer
  • Vaquero Bar – part of Coast Range restaurant, great cocktails, open late by SYV standards, arguably my favorite bar in the valley
  • Alma Rosa – Contemporary tasting room with outdoor fire pits, one of my favorite wineries 
  • Solvang Brewing Co. – Great for those who love beer or need a break from wine
  • Crawford Family Wines – Charming and clean tasting room with amazing local wines
  • Dana V Wines – Glamorous and feminine tasting room, different from the other wineries in Solvang



  • Shopping – Antique stores, souvenirs, boutique clothing shops; Book Loft and Heritage Goods Supply are two musts
  • Museums – Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, Hans Christian Andersen Museum, and others 
  • Bike Ride – Biking through Solvang looks like something straight out of a fairytale, great way to get from place to place quickly 
  • Horseback Riding – Feels like riding through the Italian countryside, great way to connect with nature, hosted by Alisal Ranch and several others


FOR A DEEPER DIVE INTO SOLVANG: “The Getaway Guide To: Solvang”






Santa Ynez (not to be confused with the entire Santa Ynez Valley) and Ballard are more quaint and low-key parts of the valley. That being said, if you are looking to do some stellar shopping, Santa Ynez is by far my favorite place. Accommodations here are a bit more limited, but the hotels and Airbnbs that exist are incredible!



  • Santa Ynez Inn – Four-Diamond rated hotel, luxury meets simplicity, evening wine hour is a major plus
  • Ballard Inn – Former Victorian-style home turned cozy hotel, bed and breakfast vibes, great on-site restaurant 
  • Airbnb – Cozy homes, residential rooms/guest houses, might even find one right on a vineyard



  • SY Kitchen – One of the most popular dinner spots, California menu with seasonal ingredients, great cocktails and weekend lunch service
  • Queen Cup Coffee – Located adjacent to Lucky Hen Larder, classic coffees along with fancy favorites like Dirty Horchata 
  • Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn – New American cuisine, known for their steak, former dance hall turned rustic restaurant 
  • Lucky Hen Larder – Sandwiches and lunch to-go, cheese shop has an amazing artisan spread, great place to grab stuff for a picnic
  • The Baker’s Table – Artisan bakery, breakfast food like quiches and salads at lunch
  • Dos Carlitos – Mexican restaurant, amazing selection of tequila and Mezcal, great place to cure a craving and take a break from wine
  • Pony Espresso – So much more than a coffee shop,  Tacos and Tapas on Wednesdays
  • The Ballard Inn Restaurant – Locally sourced gourmet ingredients and an amazing wine list
  • Bob’s Well Bread Ballard – Again, AMAZING bread/pastries/breakfast, this is their second location





  • Favour Boutique – Women’s boutique, they have everything from cozy hoodies to fun sundresses
  • Brass Tack – One of my FAVORITES, fair-trade, vintage lifestyle boutique, amazing finds and a custom hat bar
  • Devine Supply – Solid boutique that focuses on sustainability and eco-friendly brands
  • Plenty – Fun bohemian boutique with a mix of new and vintage, started by two best friends 
  • Santa Ynez General – Great place for gifts! They have clothing and accessories for both men and women as well as a separate housewares shop
  • Heaven Scent – Adorable apothecary, LITERALLY smells like heaven when you walk in, which you can do straight from Plenty
  • Forage Florals – If you love flowers, you have to come here, beautiful arrangements along with stunning home accessories and decor
  • KJ Murphy Custom Cowboy Hatfitter – Can’t come to Santa Ynez and leave without a cowboy hat! Truly obsessed with this place






Los Olivos is a charming part of the valley that features a cluster of tasting rooms and cute shops in the main town square area. Though there are some sweeping vineyards on the outskirts of Los Olivos, most people come here to park their car and walk from winery to winery on the main strip–there are more than 50 of them!!! Some of my favorite tasting rooms are here, and there is a really special sense of community that shines through in each business.





  • Bar Le Cote – Upscale seafood tavern, amazing weekend happy hour from 4:00 – 5:30 PM, the newest and most popular restaurant in town, definitely make a reservation
  • Nella – At the Fess Parker, fresh seafood and vibrant veggies, focus on sourcing locally, don’t skip the pinsas – or cocktails crafted by Chris!
  • Los Olivos Wine Merchant and CafeSideways star, light California fare, amazing vintage wines available for purchase 
  • Panino – Sandwiches and salads, great place to grab a quick bite in between wine tastings
  • Lefty’s Coffee – Cute new-ish coffee shop centered around community, incredible coffee, and even better pastries



  • Figueroa Mountain Brewery – Craft, local beer in a cool, industrial setting
  • Nella – If you can’t make it for dinner, this is the spot in town to sit at a nice bar and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine



  • Carhartt – One of my favorite wineries, family-owned and run, always packed, super fun patio and people
  • Story of Soil – I love this tasting room so much, cozy, local, and incredible female-made wines (the Syrahs and Pinots are top-notch) 
  • Storm – Relaxed tasting room and patio tucked away, amazing Pinots
  • Liquid Farm – known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, wine is made in Sta. Rita hills, gorgeous tasting room and gift shop
  • Brewer Clifton – Sleek and modern tasting room, classic, elegant, renowned wines by Greg Brewer
  • Stolpman – Super popular winery (you can find their wines at Whole Foods in LA), family-owned business that has mastered unique and refreshing wines
  • Dragonette – Great stop for a quick tasting, not a lot of seating, better for standing at the counter and learning about the wines you’re tasting
  • Carucci – Wines are poured exclusively by the winemaker, cute little tasting room



  • Global Eye – Handmade ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and photos
  • Wildflower Women Boutique – Country-inspired clothing, skincare products, cute kids section 
  • J. Woeste Boutique – HUGE store with amazing antiques and tons of cool plants and garden accessories to choose from
  • Los Olivos General Store – Gourmet foods, books, candles, jewelry, and kitchen accessories 
  • Coco-Belle Cabana Boutique – Artisan products, hand-crafted sarongs, towels, and jewelry from all over the world in the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn
  • Wendy Foster – Luxe clothing and jewelry, sister locations in Montecito and Santa Barbara 
  • Jedlicka’s – Fun Western wear, boots and cowboy hats
  • Global Gardens – Can’t come to Los Olivos without grabbing a bottle of olive oil here, amazing vinegars and sauces as well



  • Hiking – From the Manza trail loop to the Davy Brown trailhead, there are some stellar hikes in Los Olivos to move your body and take a break from the wine
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride – Sky’s the Limit has been around since 1994, you can even do a morning flight over wine country with a glass of champagne 
  • Horseback Riding – Vino Vaqueros are the folks to see about going out for a ride! They offer private 75-90 minute rides around guaranteed stunning scenery 






If you’re a fan of Sideways (literally my favorite movie of all time), then you’re already at least a little familiar with the town of Buellton. (The Windmill Motel ring a bell? Well it’s now the Sideways Inn, of course.) This is probably the most low-key and “towny” part of the valley, but it has some amazing hidden gems that are well worth exploring. 



  • The Inn at Zaca Creek – Inspired by the English countryside, stunning stone buildings, beautiful rolling green grounds, popular wedding venue, and there’s even a private pool that guests can use
  • Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground – Great place for glamping, charming cabins and camper RV’s



  • Industrial Eats – Casual setting, amazing sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas, located in a renovated warehouse
  • The Hitching Post II – Sideways spot, hearty food like steak and burgers
  • The Tavern at Zaca Creek – Stunning restaurant and bar, modern vibe, local wines and food, great place to explore unique food and drink pairings, also home to my favorite brunch in the valley
  • God’s Country Provisions – These donuts are AMAZING, great place to cure your sweet tooth
  • Ellen’s Danish Pancake House – Such an amazing breakfast spot in Buellton, traditional Danish pancakes in a cozy and quaint setting, they even serve beer if you visit during lunch





  • Sideways Tour – Stop by all of the spots that were featured in my favorite film, Hitching Post,
  • Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden – Beautiful gardens, a wonderful way to connect with nature, literally looks straight out of a postcard
  • OstrichLand USA – Very quick activity, fun to feed the ostriches and watch them interact





  • Peake Ranch – Epic views, 50 acres of vines, specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • Demetria – Considered to be a “hidden gem,” Biodynamic Rhône and Burgundy-style wines, pack a picnic because you’ll want to linger to take in the views
  • The Hilt Estate (Sta. Rita Hills) – Rustic and absolutely stunning barn-style winery, appointments are required, worth the drive
  • Tyler – Delicate and balanced wines, beautiful views from the outdoor tables, be sure to make an appointment in advance 
  • Gainey – Stunning shaded upper terrace with breathtaking views, really classic place that definitely has an old-school vibe to it
  • Beckman – Family-owned and operated, specializes in high-end Rhône wines
  • Babcock – Great vibe and atmosphere, enjoy live music and snacks, cool vintage decor inside 
  • Zaca Mesa – Established in 1973, distinctive, single-vineyard Rhône-style wines
  • Melville – On Highway 246 outside of Lompoc, they also have a tasting room in Santa Barbara, stunning outdoor seating, and lots of wine by the glass 
  • Sanford – First winery to plant Pinot Noir vines in SB county, Burgundy-style wines, beautiful vineyards
  • Spear – Sustainable and organic wines, *gorgeous* barn-style tasting room surrounded by vines
  • Buttonwood – 39-acres of vineyards, magical setting, they’re always hosting fun events
  • Pres’quile (Santa Maria) – Super modern tasting room surrounded by acres of vineyards, enjoy a simple tasting or set up an entire picnic on the grounds
  • Cambria (Santa Maria) – Women-owned winery, great Chard and Pinot Noir



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