6 Must-See Rustic Towns In California’s Santa Ynez Valley

BY WENDY HUNG

Santa Ynez Valley Solvang

You may know Santa Ynez Valley as the home to Michael Jackson’s Neverland, or the filming location of the movie Sideways. But there’s so much more than that in this charming, rustic part of Central California. A weekend getaway in SYV, you’ll understand why numerous celebrities come here to escape the spotlight.

SEE ALSO: 5 Delightful Wine Tasting Rooms In California’s Santa Ynez Valley

Here’s a breakdown of the six lovely towns that make up a charming and rustic Californian valley.

Ballard

Reputation: A romantic B&B serving foodies’ dreams.

The 411: Ballard is the smallest town in Santa Ynez Valley with a population for 467. Don’t miss the most romantic B&B The Ballard Inn & Restaurant serving you the meal of life. If you’re road tripping, make sure to stop by and check out miniature donkeys that will make you gush. 

Don’t missBallard Inn & Restaurant, Seein’ Spots Farm.

Santa Ynez Valley Ballard Inn

Buellton

Reputation: Remember that comedy-drama movie, Sideways

The 411: Many travelers come to Buellton to see where Sideways was filmed.  But for those who want to switch it up a little from all that wine in the valley, Buellton hosts quite a few breweries for beer fanatics. An Ostrichland is also where both kids and adults can have a field day with the wildlife. 

Don’t missFigueroa Mountain Brewing Co. Buellton TaproomFirestone Walker Brewing CompanyOstrichlandReturn To Freedom American Wild Horse SanctuarySanta Ynez Valley Botanic Garden.

Santa Ynez Valley Buellton

Los Alamos

Reputation: Bell Street is enough to make antique-lovers happy and winos jumping with joy.

The 411: The quiet yet intimate Los Alamos has a population of 1,890. Its main Bell Street contains seven blocks of lovely antique shops and small but personal wine tasting rooms. The town is as vintage chic as it gets as quite a few celebrities have opened wine tasting rooms on Bell Street, including Emilio Estevez, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson and Matthew Bellamy. 1880 Union Hotel is also where Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and numerous musicians shot their music videos. One thing not to miss in Los Alamos is a delicious brunch spot: Bell Street Farm (get the charcuterie, it’ll take you right back to the south of France!)

Don’t miss1880 Union HotelBell Street FarmCasa Dumetz Wines.

Santa Ynez Valley Los Alamos

Los Olivos

Reputation: A laid-back Wine tasting haven.

The 411: If you like to taste local vintage bottles in a mellow and easygoing setting, Los Olivos is the perfect spot. The town centers around an iconic flagpole, you’ll see Victorian homes and local business situated on Alamo Pintado Avenue and Grand Avenue. Horse trails, lavender farms, orchards and vineyards are all part of the rustic charm that keeps Los Olivos delightful and relaxing. 

Don’t missAndrew Murray Vineyards Winery & Visitor’s CenterFirestone Vineyard & WineryGallery Los OlivosLos Olivos General Store & Larner Wine Tasting RoomStolpman Wine Tasting RoomWaxing Poetic.

Santa Ynez Valley Los Olivos

Santa Ynez

Reputation: The sophisticated cowboy town.

The 411: Driving on Sagunto Street, you’ll see the fusion of modern chic blending in with horses parked by local cowboys. During the day, Santa Ynez is the perfect spot for cyclists to enjoy incredible landscape. Others can stroll alongside fashion boutiques, gorgeous galleries and outstanding restaurants that juxtapose Chumash Casino Resort which boasts non-stop entertainment late into the night.

Don’t missChumash Casino ResortDos Carlitos Restaurant & Tequila BarForever PoshGainey VineyardRancho Oso Guest Ranch & StablesSanta Ynez InnSanta Ynez Valley Historical Museum, The Baker’s TableTrattoria Grappolo.

Santa Ynez Valleypsd

Solvang

Reputation: The Danish town you never knew existed in California. 

The 411: Back in 1911, a group of Danish-American settled in Solvang. Since then, traditions and architecture has remained an integral charm of this community. You won’t need to make a trip to Denmark once you’ve been to Solvang. Streets are lined with boutiques, restaurants and decor that whisk you straight to the authentic Scandinavian culture. 

Don’t missAlisal Guest Ranch & ResortElverhoj Museum of History and ArtHotel CorqueOlsen’s Danish Village BakeryRoot 246Succulent Café Wine CharcuterieTenley Fohl PhotographyThe LandsbyWildling MuseumZFolio Gallery.

Santa Ynez Valley Solvang

Wendy Hung contributor profile Santa Ynez Valley

Michael Yamaoka photographs SHOP JST.COM

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