Visit the place where it all started in the Santa Ynez Valley — the town of Santa Ynez, of course. Surrounded by rolling hills and orderly rows of grape vines, the area offers a mix of scenic beauty, history and culinary delights for visitors. Stroll the streets of downtown, enjoy the sight of its 1880s-era building facades, and explore charming art galleries and other finds. Discover the Valley’s deeply rooted Chumash history and connection to the county’s early Spanish settlers, get a taste of country-style feasting, and savor the wines of the Central Coast in dreamy vineyard settings. Santa Ynez makes a perfect day-trip destination from Santa Barbara.
Things to Do in Santa Ynez
Throw on your cowboy boots and saddle up for a breathtaking and memorable horseback ride through the vineyards and hills. Early in the morning, take in a bird’s eye view of the area from the basket of a hot air balloon. Or breathe in some fresh mountain air with a challenging hike to Manzana Schoolhouse and Dabney Cabin, one of the area’s turn-of-the-century homesteads.
Cultivate your inner wine-lover and let your creative spirit flow with a glass of wine in one hand and a paintbrush in the other as Art Spot on Wheels leads you and your friends through a two-hour painting session in the vineyard. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, head to the nearby Chumash Casino Resort, where you’ll find slot machines, table games and a packed calendar of live entertainment.
Where to Eat in Santa Ynez
End the day with a sumptuous, five-star dining experience at S.Y. Kitchen, which serves up fresh, modern Italian dishes that are sure to please any palate. Spend some time on the heated outdoor lounge area for a pre-dinner cocktail, head indoors for dinner, and pair your seasonal meal with — what else? — local wines grown in the surrounding hills. As you explore the town, you’ll find plenty of additional dining options as well, ranging from burgers and fries to refined Italian cuisine and more.