Putting a Family Spin on Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country

by Felicity Long

Sep 2, 2019

Bennymarty | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Adult Children

Santa Ynez Valley, California is more than just a destination for wine lovers. In fact, visitors of every generation will find activities and attractions to lure them to this central coast region.


Gen X families, for example, can try a “glamping” experience at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, or, if even fancy camping isn’t your thing, try the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Either way, you’ll be in Buellton, one of six counties in the area and one especially suited for families. Visit Ostrichland USA, for example, for an up-close-and-personal look at, what else, ostriches, then move on to the storybook Danish-American town of Solvang.

Old Danish Fudge Kitchen at Danish village in Solvang, California. Photo: Bennymarty | Dreamstime.com

Here you can dine on Danish fare at Solvang Restaurant, then treat the kids to a chocolate-making or cookie-decorating experience at one of Solvang’s authentic Danish bakeries. After lunch, how about a group horseback ride through the vineyard with Vino Vaqueros or KAP Land & Cattle, followed by a visit to Buttonwood Farm and Winery, where the kids can enjoy a picnic and parents can sample the local wines.


Also in Solvang, families can test their wits in The Ultimate Escape Room — each room has a different theme — or Space VR, which allows visitors to explore space via virtual reality in a zero-gravity tank.



Nature lovers can take an easy hike at Nojoqui Falls State Park, pick up picnic supplies at El Rancho Marketplace and spend the day fishing, wildlife viewing or water recreation at Lake Cachuma.

Nojoqui Falls Park

Nojoqui Falls Park. Photo: Debra Tosca | Dreamstime.com

Meanwhile, millennials are not forgotten. Accommodation suggestions include the Scandinavian-style The Landsby, an urban retreat in downtown Solvang, or the themed rooms of The Victorian Mansion at Los Alamos, known locally as a haven for foodies. You can test that reputation at PICO at the Los Alamos General Store, named by Wine Enthusiast as a top wine country restaurant.


After breakfast at The Baker’s Table, how about a glider ride over the Santa Ynez Valley from Cloud 9 Glider Rides, which operates out of the Santa Ynez Airport, followed by a tour and tasting of estate-produced, organic olive oils at Global Gardens in Los Olivos.


Outdoor enthusiasts can take a scenic, three-hour hike through Gaviota State Park, which boasts 2,775 acres of oak-dotted trails, a natural hot spring and views of the Pacific Ocean.

Railroad tracks over bridge at Gaviota Beach on the central coast of California. Photo: Henryturner | Dreamstime.com

Finally, if you have Baby Boomers in your family, why not set them loose at the shops, museums and galleries of Santa Ynez, followed by a picnic lunch at one of the many picturesque estate vineyards in the area?


No matter the generation, adults who enjoy wine can end the day with tastings at any of the 100-plus wineries that have given the area its reputation


For the record, the valley includes Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang and is located less than 45 minutes from the Santa Barbara Airport, two hours from Los Angeles, and four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area.


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