The small town of Santa Ynez, California is a perfect place for an adventure. With live music venues and wineries throughout the region, this quaint little spot in the Central Valley can be easily explored without having to travel far. Here are some great things to do while you’re at it.
The “10 Best Things to Do in Santa Ynez, California” is a blog post that provides visitors with the best things to do in Santa Ynez. The author of the blog post also provides links to each destination.
Santa Ynez is a small town in the Santa Ynez Valley, which is known for its wine. The town of Santa Ynez, despite its modest size, packs a powerful punch when it comes to exciting things to do.
The town of Santa Ynez, located in one of California’s most renowned wine areas, is a must-see for delicious cuisine and drink in a stunning environment. However, there is enough to do here, from shopping to outdoor activities. And, whether you stay for a day or a week, it’s a terrific small spot to simply calm down and have a quiet holiday.
Santa Ynez Historical Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of Santa Ynez and Carriage House
The town of Santa Ynez, like other portions of the Santa Ynez Valley, is an easy day trip from Santa Barbara (or LA) or a pleasant weekend escape from LA. If you plan a longer vacation, Santa Ynez is near to the other towns in the Santa Ynez Valley, so there’s much more to see and do in the area.
Are you planning a trip to Santa Ynez, California? Continue reading to learn about the greatest things to do in this quaint Santa Ynez Valley village, as well as where to stay and dine.
Santa Ynez has a lot to offer.
Take a stroll around Santa Ynez’s downtown area.
Walking through Santa Ynez’s little downtown is perhaps the most delightful thing to do. Many of the buildings along the main street have facades that date from the 1880s, making them interesting to look at and photograph.
Santa Ynez’s Old West facade
We’ve strolled up and down Sagunto Street numerous times, admiring the charming businesses and buildings. There are also cafés where you may get an outdoor table and have a drink while people-watching.
Browse the various shops and art galleries, and soak in the atmosphere, whether you go early in the morning to shoot photographs in relative seclusion, or later in the day or evening when the lovely streets are bustling with people.
The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum is a must-see.
The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House is conveniently situated in the center of downtown Santa Ynez, making a visit a breeze. With exhibits and programs, the museum highlights the towns of California’s Central Coast.
Santa Ynez Historical Museum
You may see the greatest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in the western United States, as well as gorgeous saddles, riding gear, and historical dress, at the Parks-Janeway Carriage House.
The museum also hosts a number of multi-month exhibitions that promote local art or throw light on the valley’s history and culture.
The museum is situated at 3596 Sagunto Street and is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. at the time of writing. There is a charge for entrance. Visit the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information on hours and admission.
Take a Wine Tasting Tour in Town
If you have the time, you may conduct your wine tastings in Santa Ynez among beautiful vineyards, but there are also wine tasting establishments in downtown Santa Ynez. In addition, several restaurants in the downtown area have a large range of local wines.
One of the most popular activities in Santa Ynez is wine tasting.
The CrossHatch wine tasting facility is housed in a charming structure on Edison Street. You may sample their distinctive small batch co-fermented mixes in the tasting area, which is friendly and roomy.
In downtown Santa Ynez, Carr Winery has a big wine storage facility. The warehouse has bars and booths where you may order flights, wines by the glass, or wine on tap. Pinot gris, pinot noir, syrah, grenache, and cabernet franc are among the varietals.
On Sagunto Street, Central California Wines is a boutique distributor of Central Coast wines and an excellent one-stop shop for samples of labels from the region’s greatest vineyards.
Santa Ynez’s downtown is modest, but there are various boutiques and galleries to peruse, intermingled with tack shops and feeding supply businesses, if you prefer shopping.
In Santa Ynez, there’s a place called Ranch-N-Back.
Charlotte’s Treasures sells beautiful silver jewelry for ladies and men, as well as western equipment and art. This is a great business to visit if you appreciate browsing for locally manufactured things.
Another interesting shop to visit is Valerie’s Vintage & Supply Co. You may buy furniture made by the owner and her husband, as well as unusual presents and antiques, at this store. Another fantastic location to support the local economy!
Valerie’s Vintage is located in the heart of downtown Santa Ynez.
Finch & Fern is a home and garden store featuring a large selection of rustic chic furniture, décor, and gifts. The proprietor also provides interior design workshops!
There are many clothes shops in the area: Quality ranch items and presents, such as hats and leather belts, are available at Ranch-N-Back. Devine Supply has a good range of apparel and gifts for men and women. Clothing, jewelry, and gifts are available at Plenty Boutique.
Visit a Vineyard in the Area
One of the nicest things to do in Santa Ynez is to drive about town on the quiet rural roads to see surrounding vineyards. And in every other town in the Santa Ynez Valley, for that matter. With rolling hills and gnarled old oaks, working ranches, and, of course, wineries, the place is stunning.
The Santa Ynez Valley is really stunning!
There are many wineries to choose from in town, but here are a few of our favorites:
Refugio Road is home to Brave & Maiden Estate. The wine tasting experiences here are among of the finest in the region, with beautiful architecture and wide vineyard vistas. Appointments are required for tastings.
Sunstone Winery has a stunning winery structure that is evocative of a rustic Provencal house, as well as lovely gardens filled with the scents of lavender and rosemary. A kitchen with a wood-burning oven is included in the tasting area. Organically produced grapes are used in estate wines.
Gainey Vineyard is a Santa Ynez-based winemaking operation run by a family. The Spanish-style winery first opened its doors in 1984, and it now produces a range of limited-edition wines. The Upper Terrace offers stunning views of the surrounding vineyards during tastings.
On a vine, clusters of ripe grapes
Just off CA-154 lies the Roblar Winery and Vineyards. The villa exudes elegance and serenity as it is nestled amid ancient oak trees. Tastings are held on the trellis-covered patio, which offers sweeping views of the vineyards, but the tasting room, which has an indoor-outdoor fireplace, is as lovely.
Enjoy a tasting of olive oil
Rancho Olivos is a Santa Ynez-based family business that grows olives and makes extra virgin olive oils. To assure freshness and quality, the olives are hand-picked and ground within a few hours after harvest.
When olives reach maturity, they become black.
At Rancho Olivos, you may tour the farm and sample the handcrafted olive oils. Tastings take place at a booth beside the gorgeous olive gardens, and oils may be purchased. They offer a range of infused oils and vinegars, including garlic olive oil and Meyer lemon olive oil, which we enjoy.
If you want to stay in the middle of the olive trees, Rancho Olivos also offers farm stays. You may also pay a visit to the farm animals!
At the Chumash Casino, you may try your luck.
Visit the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez if you’re feeling fortunate! Apart from gambling, the resort has high-rise lodgings, a pool and spa, a variety of restaurants, and shopping.
The casino also offers a wide range of entertainment, including local and national bands and entertainers.
S.Y. Kitchen is a great place to eat.
S.Y. Kitchen is one of our favorite restaurants throughout the Santa Ynez Valley, not only in the town of Santa Ynez. We’ve dined here many times and have always had a fantastic meal.
Salad of yellow beets
The Cucina Rustica serves delectable Italian cuisine cooked with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The vegetarian minestrone and the yellow beet salad are our favorite lunch combinations at the restaurant. The clam spaghetti is delicious, as are the truffle sliders.
We haven’t yet tried everything on the menu since we like to stick to our tried-and-true favorites most of the time, but everything we have eaten has been fantastic.
Soup of minestrone with a parmesan chip
S.Y. Kitchen is in the heart of downtown Santa Ynez, on Faraday Street. Reservations are required, particularly on weekends.
Take advantage of the great outdoors.
Allow plenty of time to take in the sights near Santa Ynez. You may take a stroll or ride your bike around the countryside, go trekking, or go horseback riding (Vino Vaqueros offers horseback rides in Santa Ynez). In the Santa Ynez Valley, spring is a particularly lovely time to be outside.
Spring in the Santa Ynez Valley
In Santa Ynez, the daring may take a hot air balloon flight. Sky’s the Limit Ballooning offers rides, and you may choose between a dawn or sunset ride. You’ll fly over vineyards and Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, with views of the San Rafael mountains in the background.
Attractions in the Santa Ynez Valley
The villages of the scenic Santa Ynez Valley are close together, so no matter which one you choose as your home base, you’ll find it simple to visit the others if you have the time.
Visit Solvang, which bills itself as the “Danish Capital of America,” to get a taste of Europe in California. Aebleskivers, or fluffy Danish fried dough balls, are served here. Enjoy the Danish-style architecture, souvenir shopping, wine tasting, and tours of the Old Mission Santa Ynes and the town’s tiny museums.
In Solvang, there is a lovely street.
Sample handmade spirits and pay a visit to the Hitching Post 2 Restaurant in neighboring Buellton, which was featured in the film Sideways. You may feed ostriches and emus at Ostrichland. Buellton is well known for Andersen’s Pea Soup.
The town of Los Olivos is well-known for its many vineyards and restaurants. There are several interesting boutiques and galleries in downtown Los Olivos. Los Alamos also features a lively downtown area with Old West-style buildings. Ballard is a modest town with a lot of historic residences and a miniature horse ranch. Bob’s Well Bread is a must-see, having locations in both Los Alamos and Ballard.
Los Olivos’ Fess Parker Winery
How to Get to Santa Ynez, California
On the California Central Coast, Santa Ynez is situated in the Santa Ynez Valley, near Santa Barbara. If you’re flying in, Santa Barbara International Airport is the closest large airport.
The majority of guests come in Santa Ynez by car. The community is roughly a 31-mile drive from Santa Barbara via CA-154 W, which is a very attractive journey. Santa Ynez (and the region in general) is a favorite wine country vacation from Santa Barbara because of this.
Santa Ynez is also a short drive from the Los Angeles region. You have the option of taking the picturesque route up Highway One or taking the shortest route depending on traffic. The town and valley are also nice weekend escapes from San Diego, although with a little extra travel (about 245 miles each way).
Santa Ynez’s Sagunto Street has a variety of shops.
If you’re coming from San Luis Obispo, the travel south via US-101 S is roughly 72 miles. Santa Ynez is around 300 miles south of San Francisco, a 4 hour and 30 minute trip on the motorway. The town, as well as the Santa Ynez Valley as a whole, are great weekend escapes from San Francisco.
On a California road trip, Santa Ynez and the Santa Ynez Valley are a must-see!
Looking for a vehicle rental for your trip to Santa Ynez? Take a look at Discover Cars! They compare prices from a variety of suppliers, including Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Budget, and Sixt, to get the best deal for you.
Downtown Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez, California: Where to Stay
Santa Ynez, California hotels
Each day of your stay at the Santa Ynez Inn, you’ll be treated to a full breakfast and an afternoon wine hour. The rooms are large and well-equipped. There are fireplaces and whirlpool tubs in several of the rooms. Private balconies and hot baths are included in the suites. Make a reservation here!
The ForFriends Inn is situated in Santa Ynez’s downtown area. The bed & breakfast, which has just eight rooms, serves three-course breakfasts and afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres. The rooms are beautiful and roomy, and the bathrooms are contemporary. The covered porch is a lovely area for socializing. Make a reservation here!
The horseshoes on the crosswalks are not to be missed!
Santa Ynez, CA Vacation Rentals
This lovely VRBO property accommodates up to four people and is surrounded by lavender, vineyards, and olive trees. The property, which is just 3 miles from downtown Santa Ynez, has convenient access to numerous regional wineries and is the ideal spot to unwind. On cold nights, enjoy the sunset from the terrace and the fireplace! Make a reservation here!
This charming home is around 3 kilometers from the town center and includes two bedrooms and one bathroom. The grounds are lovely, and the cottage is roomy, with nice views and a front terrace where you can relax with a drink of wine in the evenings. If you want to visit with your dog, a fenced-in yard is ideal. Make a reservation here!
On Sagunto Street, there’s a lovely shop!
In Santa Ynez, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from.
While SY Kitchen is definitely a must-see in Santa Ynez, here are a few of our other recommendations:
The Red Barn’s Brothers Restaurant serves New American food in a rustic setting that complements the town’s atmosphere. They provide a large selection of Central Coast wines to complement your meal. Lunch and supper are available.
At the Red Barn, there’s a restaurant called Brothers.
Trattoria Grappolo serves traditional Italian fare such as wood-fired pizza and spaghetti, as well as a variety of seafood main meals. They are only open for supper and are situated on Sagunto Street in downtown Santa Ynez.
Quality Mexican cuisine is served at Carlitos y Carlitos y Carlitos y Carl Restaurant and Tequila Bar. It’s on Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez’s downtown area. Both the grilled veggie tostada and the grilled Anaheim chiles are delicious. They don’t take reservations and are open for lunch and supper.
Santa Ynez, California’s Best Time to Visit
Santa Ynez is a year-round destination with much to see and do at any time of the year. Daytime highs in the 90s are expected at the peak of summer. Temperatures in the mid-60s are common throughout the winter, but it may become chilly early and late, so dress warmly.
We like to visit Santa Ynez in the spring and autumn for the nicest weather. In the spring, the valley is lush and green, with wildflowers blossoming all over the landscape. Harvest season is here, so there will be grape stomps and other exciting activities.
In late April, roses blossom in Santa Ynez.
Each year in June, the town has an Old Santa Ynez Day celebration, which includes a parade, a street fair with arts and crafts, and live music. It’s a great time to go!
Do you want to see more of Central California? Take a look at our other travel guides!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Santa Ynez Valley known for?
A: Santa Ynez Valley is known for its wine, agriculture and scenery. The valleys climate supports the environment of a temperate Mediterranean type with dry grasses and scrub oak covering most of the area.
What is there to do in Santa Ynez today?
A: Santa Ynez is a small town in the US that has some things to do, but nothing really special. The biggest attraction would be its beautiful vineyards, which are worth visiting if youre into wine tasting and have time.
Is Santa Ynez nice?
A: Santa Ynez is a nice city.
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