Go Off the Beaten Path in Lompoc Valley

By Tori Peglar,
Vineyards in Lompoc’s Sta. Rita Hills

Pronounced “Laampoke,” this quiet agricultural town offers four ways to experience wine country’s deep roots.

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

La Purisima Mission Chapel

Established in 1787, this mission was one of 21 established along California’s coast during a 54-year period, beginning in 1769. Under the order of the king of Spain, military troops and Franciscan missionaries arrived in California to establish outposts and convert Indians to Christianity. The most fully furnished and restored of the 21 missions, La Purisima gives visitors a sense of what life was like in the early 1800s. Its different than other city-based missions in that it’s set on 2,000 acres with 25 miles of hiking trails.The mission is open seven days a week. Free guided tours are offered at 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The 1.5-hour tour begins at the Visitor Center where guides share stories of mission life as they lead you on a one-mile walk through the historic buildings and rustic terrain, and up and down stairs.

Local Wine

Wine Tasting in Lompoc

Lompoc and the surrounding Sta. Rita Hills AVA are known for their extraordinary Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and other cool climate wines. There are 30 wineries to choose from in three areas: the Sta. Rita Hills vineyards 10 minutes from town, Midtown Lompoc and the Lompoc Wine Ghetto near the intersection of North 7th Street and East Chestnut. Because many are small-batch facilities, the winemakers are often on-site to talk enthusiastically about their winemaking process. The Wine Ghetto has 20 boutique tasting rooms, and you can park and stroll from tasting room to tasting room. Look for Fiddlehead Cellars founded by Kathy Joseph in 1989. Passionate about Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noirs, Joseph is recognized as a female pioneer in the wine industry and produces 5,000 cases a year. Go to explorelompoc.com to find out more about the tasting room offerings, hours and whether you need an appointment.

Mural Walk

“Lompoc Pioneers” Mural

Stretch your legs and see the sights when you do an outdoor mural walk through Old Town Lompoc. There are nearly 40 murals covering the history of Lompoc, beginning with the Chumash Indians, and you’ll find them on the sides of buildings, in alleys and on street corners. A newcomer to the scene, Agriculture in the Valley Beautiful mural emphasizes the area’s culture of cultivation. Others celebrate the community’s ethnic diversity and flower industry. While you’re in Old Town, have lunch at Sissy’s Uptown Cafe. This family-owned restaurant is housed in a historic building that used to be the town post office. Don’t leave without ordering a slice of Sissy’s famous coconut cream pie. Stop by the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau for a mural map and tips on places to see and things to do along the route.

Skydiving

Skydiving in Lompoc

Lompoc is home to Skydive Santa Barbara, which offers the highest tandem jump in southern California. You drop from 18,000 feet (with supplemental oxygen on the way up) and do a 90-second free fall. It’s the company’s most popular jump and enables you to really feel like a bird. If leaping out of a plane at 18,000 feet seems too intense, the company does offer two other tandem jumps: a 13,000-foot tandem jump and a 8,000-foot tandem jump. Regardless of which jump you choose, you’ll get spectacular views on the way down of the Pacific Ocean, white-sand beaches, a patchwork of vineyards and agricultural fields and the coast’s rolling hills.

For more information:

Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
(800) 240-0999
111 South I St., Lompoc, CA
explorelompoc.com

Central Coast Tourism
www.centralcoast-tourism.com