Head inland from California’s Central Coast for a stunning drive to Buellton, Calif., in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley for off-the-beaten path experiences that are affordable from blueberry picking to trail rides.
1. Do a Trail Ride through the Sta. Rita Hills
Why go: See this beautiful Santa Ynez Valley on a one-hour trail ride with Santa Ynez Valley Trails Rides. It’s a great way for people ages 6 and up to be outside and see a gorgeous corner of the Central Coast. You’ll cross the Santa Ynez River, looking for wildlife and taking in the views.
Tip: The stables offer one-hour lessons for children ages 2 and up and includes how to groom, tack, lead and ride a pony.
2. Santa Barbara Blueberries at Restoration Oaks Ranch
Why go: Located just a few minutes from Buellton, this family-owned, 1,000-acre blueberry farm, cattle ranch and retreat offers a down-to-earth, u-pick experience. Fill up your silver pail with pesticide-free blueberries while enjoying being outside in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. santabarbarablueberries.com
Tip: During blueberry (June and July) and raspberry season (August through October), u-pick hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
3. Sideways Tour
Why go: Trace the steps of the characters who sipped their way around the Santa Ynez Valley, including Buellton’s Hitching Post II, in the 2004 hit film Sideways.
Tip: Pick up a Sideways map at the Buellton Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, 597 Avenue of Flags or follow the links online at www.discoverbuellton.com/travel-style/sideways-the-experience/
4. Industrial Eats Restaurant & Butcher Shop
Why go: Eat locally grown food and wood-fired pizza at this wonderfully creative restaurant and butcher shop. Located in a repurposed warehouse, this fun spot has communal tables wit a wonderfully inventive menu that includes entrees, sandwiches and pizzas that can be topped with gorgonzola, apple and bacon and more.
Tip: Afterwards, walk through the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden at RiverView Park.
5. Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant
Why go: A mainstay for decades, this iconic restaurant in Buellton has been serving travelers and locals for 94 years. www.peasoupandersens.net
Tip: Jump on the bandwagon and order one of the 2 million bowls of pea soup this restaurant serves per year.
6. Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground
Why go: Hip vintage Airstreams, luxury safari tents, wine cottages with grapevines growing between the backyard and national park-themed cabins offer an amazing lodging experience in Buellton. There are also more than 300 RV spots and an outdoor pool and two jacuzzis. highwaywestvacations.com/properties/flyingflags
Tip: Play bocce ball or horse shoes before heading to the Friday night BBQ at the hip Campfire Cafe.
7. Visit OstrichLand USA
Why go: See and interact with emus and ostriches at Ostrichland USA. You can even feed them.
Tip: Stop by the gift store for unique ostrich and emu-related gifts, including fresh ostrich eggs.