It was great to see that Redmond was, once again, offering direct flights to LA. Justin and I hopped on the 8:00am flight in route to spend a week in Southern California, or more specifically, the Santa Ynez Valley. Although this was a business trip for Justin, I was able to relax and enjoy some time away in a place I probably would never have stumbled upon on my own.
After getting our rental car, we enjoyed a two-hour drive to Santa Barbara where we did a little shopping and had a small bite to eat at a cute restaurant called blush. I also sipped on their happy hour white wine – very crisp and refreshing.
Following a few hours in Santa Barbara and a quick trip over the hills, we fell into the Santa Ynez Valley and the cute western themed town of Santa Ynez. Upon arrival we checked into the Santa Ynez Inn, a luxurious boutique hotel with a lot of uniqueness and charm. Our room was unlike any I have ever stayed in – spacious and elegant (did I mention the heated marble bathroom floors?!)
That evening we ate at a highly recommended Mexican restaurant called Dos Carlitos and it definitely did not disappoint. Justin had the Pacific Halibut Veracruzano, while I feasted on the Burrito Mariscos – filled with halibut, shrimp, and scallops – YUM!
I also tried a couple different margaritas and my favorite was the red hibiscus. This little bottle of Don Julio was a souvenir!
The next day started off with a pleasant five mile run along beautiful farms and wineries, while Justin took care of a few work tasks. We then headed to Los Alamos to have lunch at Bell Street Farm, a unique farm to table experience that one cannot pass up. The owner and chef, Jamie, makes everyone feel relaxed and at home and he makes one heck of a rotisserie pork salad). This place is a MUST!
Venturing on, we visited two wineries in the region that were mentioned during lunch by a few of the locals. Demetria was our first stop, followed by Zaca Mesa. Although the drive to Demetria is quite long, the authentic wine country surrounding the windy road is well worth the trip. What a great place to relax, enjoy a snack, sip some wine, and escape the rush of life.
That evening we made reservations at an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Grappolo and were seated in a nice area on the patio where we appreciated a warm sun and nice breeze. Justin and I both ordered a pasta dish, since we rarely eat it back at home. Both dishes were good.
Excited for our next adventure, Tuesday morning we put on our bike attire and headed across the street to the bike shop. We were fortunate to take out a couple Specialized bikes, as the 50 miles ahead were not going to be easy, or smooth for that matter. We rode past farms, near wineries, through picturesque towns, and over robust hills, all while battling a nice wind. Although difficult, the ride was memorable and scenic!
After we finished our “more challenging than expected” ride, Justin and I immediately decided that lunch would take place at Sides Hardware and Shoes. Yes, the name is probably the most unusual name for a restaurant (EVER), but it is my favorite place to eat in the Santa Ynez Valley. We sat outside in the perfect sunlight and dove in to a Big West Burger (Justin) and Bacon Burger (Guilty). Even the table of women next to us (with their salads) questioned our ability to bite in…
After 50 miles on a bike with a strong headwind, even after consuming a large burger and fries, your appetite does not cease. Thus, that evening we splurged again at the SY Kitchen, munching on burger sliders and pasta. We both preferred this Italian restaurant to Trattoria Grappolo, which we had eaten at the night before. This is a new, up-and-coming restaurant in Santa Ynez, and the critics don’t lie…great atmosphere and authentic Italian cuisine.
Our last day in the Santa Ynez Valley started in Buelton, the largest town in the Valley. As Justin was there for work, we met up with a few of his clients and colleagues for lunch and touring the town of Solvang. We had a descent meal at the Greenhouse Café and enjoyed nice conversation on the patio.
It was suggested that we visit the Dierberg Winery out past Buelton, which we had passed on our bikes, so we took a quick trip and explored the area and tasting venue. The wine was delish and the company even better.
Rushing back to our hotel, we quickly changed for the wine walk and outdoor theater event we were to attend later that evening at the Solvang Theater. The production was Fiddler on the Roof, and it did not for a second disappoint. Watching the play, well into the sunset, with my husband was a fantastic way to end our time in the Valley. Until we meet again…
As we left the Valley the following day, we were filled with anticipation, as we knew Disneyland was hours away. Tickets purchased, energy loaded, and kid faces on, we entered the park and began our Disney Journey. Rides, Disney characters, skipping, walking, more rides, popcorn, goofiness, more rides, and fireworks…it was magical.
We even had a yummy dinner at Tortilla Jo’s