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Everyone needs a break from the daily grind even if it's just for 24hrs and there's no sweeter location than the Santa Ynez Valley. Located 30 miles North of Santa Barbara, between two grand mountainous ranges, the SYV boasts some seriously charming towns. From the well known (Solvang) to the lesser knowns (Los Olivos) there's so much to experience.


Clairmont Farms in Los Olivos
Where lavender dreams are made. I'm a self-imposed "Lavender freak" which means that I collect it wherever possible, in whatever form. I need those calm vibes 24/7 and I know I'm not alone. A stop at Clairmont farms is not complete without leaving with some lavender goods and my night-time staple is the Face and Pillow Mist that is better than anything in life. Really though, I've purchased many so-called "lavender mist" imposters on the market and this is the real deal.

The Farmstead in Goleta
As a Los Angeles native - the idea of fruit picking is as foreign as it gets to me. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I picked my first fruits within my late twenties. But really - it was just last week. Now that it's behind me and I'm a professional fruit picker, I recommend visiting the Farmstead in Goleta. It's a few miles out of the Santa Ynez Valley loop but it's worth the trip, if not for the sweet on-site animals (those unassuming hogs will devour squash blossoms like nobodies business) do it for the bundles of organic produce. Now that's L.A. 


Alpacas at West Ranch & Miniature Horses Los Olivos 
As an animal-lover, visiting local farms within the valley is a must-do. We stop at Quicksilver Ranch almost every time that we're in the area, miniature horses are adorable. Even California's own, Huell Howser, was won over. The alpacas at West Ranch are a sentimental fave and don't forget to see the local animals at the above-mentioned Farmstead.

Scandinavian Kitsch in Solvang
When most people think of Santa Ynez - Solvang and it's kitschy Danish influence usually come to mind. I must admit that my first trip to the area many years ago, was because of Solvang. These days it's mainly a quick pit stop for Christmas decorations at the Jule House and "staycation-ing" at the Landsby. If you enjoy travel anomalies and aebleskivers - this will be right up your alley.


Lunch at Panino
There are a few Panino locations throughout Santa Barbara County that offer delicious sandwiches and salads. We love stopping at the one in Los Olivos right on Grand Avenue (where most of the action is) but any location will do. A hangout approved by locals and fellow sandwich aficionados.

Happy Hour and Dinner at Mad & Vin
A must-visit happy hour takes place from 4:00-6:30pm each day, serving great cocktails (my favorite is the Pirate's Cove) and bites (can't go wrong with the charcuterie board) all within a stylish atmosphere. Dinner is served in a more formal dining space nearby is truly delicious.

Dessert at Enjoy Cupcakes
I might be a little biased seeing as our wedding cake was made by Enjoy Cupcakes, but we always grab a cupcake flight each time that we're in the area (also available in the Santa Barbara Public Market). Their eclectic offerings change each week (check their site for the weekly menu) and are crazy good - churro cupcake anyone? Also perfect to split at picnics or alongside impromptu wine drinking.


The Landsby in Solvang
So dreamy. The Landsby pretty much nails it when it comes to decor, dining options and location. It's located in the heart of Solvang's bustling streets but feels like a slice of Scandinavia meets California. We recently stayed for a night and took advantage of their happy hour, outdoor space and European-style breakfast. A return trip is definitely in order!


Wine tasting... everywhere. Notably Dreamcote in Los Olivos & Bridlewood Estate in Santa Ynez
There are more than 100 wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley so wine tasting is a must if you enjoy that kind of thing. I recently visited Dreamcote (good wines & free flavored popcorn!) and Bridlewood (amazing grounds) and had a fun time. Truth be told - Donald and I haven't even scratched the surface yet so I'll add more to this list after future trips. If you have tips, let me know!

For a useful map of all locations mentioned, click here! 

Photographs by Valerie Enriquez. 

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