by: Amy Risley
A getaway with my giddy up girls
Me, Erica Domesek & Megalyn Echikunwoke
Our favorite guide, Meghan. Everyone on the staff has the same welcoming smile, but she's the only one who was down to belt "Wide Open Spaces" by The Dixie Chicks at the top of her lungs with us while we rode together.
The warm & spacious living room in our suite. Each of the couches pulls out into a bed.
Erica's expression: a clear indication of how she feels about sharing the master suite with one of us.
On day one we opted for a fishing excursion. The staff hooks you up with your own rowboat and sets you off on the gorgeous lake with poles and bait. Erica caught a giant Bass. Mega caught some zzz's.
Let's be friends. All of us.
My bud Blackjack. This was only my third time on a horse, but after the first day of riding and lots of helpful instruction from the guides, I felt right at home on the range.
Authenticity down to the details.
A cozy nook in the Oak Room.
The Ranch Room, where breakfast and dinner are served. If you're lucky you'll be serenaded by a piano player singing showtunes at night.
Ample room for lounging by the large pool.
City Slicker vibes.
Magnificent views as we set off on a misty morning breakfast ride.
Families and friends gathered at the Old Adobe for breakfast at the end of an hour long trail ride.
Take that, iHop.
Our recipe for ranch dressing = denim on denim on denim.
Highs + Lows
My favorite thing about traveling these days is going after active experiences vs. checking out and lying on a beach. With a slew of options all on one property, you can check off horseback riding, fishing, archery, hiking, biking, massages, etc. all in a quick weekend trip. And its location makes it ideal for a trip any time of year.
There's a wonderful sense of tradition, authenticity and loyalty here; from the dedicated staff (some of whom have been there for 20+ years) to the multi-generation families we met who have been coming back year after year.
For a novice rider like myself saddling up was still a bit daunting...but the staff uses great caution, care and knowledge to get you riding comfortably on one of their friendly, well trained horses in no time.
Technically it's a bonus that there are no TVs or music players in the rooms, but just note you might want to bring an iPad or phone dock.
- Life Changing
- Environmental Consciousness
- Overall Value
- Night's Sleep
- Stealable Stuff
- Refer a Friend
Guest Ranch & Resort
The perfect home on the range for adventurers and romantics alike.
In the breathtaking Santa Ynez Valley, just a 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles and about 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara.
73 Suites & Studios
Mother Nature's mix tape.
- Year Opened
Opened as a guest ranch in 1946, a number of suites underwent major renovations in 2014.
- Designed By
Unknown- but that cowboy had good taste.
Yes to both, plus a slew of activities. The highlights: horseback riding, fishing, archery, hiking, air rifle shooting, mountain biking...and a full service spa for winding down.
The Ranch Room: Cali cuisine with a Western, homestyle touch in a formal but cozy lodge setting.
The Oak Room: Perfect spot for apres outing appetizers and local wines by the fire.
No, but they dropped off some treats and wine upon arrival (and made us a fire!). There are also snacks & sundries for sale in the lobby.
Bring the whole family! Tons of activities for kids like crafting, a petting zoo and mini horses.
Expensive but worth the all inclusiveness and unmatched experience.
In the Area
The breakfast ride
1054 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA, United States
The highlight of the organized activities at Alisal; it's a great way to meet everyone, see the beautiful surroundings, and enjoy some authentic home cookin' (no flapjacks were harmed in the taking of this picture).
Los Olivos, CA, United States
A charming, historic town less than thirty minutes away with tons of tasting rooms and cute shops all within walking distance...and it's also home to Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.
1024 Coast Village Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, United States
Montecito Country Mart is a great pit stop on the way up from Los Angeles, and this tiny gem is full of incredibly curated, stylish treasures.
1054 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA, United States