Amy Risley

The Alisal

  • Where:
  • Why:A getaway with my giddy up girls
  • When:January 2015
  • Who:Me, Erica Domesek & Megalyn Echikunwoke
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The Alisal Our favorite guide, Meghan. Everyone on the staff has the same welcoming smile, but she's the only one who was down to belt

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 Alisal The warm & spacious living room in our suite. Each of the couches pulls out into a bed.

The warm & spacious living room in our suite. Each of the couches pulls out into a bed.

The Alisal Erica's expression: a clear indication of how she feels about sharing the master suite with one of us.

Erica's expression: a clear indication of how she feels about sharing the master suite with one of us.

The Alisal 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.

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.

The Alisal Let's be friends. All of us.

Let's be friends. All of us.

The Alisal 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.

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.

The Alisal Authenticity down to the details.

Authenticity down to the details.

The Alisal A cozy nook in the Oak Room.

A cozy nook in the Oak Room.

The Alisal 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.

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.

The Alisal Ample room for lounging by the large pool.

Ample room for lounging by the large pool.

The Alisal City Slicker vibes.

City Slicker vibes.

The Alisal Magnificent views as we set off on a misty morning breakfast ride.

Magnificent views as we set off on a misty morning breakfast ride.

The Alisal Families and friends gathered at the Old Adobe for breakfast at the end of an hour long trail ride.

Families and friends gathered at the Old Adobe for breakfast at the end of an hour long trail ride.

The Alisal Take that, iHop.

Take that, iHop.

The Alisal Our recipe for ranch dressing = denim on denim on denim.

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.

The Barometer

  • Design

  • Website

  • Environmental Consciousness

  • Night's Sleep

  • Service

  • Amenities

  • Takeable Treats

  • Refer a Friend

  • Overall Value

  • Life Changing

Total: 48/50

Important Bits

  • Type

    Guest Ranch & Resort

  • Vibe

    The perfect home on the range for adventurers and romantics alike.

  • Location

    In the breathtaking Santa Ynez Valley, just a 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles and about 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara.

  • Rooms

    73 Suites & Studios

  • Music

    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.

  • Health & Wellness

    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.

  • Restaurant

    The Ranch Room: Cali cuisine with a Western, homestyle touch in a formal but cozy lodge setting.

  • Bar

    The Oak Room: Perfect spot for apres outing appetizers and local wines by the fire.

  • Minibar

    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.

  • Children

    Bring the whole family! Tons of activities for kids like crafting, a petting zoo and mini horses.

  • Price

    Expensive but worth the all inclusiveness and unmatched experience.

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