Photo credits by Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is one of the few remaining places where time stands still. There are no televisions or phones in the rooms. You can access the Internet—but not reliably and in few spots. This ranch promotes its beauty and outdoor activities in a refined, rustic setting.
Visit Alisal Ranch, and you will instantly understand why many guests have made this destination a family tradition for more than a half-century. Nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara wine country, this is truly a one-of-a-kind ranch resort—blending horseback riding, fishing, golf, tennis, spa treatments and the list goes on. Of course, Alisal (cattle ranching since the 1800s and hosting guests since the 1940s) is full of livestock, hiking, biking and at-one-with-nature relaxation.
Find comfortable guest cottages (73 rooms and suites) all with a wood-burning fireplace, plus 50 miles of horseback riding trails, a 100-acre lake, two 18-hole golf courses and a fitness center—this resort has something (or some things) for just about everyone. You won’t ever go hungry, as Alisal feeds its guests well: the steaks are superb (as is everything on the menu). Be sure to try a local wine or beer to go with your meal.
What I love most about this resort is that it’s not pretentious in any way; instead it is easy, relaxed. And you may just make a new best friend—I loved seeing the mix of couples, millennials and multigenerational travelers all together with the true modern necessities of life: family, outdoors, exploration, great food and great views. Taking a break from television and digital devices to experience the moment—isn’t that what life is truly about?
- From June through Labor Day, the resort offers youth and teen programs. Other activities include horseback riding on numerous trails of 10,000 acres.
- Experience the morning ride or the group breakfast ride, which leaves at 7:30 a.m. This will be one of life’s most magical experiences, guaranteed. The trail rides are just one of the many wondrous ways to take in the expansive property.
- Take your best shot at Alisal’s Archery & Air Rifle Range (minimum age to participate is 8). Visit the Barn to meet Alisal’s horses. Enjoy the custom egg gathering, which is fun for all ages.
- In the spring, head to the resort’s 100-acre private lake for excellent boating and fishing.
- Hiking and nature walks (guided or on your own), swimming, guided mountain biking and road rides are also available.
- Indulge in the 6,500-square-foot spa for a massage, scrub, facial mud wrap or body treatment.
- Any time of year is perfect for a visit. With California’s sublime weather, you can typically expect comfortable warm days, crisp evenings and plenty of sunshine. Alisal is located 30 minutes from Santa Barbara. Minutes away from the ranch are more than 75 renowned vineyards and wineries and the charming Danish village of Solvang. (805) 688-6411; alisal.com
Barbecue Boot Camp
Mark your calendars for May 10-12, 2017 for the annual spring Barbecue Boot Camp event, where you will enjoy seminars, tastings, spice blending workshops and more with Frank Ostini, owner, chef and winemaker of Hitching Post II. Frank’s restaurant and wines were featured in the Academy Award-winning film Sideways. Pick up tips and tricks to be the ultimate barbecue expert while noshing on amazing grilled food, sipping fabulous wine and making new friends.