I have always wanted to stop by Santa Ynez. After all, the famous grape growing region in Santa Barbara County bears the town’s name (or is vice versa?).
Research did not reveal a lot of action in this small town so I placed it (very) low in my list of spots to check in the valley.
The intervention of a friend back in Oxnard turned my attention back to the town. While enjoying some mean Thai food, he started to sing praises about Santa Ynez. At that time, I still didn’t have the town in my plans.
After driving the last 90 miles to Lompoc under a thick cloud of haze, we felt unimpressed by the city’s lack of character and closed businesses. The sun started to show its face around 6:00 p.m. With another three hours of daylight, my husband suggested getting out of Lompoc. The final destination seemed to be Solvang but I remembered the words of my friend back in Oxnard.
“Let’s check Santa Ynez before our final stop of the day,” I said excited.
And that is how after driving thru rolling hills, vineyards and plantations, we arrived to the one street town of Santa Ynez.
I have been calling Santa Ynez a town but I am not sure it can even be called that. The place is officially a Census Designated Place (CDP) with a little bit more than 4,000 residents. Too be honest, the place is so small that I cannot imagine 4,000 people around there.
The town is best known for its Chumash Casino and an inn that gets glowing reviews from TripAdvisor and other websites powered by user’s reviews. Locals seem to hang out in a Mexican restaurant called Dos Carlitos. We experienced some sort of “rush” hour when people were trying to cross the street in order to enter the restaurant.
Well, size in this case was not important to me. The town full of western style architecture is the perfect place to use as a base to explore the area. Galleries, good restaurants and cozy guest houses, surprisingly, abound in town. Numerous vineyards, ranches and equine centers are located nearby. The towns of Solvang and Los Olivos are located a few miles from town. In short, the area major attractions are easy to access while enjoying the good life from a charming town.
Check out this photos to find out why Santa Ynez captured my heart.
Have you been to Santa Ynez?