Are you traveling to Santa Barbara? If so, what about exploring a small town? This guide will show you the best things to do in Buellton, a town known for its good food and wine tasting rooms.
I consider Santa Barbara County my home away from home.
We visit 3 or 4 times per year. We have friends there. We are greeted by name in a lot of places. And, since we love the area, you bet we have been to a lot of different places around the county.
We are particularly fond of the Santa Ynez Valley, a fertile swath of land located about 30 miles from Santa Barbara (the city and seat of the county).
Solvang may be the most popular city but, to me, each town in the Valley has something special.
That is why I am so happy to tell you everything about Buellton, a small town adjacent to Solvang but worlds apart.
Let’s discover everything Buellton has to offer!
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How to Reach Buellton
Buellton is located 35 miles from Santa Barbara, 70 miles from San Luis Obispo and 128 miles from Los Angeles.
From Santa Barbara, it is faster to reach Buellton using CA-154. This scenic route will take you through the San Marcos Pass and the Santa Ynez Mountains. You can also reach Buellton using US-101 (the freeway). This route affords incredible views of the Gaviota Coast, one of the largest undeveloped coastal areas in California.
A good idea is to take CA-154 to go to the town and return through US-101. If you are driving at night, I recommend taking the freeway.
Get ready for a day of sightseeing by bringing the right gear. Here is a list of the items I pack to explore cities and towns in California.
- Walking Shoes – Comfortable walking shoes are a must. I recommend investing in a good pair. My go-to brands are Clarks, Tevas, and Sketchers.
- Anti-Theft Bag – Keep your belongings safe by keeping them in an anti-theft bag. The ones manufactured by Travelon have a 5-points security system including an RFID blocking pocket. >>Check out their crossbody bag here If you prefer a backpack, this one is a good option
- Sweatshirt – A sweatshirt is a must to keep me warm during chilly mornings and nights. >Click to see this California appropriate option here
- Sun Block – Do not leave the house (or the car) without applying sunblock. I repeat, always wear sunblock when outdoors. >Buy sunblock here
- Lip Balm with Sunscreen – Protect your lips by applying a balm with sunscreen. >Get one of the best lip balms here
- Wide Brim Hat – A wide brim hat is a great way to protect your scalp, face, and neck. The ones manufactured by FURTALK come with an anti-UV function. >Buy this amazing hat here
- Hand Sanitizer – Do not forget to pack hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Sunglasses – These are another must when it comes to protecting from the sun. A polarized, sporty pair works better outdoors. >Take a look at this wonderful pair
- Water Bottle – Do not forget to bring water! Keep yours cold by taking a beautiful Hydro Flask water bottle. >Check out the insane options here
- THERMOS Tumblers – I have been a fan of the THERMOS brand since I received a tumbler as a gift. The tumblers keep drinks hot for hours. >>Buy THERMOS insulated tumblers here
- Camera – I have never gotten used to taking pictures exclusively with my phone. I prefer to use the Sony Alpha a6000. It is compact and takes gorgeous pictures. >Buy Sony Camera here
- Tripod – A compact tripod to take your photos and videos to a different level. >>Check out this popular option here
- Portable Power Bank – It is a pain to keep phones charged on trips (more if you are taking pictures, posting on social media, and navigating). Having a power bank is a lifesaver. The Anker portable charger can charge a phone 5 times. >Buy this incredible power bank here
Things to Do in Buellton
In this article, I am going to concentrate on things to do in Buellton (within city limits). Once, I am done discussing local ideas, I will touch briefly on nearby attractions.
Have Breakfast in Ellen’s Danish Pancake House
Ellen’s is one of my favorite (if not the favorite) places to have breakfast in the Santa Ynez Valley. I have to admit I even stop there when road tripping to other points north.
They have on the menu rolled pancakes (filled with applesauce, blueberries or pineapple), Danish pancakes, French toast, omelettes and breakfast combinations (a protein, eggs, hashbrown, and toast).
I have tried a lot of their dishes and they have been all delicious. Plus, portions are huge! You may have to wait a bit to grab a seat during the weekends.
Wine Taste to Your Heart’s Content
So, Buellton is located right in the middle of wine county. Because of that, you can expect to find multiple tasting rooms in the city. The big advantage is that tasting rooms tend to be less crowded than in other wine towns in the area. You can have a more intimate experience and talk about all things wine in a relaxed setting.
Industrial Way can be seen as the wine tasting epicenter of Buellton. In there, you will find over 10 tasting rooms. That is enough to keep you busy (I hope) for one day or two.
Imagine Wine is my favorite spot. The winemaker has been in business for years and focuses on quality (not quantity). Moreover, if he is pouring wine, you will be able to learn a lot about grapes varietals and processing techniques.
Kalyra and Cholame have fun tasting rooms and delicious wines. The staff is super friendly and you are not rushed.
Alma Rosa has a gorgeous tasting room (one of the most beautiful and modern I have seen in the area). Right away, you will notice this place is all about a luxurious experience. But, their tastings are more expensive than in other places and I feel like the pourings are stingy. I would recommend visiting it as part of a celebration weekend (birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc.)
There is a smaller cluster of tasting rooms on 2nd Street. The place to visit here is Standing Sun Wines. The tasting room tends to attract a younger crowd with a hip vibe, tons of color and live music.
There are more tasting rooms along Highway 246. Red wine lovers should not miss a visit to Ken Brown, a winery specializing on Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills (located on the western part of the Santa Ynez Valley) and Santa Maria Valley.
If you want to have a vineyard experience, you can head to Mosby Winery and Vineyard. You will be able to enjoy pourings while surrounded by vines and trees.
Go Beer Tasting
Those who prefer beer will be happy to know that Buellton has a lot to offer in that category.
As a matter of fact, Buellton is home to the original location of the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. I remember when the taproom in town was the only one around. In a short period of time, the brewery has found great success. They have expanded to other towns on the Central Coast.
Buellton’s location offers about 35 beers on tap. They offer eating options such as burgers, tri-tip sandwiches, nachos, wings, and tacos.
Firestone Walker Brewery Company, another Central California native, has a taproom located in the town as well. They have about 15 beers on tap and a full menu.
In addition, they have a facility called Barrelworks. This separate tasting room offers beers from the company’s wild ale and barrel-aged programs. This is a place where you will find complete new flavors and textures.
Photo by Sara Thompson
Visit the Mendenhall’s Museum
If we want to talk about out-of-the-ordinary museums, we need to include Mendenhall’s. This institution has the largest petroliana collection on the United State’s west coast.
Petroliana refers to items related to gas stations or the petroleum industry. The Mendenhall’s Museum is a treasure trove of gas pumps, gas globes, road signs, fuel advertisements, road maps, and even race cars.
You may think this does not sound interesting at all but wait till you see the collection. It is an explosion of colors and interesting facts.
To visit, you need to book a tour. You can find more details here.
Have Lunch or Dinner at Industrial Eats
Repeat after me, “I want to go to Industrial Eats, I want to go to Industrial Eats!”
If you have room in your brain for only one recommendation, please make sure to stop by Industrial Eats.
The food here is so so good. I am not kidding. Ask a local and he or she will probably mention the place as one of their favorites to eat.
The dishes are fresh, creative (they put together things you would never imagine will go well with each other) and ever-changing (the menu is handwritten on pieces of brown packing paper).
In the deli section, they have Cuban, Ban Mi, Meatball, Smoked Turkey and Beef Tongue sandwiches. They prepare prosciutto, fennel sausage, skirt steak, and gorgonzola pizzas on their own oven.
Their sharing plates showcase their mastery of ingredients and include things such as pheasant, rabbit, miso cod, mussels, and porchetta. The vegetarian/vegan dishes are to die for too.
Pay them a visit and thank me later.
Try Santa Maria-style BBQ
Santa Maria-style BBQ is California’s autochthonous BBQ style. As the name implies, this tradition originated in the Santa Maria Valley (located 33 miles from Buellton, both cities are located in Santa Barbara County).
The Hitching Post is one of the classic places to get this feast. The original location is in Casmalia but a second “post” has been opened in Buellton.
A BBQ plate includes tri-tip, pinquito beans, salsa, salad and French bread dipped in butter.
The Hitching Post is a phenomenal steakhouse serving top sirloin, filet mignon, New York steak and other cuts. Pork, lamb, and fowl are also served.
Glamp or Stay at the Flying Flags Resort
I cannot say enough good things about the Flying Flags Resort.
Every time I stay there, I do not feel like leaving. Amenities include pools, hot tubs, playgrounds, a splash zone, a fireside patio, a cafe, bocce ball courts, a sports courts, wi-fi, laundry room and much more. They even give you a chocolate chip cookie when you check-in.
Their accommodation options are varied. They offer visitors the opportunity to stay in safari tents, cottages, and vintage trailers. Or, if you have an RV, you can park it at the resort.
The location is ideal to enjoy all that Buellton and the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer. Give it a check if you are visiting the area.
Have a Picnic at the River View Park
If you are looking for a picnic spot, the River View Park has shaded areas with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
Along the same line, the park is ideal for those traveling with kids and pets. There is plenty of space to run, stretch and play. Short walking trails and a community built botanical garden are an added bonus.
The park is located very close to the main wine tasting areas and the main road (highway 246).
Note: If you are traveling with your dog, you may prefer to visit PAWS Park on the other side of town. This park offers a huge space for dogs to run off-leash.
Play a Round or Two of Golf
At the Zaca Creek Golf Course, you can play 9-holes with views of the surrounding hill and a nearby river. The best part is that prices are affordable ($14 for one round, $20 to play all day).
Attend a Local Event
Local events are a great way to get to know a place and meet people. Plus, the fun factor is high! And, I can attest how awesome events at the Santa Ynez Valley are. Here are some events to consider:
- Wine and Chilli Festival (March)
- Fish Derby (April)
- Brew Fest (May)
Things to Do in Buellton – Nearby Attractions
The Santa Ynez Valley is full of beautiful towns and fun attractions. There is plenty to do in the area. Below are some ideas on what to add to your Buellton stay.
Solvang – This is California’s Little Denmark. Visit to discover all sorts of Danish treats (architecture, food, sweets). Solvang is located about 3 miles from Solvang and has a considerably larger selection of services (restaurants, hotels, etc.)
If you are spending some time in Solvang or visiting for a day, I recommend you take a look at my detailed article on Things to Do in Solvang.
Keep exploring by checking out the following posts:
Solvang Bakeries and Sweet Treats
Ostrichland USA – A fun spot where you can feed ostriches and emus
Quicksilver Ranch – Ranch breeding miniature horses. The public is welcome to stop by to take a look at the horses for free
Los Olivos -This is the main wine-tasting town of the Valley. Visit if you are interested in trying the fruits of the vines. I have a complete guide on Things to Do in Los Olivos
Chumash Casino Resort – This is a spot for those who enjoy gambling and buffets
Things to Do in Buellton – Where to Eat
I know I have already discussed some great places to eat in the “Things to Do” section. But, there is more!
There is no such thing as too many food recommendations (right?)
Morrell’s Farm Fresh Dining – This restaurant serves simple but delicious fare. Menu options include Chinese chicken salad, chicken & brie sandwiches, cheese ravioli, burgers, and flat iron steaks. They have a brunch menu for the weekends.
La Botte Bistro – Guys, you need to try this Italian restaurant! Dishes are the stuff of dreams. I cannot get enough of their Caprese appetizer, Meditteranean salad, baked salmon and butternut squash ravioli. They serve dessert and have a decent wine list.
Mother Hubbard’s – This local favorite has been in business for 40 years. You can get dishes such a Hubbard Cakes (apple, pecan, and cinnamon), pork chops with blackberry BBQ sauce and Chardonnay Shrimp.
La Tequila – There are several Mexican restaurants in Buellton but I would choose La Tequila over any day. I am a fan of their molcajete, enchiladas and chiles rellenos.
Pattibakes – You will think a “new” bakery would have no success in a land where Danish bakeries abound. But, Pattibakes has been able to make a name for itself with its delicious creations. They prepare pastries, pies, cake, bread, and quiche. The cafe offers salads, cold/hot sandwiches, and homemade soup.
Hope you have found this guide to things to do in Buellton useful. Let me know if you have any questions!
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