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Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

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Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

My husband and I (early 30's) will be traveling to Santa Barbara in late Feb for a 3 day weekend. Since we don't get away alot without our young kids, we are looking for a fun, yet relaxing weekend. We enjoy good food, wine, beautiful scenery. We will be flying into LAX and out of Burbank if anyone has any suggestions for scenic stops/restaurants on the way to/from SB. We would like to drive along the PCH for the most scenic ride. I was thinking we would spend the first two days exploring Santa Barbara, see downtown, walk on the beach, and possibly take a segway tour to Butterfly Beach from SB (this tour is rated very well on tripadvisor and seems like it would be a pretty and fun ride?). Also, our hotel in the west beach area of SB provides free bikes - what are the best places for a scenic ride? Would be open to other suggestions as well!

What I would really like to know, what are the "must see/do" things in Santa Barbara? Especially scenic things. We will only have 2 days here.

My next question - I was thinking on Sunday, our third and last day, maybe we would drive 40 min. north and check out some of the vineyards in the Santa Ynez area and downtown Solvang. Is this worth a trip? We like small, quaint towns and good wine so this sounded nice. I am wondering however if I'm cramming too much in. Given we only have 3 days, should we spend all of it in Santa Barbara, or will we have covered Santa Barbara in the first two days and it is worth spending our last day in the Solvang area? Is this area particularly scenic? (I can go to vineyards on the east coast where we live, I am most interested in going to the Solvang/Santa Ynez area if it's a pretty, scenic area to check out?)

Are there any quaint, scenic towns within an hour north or south of SB that are a "must see"?

Would appreciate any feedback! Thanks!

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1. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

I'll answer your last questions first. Santa Ynez is well worth visiting and, if planned properly, you can easily do Santa Barbara in two days.

In Santa Barbara I would suggest, and can recommend, the trolley tour. It's a couple of hours at most, offers an interesting insight into the city and you can hop on and off meaning you can use it as transport. Stearn's Wharf... the Courthouse... The Mission... all stops along the way.

I should point out that you don't get the best stretch of the coastal highway in this area. Great, yes, but it's not the bit people talk about, which is Cambria to Carmel, a lot further north.

In Santa Ynez all the towns are pretty and quaint. Solvang, obviously, but Los Olivos and Santa Ynez as well.

Let me make one and only one suggestion for the area: Rancho Sisquoc Winery.

Check out the location on Google Maps. It's a forty minute drive north of the Santa Ynez Valley towns but take note of the road it's on - Foxen Canyon Road. A better wine country drive you will not find. Or I have not found. In five, six or seven wine regions.

Rancho Sisquoc itself is a gem. A absolute gem. It's hard(ish) to get to, in the middle of nowhere and so, so rewarding to experience when you are there. I can't comment on the wine, although my girlfriend said it was great, but the scenery is staggering.

If you went you would come back and want to buy me dinner as a thank you for giving you the tip!

I like steak.

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2. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

LDN_2009, thank you for all the info. Rancho Sisquoc sounds great. We will only be in the Solvang area from 11am until 4/5pm on Sunday because we fly out of LAX that same night and need to drive back down. Having said that, is it still worth the extra 40 minute drive north to see Rancho Sisquoc or are there scenic vineyards closer to Solvang that might be a close second choice? If you do still suggest the ride up to Rancho, are there any other vineyards with great scenery off Foxen Canyon Rd that should not be missed (guessing we will only have time for 2 or 3 vineyards at most)? Thanks!!

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3. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Leaving Santa Barbara on a Sunday afternoon to head back to LA will be a traffic nightmare! If you're going to visit the wine country, do it on Saturday and mill around Santa Barbara on Sunday until 2 pm and then start the drive back to LA. The later in the afternoon it gets, the more the freeway will turn into a parking lot!! You don't want to make that drive after wine tasting and you certainly don't want to risk missing your flight by getting stuck in late Sunday afternoon traffic on Highway 101 southbound from Angelinos returning home from their weekend getaways.

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4. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Santa Ynez/Los Olivos wineries: Andrew Murray, Bridlewood, Sunstone

If you follow the route suggested by LDN_2009, then Rancho Sisquoc & Foxen are highly recommended along the Foxen Canyon Road wine trail.

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5. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Foxen Canyon Road is the best wine country drive I've ever done. Worth every second.

You pick up the road just ten minutes from Solvang and there are countless wineries and tasting rooms along the thirty minute drive to Rancho Sisquoc.

www.foxencanyonwinetrail.com

Edited: 6:38 pm, February 10, 2013
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6. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Great thanks everyone! So it sounds like the vineyards on foxen canyon rd are worth the extra drive as opposed to staying down by sunstone in the solvang area?

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7. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Great thanks everyone! So it sounds like the vineyards on foxen canyon rd are worth the extra drive as opposed to staying down by sunstone in the solvang area?

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8. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

Kibblesmom, just saw your traffic post. We are actually flying out of Burbank, not lax. We need to be at the airport at 730pm. What time should we leave solvang and is there a suggested route for less traffic? Thanks!

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9. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

They're all good options. If you're up to driving further afield, then go for Foxen Canyon Road.

If you want to include a visit to Solvang, just focus on Santa Ynez/Los Olivos.

BTW- One of my favorite spots near Solvang is Nojoqui Falls Park. There's a sweet little hike up to a waterfall that will likely be flowing pretty good at the time of your visit. You might enjoy a bit of nature along with the visit out in the vineyards. Take Alisal Road west from Solvang approx. 4 miles. You'll pass the Alisal Guest Ranch on the way.

Have fun!

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10. Re: Best itinerary for weekend without kids in SB? Vineyards?

"....Kibblesmom, just saw your traffic post. We are actually flying out of Burbank, not lax. We need to be at the airport at 730pm. What time should we leave solvang and is there a suggested route for less traffic? Thanks!".....

Same rules apply. LAX/Burbank. Doesn't matter. The only way back to LA and Burbank is through Santa Barbara on Highway 101, which will be heavy will return traffic late Sunday afternoon. There may be a road through the mountains into Ojai and back down to Highway 101, but then you'll end up back in heavy traffic through Ventura/Oxnard.

I've seen that traffic when returning from LA and it's horrific! You really need to be on the road by 2 pm at the latest or it could take hours to get to Burbank!