We spent 6 days here in August and had a wonderful family vacation. We've never been on a Ranch vacation and everyone - my in-laws, us and the kids- had a great time. The fun never stopped.
I think people have pretty much covered all the cool things to do here. It's really a family place and a great place to entertain multi-generational groups. My in-laws had their own separate room (which was one of the newest and was very nicely appointed) and enjoyed two days of golf. They liked that it was relaxing, no one had to worry about cooking and my MIL took the shuttle down to Solvang for window shopping twice (totally her thing). My husband got in a hike and played tennis. He signed up for a group lesson but no one else showed so he had a private lesson and loved it. He got to talking to the tennis pro and he set up my hubby with a friend to play. Hubby has never gotten to play tennis on a family vacation before so this was just the best for him. I guess even better because he beat the guy (who is really good) and then the guy wanted to play again (he loss the second time) so he was stoked to get in three days of tennis! My daughter also played "pee-wee" tennis and Walt and the teen girls that played with my daughter were great. She had fun!
The horse riding was amazing. They have so many trails! My daughter who rides horses, was in heaven! We did a group trail ride and two breakfast rides. I used to ride and was able to keep up with her as the the horses are well trained. The wranglers are personable and all the little girls just love all the girl wranglers - which I thought was great for them to see strong confident women doing something they love. We had Haddie twice and my daughter loved her.
My younger one was too little for the horseback riding but was able to enjoy free pony rides and hung out at the barn. You can pick eggs each day and on your last day they will send some home with you. You can spend hours hanging with all the animals in the barn. One day they brought out a mini petting zoo in the parking lot with snakes, iguanas, rats, birds, etc. The kids loved it! It wasn't on the schedule so it was a nice surprise.
Speaking of schedule, this place is like being on a cruise without the sea sickness. There's a full schedule of events, with something for everyone. Teen night at the lake, family movie on the lawn at night, astronomy talk for the kids after dinner, craft room for the kids, pool games, air riffles, fishing, tennis lessons, the list goes on. If you don't like the scheduled stuff, there's so much else to do (catch the shuttle to Solvang, for example) but it's okay to do nothing too! We spent some time doing just that at the pool or at the lake!
I really could go on about all the fun things we did. But I think you get my point. There are three downsides to this place. While the property is immaculate and just amazing, the rooms are a bit "rustic". No AC, no TV, no phone, and depending on where your room is Wi-Fi is a bit spotty. Not sure when some of these bed spreads were last washed. But I took it as part of the ranch experience. The other downside is that nearly everything you do is ala carte. Other dude ranch vacations we looked at had all the activities included. This place is not cheap to begin with and then to add on each activity adds up. And lastly, it's REALLY hard to get in. There are families that have been coming for YEARS. Like we met an 11 year old girl that said it was her 11th year there. Returning guests get priority for the same week the following summer. And most people make their reservations when they check out. I can tell you that my MIL was thinking this is a one-time deal but after a great week, she was sitting down with the reservationist on our last day trying to reserve for next summer! (sadly, we're on a wait list because we need to move a week earlier for 2013 and there's no space)
All in all, if you can get in, you'll have a great time. The staff is wonderful. The food is good and the experience you'll have is tops. Experience the great outdoors in this beautiful ranch!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and renowned Santa Barbara County wine country. Privately owned and operated since 1946, the Alisal is a working cattle ranch and full-service resort. This historic ranch is one of four original Spanish land grants on the west coast given to conquistador Raimundo Carrillo in the late 1700’s. Today, the romance and majesty of the old west remain in the wide-open spaces and unspoiled natural beauty of the Alisal. They serve as a reminder of simpler times and as an invitation to those with a taste for adventure. As California's premier guest ranch, the Alisal transports guests back to a bygone era. Set on a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch, this one-of-a-kind resort blends the best of nature with exceptional golf, horseback riding, tennis, fishing on a 100-acre private lake, fitness center and spa, children's activities, barnyard activities and fine dining. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alisal Guest Ranch Hotel Solvang
- Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort
- Alisal Hotel Solvang
- Alisal Resort Solvang
- Alisal Ranch Solvang
- The Alisal Guest Ranch