Los Angeles has a lot to offer: Studio City, Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, hiking the Hollywood hills — and that’s just in the downtown area. Forgo a day of celeb-spotting and hob-knobbing, battle the traffic out of the city, and head north toward California’s lesser-known wine regions of Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez.
The road trip can be done in a day, making it a perfect escape from the chaos of L.A. Head north on the 101 and get your camera ready.
About an hour-and-a-half in, you’ll hit the edge of Santa Barbara, where the tired highway roads turn into a picturesque Pacific coast landscape. Follow the ocean into the city and start your day at some of the historic landmarks (Casa de la Guerra), luxury shopping (Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom) and art galleries (Artamo Gallery, Gallery 113) in the center of town. Lunch is better with a glass of wine, so don’t miss a chance to sip a few favorites at these Santa Barbara wineries:
Firestone Vineyard is one of the more famous wineries, and one where you can take daily tours (11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.) and have a picnic on the grounds. Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is named for the renowned actor, and is also one of the most expansive in the region. With almost 700 acres on four vineyards, you’re bound to find a varietal you like.
Just a little further up the coast is the Santa Ynez wine region. Often overlooked by its beautiful big sister, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez is the perfect blend of simplicity and tranquility among thousands of acres of open land. Head straight into Los Olivos, a tiny town flanked with art galleries (Gallery Los Olivos), boutiques (Bonita Summerland, Los Olivos General Store) and dozens of wine-tasting rooms. It’s here you’ll find top names such as Byron Estates and smaller, independent wine stores such as Artiste, a unique boutique that blends impressionist art with limited edition wines.
Instead of heading back to Los Angeles that day, treat yourself to a night in wine country. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bacara Resort & Spa features three heated saltwater swimming pools, an outdoor hot tub and a full-service Four-Star spa for ultimate relaxation with treatments such as healing stone therapy (using warm and cool basalt stones), Arnica massage infusion (with elements of Swedish, Shiatsu and Thai massages), and more.
The Four-Star Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is situated on 20 acres of lush landscape along the Pacific Ocean. Dine at one of the resort’s three restaurants — the Italian Bella Vista (try the signature crispy Branzino bass with summer beans, honey red onion and sherry dressing), California-focused Tydes (order the diver scallops with couscous as a main course) and the poolside Coral Café And Bar (for your standard burgers and sandwiches) — where you can also taste-test wines from around the region.
For something a little more authentic and intimate, check into the Four-Star San Ysidro Ranch, where former first couple John and Jackie Kennedy spent some of their honeymoon. The quaint décor set on 550 acres will make you feel like you’re in your own little Santa Barbara hideaway.
Photos Courtesy of Foley Family Wines and Bacara Resort and Spa