As a local in the Santa Maria Valley, you probably already know you don’t have to go too far from home to sip on some of the region’s best wines or craft beers, enjoy our iconic and delicious barbecue, peruse unique boutiques and antiques, and make the most of the great outdoors.
In case you’re looking for a bit of staycation inspiration, read on for my own recommendations and must-hit spots around the region!
First and foremost — where do you stay? I can help you there. If you haven’t stopped into the Wine Stone Inn yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. Act fast if you’re looking for a room, though, especially over a weekend.
The Wine Stone Inn is a 12-room boutique hotel in Old Town Orcutt — near many new restaurants, tasting rooms and boutiques. Guests can also enjoy extras such as spa amenities, welcome snacks, premium bedding, luxury bathrobes, locally made pastries, gourmet coffees, personal concierge services, and premier guest rooms with home-like furnishings.
Pro-tip: Even if you don’t stay here, make sure the hotel’s wine bar — the Vintage Room — is on your list! Other great local lodging options include many popular branded properties such as Fairfield Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn & Suites, Radisson Hotel and the Best Western Big America Plus just to name a few.
As you probably know, spring and summer in the Santa Maria Valley are the perfect times to take advantage of the gorgeous coastal climate and get outdoors.
One of my personal favorite spots is Los Flores Ranch Park. What I really love about Los Flores Ranch is that my family and I can choose our own adventures — between hiking trails and nature walks, horseback riding and mountain biking, there’s something for everyone and we can tailor our experience to the level of “adventure” we’re feeling that day.
If the coast and the ocean are more your thing, head over to Oso Flaco Lake, pack a picnic, bring that book you’re in the middle of reading, and take a leisurely stroll through the dunes to the coast to spend the day taking in the sound of the ocean waves. I’m feeling more relaxed already just writing about it.
One of, what I think, is one of the more unique aspects of our region is the agriculture. And not just that, but having the chance to harvest your own produce. Check out local favorite U-Pick Blueberries, and pick your own delicious strawberries and blueberries while staying safe and socially distanced. Sure, you can get fresh Santa Maria Valley produce at the grocery store and local farmers markets, but picking berries yourself is all part of the experience.
Next up — what’s a staycation without wine tasting? Hop in the car, on the motorcycle, or on a bike to cruise the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and pop into a few of the wineries and tasting rooms.
Being a local, you’ve likely been to most, if not all, of the tasting rooms along the trail. But if you haven’t done a cave tour while tasting at Cottonwood Canyon, you’re sorely missing out! During the tour, you’ll learn about the wine making process, how the caves influence the wines, and how to pair the various wines with food. Plus, how many times have you been in a cave? Don’t forget to call ahead to reserve your spot.
Now, if you’re like me, you like some good retail therapy. For local shopping spots in the Santa Maria Valley, look no further than Old Town Orcutt. Whether you’re looking for gifts, antiques, furniture or fashion, an easy stroll through town is all you need to get your fix.
Speaking of good eats — there are so many options, I don’t know where to begin. I lean a bit towards Italian food, so my go-tos are Bello Forno and Trattoria Uliveto. If Italian isn’t your jam, or you just want another option, check out The Homestead for a variety of delicious sandwiches – the perfect place for a lunchtime pit stop. Craving tacos or a truly authentic Mexican dining experience? The Maya Restaurant offers delicious food and traditional ambiance.