Santa Ynez Valley: The Real Winter Wonderland
A renowned wine destination, the Santa Ynez Valley—including Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang— turns even more magical during the holidays. Just two hours from Los Angeles and a four-hour drive from San Francisco, the region’s small-town charms embody the holiday spirit.
MUST-SEE SPOTS – With its Danish roots, Solvang buzzes all season with Julefest (pronounced Yule-fest). The annual tree-lighting ceremony ushers in such festivities as a parade and children’s performance.
THAT HOLIDAY SPIRIT – The Lighting of the 7 5-foot redwood Christmas tree in Santa Ynez (Dec. 1) kicks off the season, followed by The Los Alamos Holiday Stroll to downtown shops (Dec. 2).
Los Olivos Olde Fashioned Christmas (Dec. 3) includes the Artisan Boutique in the Grange, Summerset Farm & Dale’s Train at Lavinia Park, a visit from Santa Claus, and the lighting of its Christmas Tree.
Buellton Winter Fest (Dec. 4) features a Holiday Village that piles 20 tons of snow for all to play in while enjoying local food trucks and a traditional Christmas Tree Lighting. Solvang’s two-day Julefest Wine & Beer Walk (Dec. 10 -11) brings in the yuletide with tastings of local products. The season ends with the Solvang Christmas Tree Burn (Jan. 6). Live entertainment accompanies the fiery spectacle and ignites the New Year.
WHERE TO STAY & DINE – From luxurious boutique inns, to chic modern hotels, or a resort set on a sprawling working cattle ranch, the Santa Ynez Valley has lodging options for every taste and budget. The Valley boasts a thriving foodie culture with true farm-to-table experiences. Some favorites include: The Hitching Post II Restaurant (Buellton), The Ballard Inn & Restaurant (Ballard), Sides Hardware and Shoes (Los Olivos), SY Kitchen (Santa Ynez), Bacon & Brine (Solvang), and Pico at the Los Alamos General Store (Los Alamos).