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Located about 35 minutes inland from Santa Barbara  is the picturesque town of Santa Ynez, a peaceful community with a downtown area that resembles an old Western town. The town itself is small, but it still has everything the Central Coast has to offer, from beautiful hiking trails to award-winning wineries and even a wine trail. Since it’s such a short drive from some beautiful beaches, it’s definitely worth spending a day or a weekend in this charming community.

Old Town Santa Ynez-17654305649Source: Harold Litwiler / Flickr

The Santa Ynez Valley has a unique history since it’s been home to a variety of cultures over the last few centuries. Each of them made an impact on its heritage, but presently it’s the false-front buildings, saloons and vintage looking businesses that give this town its charm. But for a cowboy town, this place is pretty sophisticated. Modern shops and galleries line the streets, which have horseshoe embedded crosswalks. There’s a great variety of restaurants as well that range from casual burgers, brunch spots, seafood, steak and Italian food.

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The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum is a great place to visit if you’re curious about the local history. The collections tell the story of the pioneering settlers and the five early townships that formed its foundation. They’re open Wednesday-Sunday from noon-4, and admission is just $5 (children are free).

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Get into the Western spirit with a beautiful horseback riding tour. Vino Vaqueros is a highly rated company offering 90 minute rides through some of the area’s most beautiful vineyards. The private rides are available seven days a week and cost $115 per person. Best of all, when you’re finished with your ride, you get to try two local wines of your choices.

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Speaking of wine, if you have the time and you’re a fan of vino, make it a point to hit the Santa Ynez Wine Trail. This is a beautiful scenic route that offers the chance to check out some of the most popular wineries in the region. Designate a driver so you can taste your way through this beautiful journey… and if you’re the driver, ask your passengers to pay you in wine bottles to enjoy later.

If you enjoy a nice hike, the Sedgwick Reserve is a world class conservation and research facility that’s sometimes has hikes that are open to the public. The Reserve encompasses nine square miles and is full of animal and plant life.

California Winery In Santa Ynez ValleyWine country near Santa Ynez

Santa Ynez has a couple lodging options, but you’ll find many more nearby hotels in Solvang.

Spend time time in the Santa Ynez Valley on your next California coast vacation. You just might fall in love with this scenic area.