Day Trip: Santa Barbara Wine Country

Looking for a day trip from Los Angeles?  Heading up to Santa Barbara wine country is always a great option! It will be a full day but there is alot you can do.

Start the morning off with a drive up the coast. Take the 101 freeway to CA-246 exit toward Lompoc/Solvang which is approximately 130 miles north of LA.  After the drive, you may be ready for a hearty breakfast and there is one joint that is sure to please your appetite.

Ellen’s Danish Pancake House
272 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton, CA 93427

Located around the corner in Buellton, CA, Ellen’s Danish Pancake House is a family owned restaurant that is sure to curb your hunger. This full service American and Danish restaurant has a wide array of menu choices from their famous Danish pancakes, to savory steaks and seafood. Ellen’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. They also serve homemade jams, salad dressings, and offer daily specials.

After breakfast, head 15 minutes to Santa Ynez and start wine tasting.

125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

This boutique winery is great for tastings, weddings and events. The ambiance transports you to the French countryside where you can enjoy a glass of wine in their tranquil courtyard, filled with lavender, rosemary and olive trees.  Walk-ins are welcome and two tasting options are available, ranging from $12 to $16. For parties larger than 8, reservations are available. Tasting room is open daily from 11am-5pm.

After visiting Sunstone, head to the town of Los Olivos, where you can stroll down the streets, visiting tasting rooms, art galleries or get a bite to eat.  Two of our favorite tastings rooms are:

2948 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA; (805) 686-2626

This tasting room highlights art inspired wines. Here you can join in and paint on the community canvas, as well as leave your impression in an art journal. The Artiste Tasting Studio names each of their bottles after the title given to the paintings on them. Combining expressionism, wine tasting and color is how this tasting room seeks to give visitors a pleasing experience.

2933 San Marcos Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441; (805) 688-4069

Off the beaten trail, Kaena is a hidden gem and is also conveniently located next to a chocolate shop! Wines sold here are made with care and in smaller batches than most wineries. The ambiance is very relaxed, yet modern and sophisticated. A must try to first time visitors who like a glass of wine (or two).

Another winery worth noting is Hilliard Bruce Vineyards, located on the western border of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Owners John Hilliard and Christine Bruce, both certified master gardeners, planted the vineyards in 2004. The 101-acre estate is located on Highway 246 and consists of 21 acres of sustainably-farmed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Hilliard Bruce is not open to the public but you can try to make an appointment to taste the wines.


After a full day of wine tasting, a hearty dinner is recommended before the drive home. Of course, we recommend the famous Hitching Post II (406 East Highway 246, Buellton, CA 93427). Some say this is the world’s best BBQ, uniquely combining old and new favorites. The menu is unique and offers a variety from proteins to pastries, including: steak, smoked duck breast, ostrich, home-made soups, pastries, and some of California’s best French fries. The Hitching Post has been featured on a number of Food Lover’s lists and locals agree that this place lives up to its reputation. There is also a wide array of wines available for order or purchase.

After dinner, it’s time to head home. Drive safely!