Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Valley, Calif.—The Santa Ynez Valley seems almost magical when its pastoral hills are an emerald green, wildflowers are in bloom, a nearly full Cachuma Lake sparkles in the sun, and water flows freely over Nojoqui Falls. When the occasional rain mixes with this region’s typically sun-drenched days, the outcome is an awe-inspiring exclamation point for the wine country of California’s Central Coast.

The news coming from California has not always been pleasant in recent years, with wildfires, mudslides, and a severe drought perpetually in the headlines. But as a visitor enters the Santa Ynez Valley over the San Marcos Pass and they get that first breathtaking glimpse of Cachuma Lake — now about 80 percent full after years of drought conditions — a different story unfolds. And it’s a story that is as much a coming out as it is a comeback.

“There’s no question that the Santa Ynez Valley is as beautiful right now as it has been in years, and will continue to shine throughout summer and into the fall,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The last few years have been devastating for some, with challenges for all of us in California. To see it rebound so strongly is truly a wonderful sight to behold.”

Just 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, an easy two-hour drive north from Los Angeles, and barely four hours from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley always has much to offer. But when this fertile region, which is home to more than 100 wineries and a thriving and imaginative farm-to-table culinary scene, is in full bloom it becomes impossible to resist.

The spring rains that came this year nourished the valley’s vineyards, of course, and will pay dividends with this year’s vintage. But the spring rains did so much more.

With the San Rafael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south, the Santa Ynez Valley offers hundreds of miles of trails to explore. Vineyard-to-vineyard hikes and scenic strolls, or more challenging excursions with incredible sea-to-valley vistas, are made more colorful with the blooming of wildflowers and the lushness of the surrounding hills. 

The 80-foot waterfall at Nojoqui Falls Park is made even more spectacular. A stroll along the shores of Cachuma Lake is always an adventure. But the native bald eagles, ospreys, and hawks are just a bit more lively, and the endless water recreation the reservoir offers is even more abundant. And the country roads that have made the Santa Ynez Valley a cycling hotspot are that much more inviting.

Most of all, the Santa Ynez Valley simply feels fresh and reborn, an ideal place to explore this spring or summer.

“Late spring and early summer is always an exciting time in the Santa Ynez Valley,” Sim said. “But this year feels a bit more special. This region is strong and bountiful, and we want to share it with visitors.”

Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create custom travel itineraries.

About the Santa Ynez Valley:

Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley feels worlds apart from both. With six distinct communities encompassing everything from classic California wine country to Northern European traditions to the very best of the Old West, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to endless possibilities. Here in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang visitors will find more than 100 wineries, incredible food, special events and a unique, rich heritage. For more information, including a complete listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go to