A Local’s Guide on Things to Do in Santa Ynez

Calcagno & Hamilton


Located in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, Santa Ynez Valley is a picturesque region bursting with character. Known for its world-famous wineries and its idyllic, neighborly community, Santa Ynez is a perfect place to move to, buy a vacation home in, or just visit. With a small population of just under 5,000, this quiet town is perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of California’s many big cities. If you plan on spending time in the area, here are a few things to do in Santa Ynez you won’t want to miss.


Santa Barbara County wine country is home to over 300 wineries, with about half of those located right in the Santa Ynez Valley. If you are a wine enthusiast, this is the perfect place to spend a day touring wineries, tasting different wines, and enjoying the beauty of these properties. Because of California’s temperate weather, these getaway spots are stunning year-round, regardless of the season. The region offers a variety of wonderful wines, and with such an abundance of wineries, you can spend countless weekends visiting new locations, enjoying what each one has to offer in search of your favorite bottle. 

Santa Ynez Mountains

If you’re interested in getting active and taking in the local natural beauty of the area, the Santa Ynez Mountains offer a wonderful escape into nature. The abundant trails in the area are perfect for a calm stroll, a more rigorous hike, or other activities such as mountain biking. The mountain range offers numerous hiking trails of varying degrees of intensity, many of which offer beautiful views of the coast, the Santa Ynez Valley, or the rest of the mountain range. You can also enjoy a day on Lake Cachuma, a local favorite for fishing, camping, and boating. 

Painted Cave State Historic Park is an exciting trip to the land’s past, and it can be a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the area’s history and learn about the Chumash people who once inhabited it while also taking in the natural beauty of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Local beaches

If there is one thing that California is known for, it is its beautiful coastline, and Santa Ynez is no exception. Just a short drive from the coast and El Capitan State Beach, you can easily split a day between the local mountain range and the nearby beach. El Capitan is the perfect place to enjoy a day in the sun and take part in all of the classic water activities. Enjoy a stroll while taking in the sunset, catch some waves, or spend a day of play in the sand. El Capitan is known for its stunning natural views; it is a local favorite to spend some relaxing time taking in the sights and sounds of the coast, and it is a hallmark of both California and Santa Ynez living. 

Enjoy local restaurants and businesses in town

Once you’ve taken in all of the natural sights in the area, you’ll want to explore what the town has to offer. Bursting at the seams with character and charm, Downtown Santa Ynez is known for its fine selection of restaurants and boutique shops, many of which have charming western-style buildings which make you feel as if you are in the wild west. It is a wonderful place to take a calm stroll through town and enjoy the unique atmosphere or find a cute cafe and people-watch. With such an abundance of local wineries, Santa Ynez has no shortage of options when it comes to exploring what each one has to offer. High-quality restaurants are everywhere in Santa Ynez, and many spots offer unique local wines that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. 

Once you’ve filled up on good food and drink, you’ll want to be sure to check out the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Carriage House. Immerse yourself in the local history and discover what life in Santa Ynez Valley was like through the years. The museum is even home to the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in the western United States, and in addition, offers a wonderful breadth of unique relics from the west’s first American settlers. The museum also frequently hosts events for locals and develops new exhibitions for visitors to enjoy. 

The Chumash Casino Resort can be a fun alternative to the typically quiet town — and if you’re not into gambling, the resort offers a variety of activities to enjoy. Home to high-quality restaurants and shops, it can be a wonderful place to catch a nice dinner followed up by a show or concert in its lively venue. 

Visit Solvang

California’s most unique town is located right in the Santa Ynez Valley; Solvang is a Danish-inspired town that takes its theme very seriously. You might not be able to tell it apart from its inspiration. For any California resident, a trip to Solvang is a novelty and a way to experience the charm of Europe with a short drive from home. Enjoy a stroll through the cobblestone roads, take in the Danish architecture, and indulge in some traditional Danish snacks, baked goods, and meals. Solvang is one of California’s most novel little towns, and it is a hallmark of the Golden State. You’ll want to make sure to come on an empty stomach, so you can try out all of the niche baked goods you won’t be able to find anywhere else. 

Want to learn more about Santa Ynez homes for sale?

If you want to explore the real estate market in Santa Ynez or you’re ready to look for the perfect home for you and your family, reach out to the real estate agents at Calcagno & Hamilton Real Estate Group to learn more and begin your search.


Our team, strives to take the guesswork out of selling or buying a property. The many important details involved in the process can seem daunting — our goal is to make it a seamless and enjoyable experience.

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