For my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday we rented an awesome house and had a perfect, fun and sun-filled family weekend trip to Santa Ynez Valley. It was easy and successful because we had a team of producers (the Horowitz siblings) mostly running the show.
If you’re thinking of taking your own weekend trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, here’s a peak at our itinerary, complete with grocery shopping list! (Don’t get used to that though.)
Arrive at your (hopefully awesome) rental home
We highly recommend the house we stayed in — it has incredible views, a pool, spa, four bedrooms, and an adorable GIANT dog to frolic with…
Dinner: Tacos and/or burritos
This’ll easily feed six adults and a couple kids with leftovers to use on other meals…
- Ground beef 85/15% — 3 lbs
- Taco seasoning mix – 3 packs
- Tortillas — either taco or burrito size
- Beans — refried beans (2 or 3 cans)
- Rice-a-Roni Spanish Rice — One box
- Lettuce — head of iceberg
- Tomato — 4-5 ripe tomatoes (depending on size)
- Cheese — bag of shredded cheddar
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- avocado — 3-4 ripe avocados or pre-made guac
- Margarita mix
Take a gorgeous morning walk
No matter what time it is, the lighting is so freaking gorgeous in the Santa Ynez Valley. Morning was my favorite time to get out of the house and take a walk, and appreciate the early morning sun shining through all the trees. Then it’s time to come back and make…
Breakfast: Waffles and/or pancakes
- Pancake and waffle mix — pick your poison
- Eggs — a dozen
- Fruit — whatever floats your boat
- Bacon — one pack is plenty
- Orange juice
Hopefully you’ve rented a place with a pool (and jacuzzi for the folks who are always cold, like me).
Lunch: Full of Life Flatbread
One of our favorite restaurants — Full of Life Flatbread — is a 20 minute drive away, in Los Alamos. If you’re EVER within driving distance from Full of Life, GO THERE. Warning: It’s very busy at night, and service is very slow during the day. But it’s all worth it for their amazing pizzas.
Bob’s Well Bread Bakery
As you head back home from Full of Life, you should stop a few blocks down the road at one of the best bakeries in the world: Bob’s Well Bread! Grab one (of five) of their kouign amanns (don’t be surprised if they’re already sold out though — they’re popular). Then grab a bunch of different pastries for breakfast the next day!
Good thing you carbo loaded with all that pizza, because it’s time to go wine tasting! We were right down the street from a couple of wineries, so we hit up Bridlewood Winery (not our favorite, but the staff is lovely and fun).
Then we drove a little further down the road to Vincent Vineyards and Winery (where we enjoyed the wine more and was a little weirded out by the staff). Definitely take advantage of their cheese and charcuterie and, if you have any more time before dinner, play some corn hole and enjoy their brightly colored lawn chairs…
Buy a few bottles of your favorites from the day so you can use them when you get back for your special dinner…
Dinner: Hire a private chef (optional, obviously)
Okay okay, this is a Big Over-doing It step for us (and for a lot of people, I’m sure). But we wanted our big birthday gift for our mom to be an intimate family dinner where no one had to worry about cooking, cleaning, or setting the table. So I got in touch with the highly rated and the highly amazing Chef Mattias Blom and together we planned a menu, using all local ingredients, and he took it from there!
Breakfast: Kill the leftovers + pastries
- Scramble all the left over eggs from the day before
- Cut up and throw in all the leftover avocado
- Top with sour cream
- Use leftover bacon
- And break out those Bob’s Well Bread pastries!
Take a final walk
Maybe it’ll a cool foggy morning and you can watch the sun rise over the valley and think about what a kick-ass weekend you just had. And start making plans for your next weekend trip to Santa Ynez Valley!
Do you have travel tips for Santa Ynez? Leave them in the comments!