Head for 10,000-acre Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, conveniently located in the middle of Santa Barbara wine country, for unplugged upscale vacations and relaxed wrangler-led rides. Couples and families have been doing just that, year-round, since 1946. Alisal has a string of some 100 trail horses for its guests -- horses suitable for beginners as well as experienced riders. Two-hour breakfast rides include a Western breakfast buffet, cowboy poetry and campfire under the sycamores at the ranch’s historic Adobe Camp. Twilight rides are best for sunset color and spotting wildlife. Daily trail rides set out every morning and afternoon, or sign up for riding lessons, available for kids as well as adults.
Every Wednesday evening during summer brings the low-key Alisal Ranch Rodeo, where wranglers demonstrate their skill at roping, team sorting and barrel racing. Pint-sized cowpokes can visit the “barnyard” daily to meet the farm animals, and be led around on horseback by their parents. Alisal provides absolute peace and simple luxury, with no phones or in-room TVs, but a swimming pool, private lake and two 18-hole golf courses. Daily rates for a two-night minimum stay in 2010 started at $495 per couple, breakfast and dinner included, with kids over 2 an extra $55 to $85 and complimentary cribs. Ride rates were $75 for two hours.
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
1054 Alisal Road
Solvang, CA 93463