Day Trips to Take from Santa Barbara, CA

With its Mediterranean climate, Mission-style architecture, and small-town feel, Santa Barbara is a can’t miss on any trip to California. But just outside the city lays a multitude of beautiful landscapes and traditional cultures. Here are the best day trips to take from Santa Barbara.

With three times as many grape varietals as Napa and a longer growing season due to its warmer weather, the Santa Ynez Valley might be the most underrated wine region in California. If a picturesque winery is what you seek, check out Rusack Vineyards. Located on a huge piece of property with a large sundeck, Rusack Vineyards is the perfect place to try Syrah or Pinot Noir, the most common types of wine found in the Valley. Also, be sure to visit the town of Los Olivos, home to more than 20 tasting rooms.

With more than 2,000 species of plants and animals, Channel Islands National Park is often called the Galapagos of North America due to the diversity of species it possesses. Only an hour ferry ride from Santa Barbara, the Park is home to animals like harbor seals, brown pelicans, and even the elusive blue whale. Popular activities while visiting include kayaking in the extensive sea caves and snorkeling among the kelp forests.

Located only a 40-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara, Solvang is an adorable town that looks like it was taken right out of Denmark. Founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants seeking a warm reprieve from harsh midwestern winters, Solvang still retains all of its Danish charm. Apart from enjoying the traditional Danish architecture, be sure not to miss some of the traditional foods, like aebleskivers (a type of pancake) and the smorgasbord- a buffet featuring all kinds of Nordic foods.

Once home to publications giant William Hearst, Hearst Castle became a California State Park upon Hearst’s death in 1951. While the drive from Santa Barbara is on the longer side, this spectacular California landmark shouldn’t be missed. Inspired by a hodgepodge of European architectural styles, and with zebras and other wild animals still roaming the grounds, Hearst Castle is sure to inspire awe in every kind of visitor.

Between the charm of the city itself, the surrounding nature, and a variety of interesting historical landmarks, your visit to Santa Barbara and the surrounding area is sure not to disappoint. If Santa Barbara is where you want your central location to be during your trip, consider booking a room at the Cheshire Cat Inn.

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