Black Velvet, Secretariat, The Triple Crown all romanticize the human relationship with horses and there is no better place to appreciate them than at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang, California.
Generations have been coming annually to step back in time and slow down a bit to enjoy family interaction. 73 cabin type suites have lavish creature comforts sans TVs and phones. Trade them in for an old fashioned round up of fun. A vacation at Alisal Guest Ranch is a winning trifecta combining horses, golf and wine.
Horses – Say Howdy to Cowboy Blake and the other ranch hands who tend to the 120+ horses on this 10,000-acre working cattle ranch. Choose from several trail rides or lessons and saddle up in the barnyard next to the pigs, chickens and goats. Beginner rides take a slow pace through the wind-swept hills of flowing grass, dotted with oak trees and postcard views. Intermediate groups can count on uphill trotting past the grazing cattle.
Advanced riders cover more territory since their speed includes galloping. Giddy up around the lake where eagles soar. 8-year-old Zoie joined us from Vermont on her 7th ride in 4 days with mom Laura. Zoie’s dad was watching the youngest and then out for a cycling venture.
Golf- Dave Hartley is the longtime golf director at the Ranch Course. He is a native, which means he knows everyone in the valley.
The Ranch course is narrow and more about shot making than bombing away. The River Course running parallel to the Santa Ynez River is more open and offers views of the surrounding mountains and the Danish town of Solvang. The River Grill and Proshop serves elevated panoramic vistas as well as great chow with indoor or patio seating. Brook Bell is the newer Golf Director for the River Course with lots of ideas. The new superintendent
Nick Smith has transformed both courses into championship caliber conditioning after the long extreme drought. A vineyard lines number 7 of the River Course where the cart chase scene was filmed in “Sideways.”
Wine – Yes, the movie Sideways popularized the area for wine tasting with scenes on the course and at the Hitching Post in Buellton, next to Solvang. This is the heart of Santa Barbara wine country where for 45 years the air has warmed 1 degree per mile inland from the coast for perfect vine growing conditions. Before Sideways there were 67 wineries. Then hopeful vintners came from all over bumping the number up to 132 but reality whittled them down to a viable 83 now.
Alisal is the native word for sycamore grove. These mighty old trees stand guard throughout the ranch. Halfway tween Hollywood and Hearst castle, just 30 minutes from the Santa Barbara airport, this is where stars and families alike retreat and count on their privacy. Clarke Gable was married in the library. Who knows who might have stayed in the cabin before you?
Musicians entertain in the Oak Room Bar next to the Ranch Room where families and friends dine on fabulous food. Nobody cries over spilled milk but everyone dresses up for dinner. It’s tradition. So is family playtime on the grassy oval, the croquet lawn or horseshoe pit. Play Marco Polo or relax at the pool and soak bums in the Jacuzzi after riding. Kinks can be worked out at the full service spa or stretched
at the fitness center. Cycle, hike or hit the tennis courts and golf courses. Shuttles transport to the lake for boating or fishing. Sign up for archery or air rifle, gather eggs or feed and groom the animals. Arts and crafts are another distraction to eliminate boredom from the ranch language. Enjoy yourselves intimately, without technology, how novel! Choose your own winning trifecta from the many activities at Alisal Guest Ranch.
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