SIP TRIP — So Much To Do From Here

Situated midway along California’s Central Coast, the Santa Maria Valley is located about four hours north of Los Angeles and four hours south of San Francisco’s Bay area. With 34 tasting rooms, 6 unique AVAs, and 13 beaches, all within easy reach, this is a perfect home base for your wine country escape.


8:00 am Start your morning with a short drive to Oso Flaco Lake Trail and walk—binoculars in hand—along the 1.7-mile boardwalk. Watch for birds, reptiles, mammals, and intriguing plants. When you reach the bridge over the lake, cross it for incredible views of the dunes and surrounding landscape. At the end of the boardwalk, there’s a viewing platform where you can see the entire San Luis Bay from Point San Luis in the north to Mussel Rock in the south. In the dunes closest to the beach, the western snowy plover nests from March until October. Be sure to observe and follow all signage as you enjoy the beach.  

12:00 pm Drive to Old Town Orcutt, a quaint town filled with character. Have an artisan woodfired pizza at Pizzeria Bello Forno. The pizzas feature locally sourced ingredients that change with the season.

1:30 pm Stroll through the Old Town Market, a family-owned corner grocery store with a great selection of local wines, local foods, antique furniture, collectibles, and primitives. For more antiques, Déjà Vu Antique Mall, housed in an old loading dock, is just a short walk away.

3:00 pm Time for tasting! Santa Maria Valley wouldn’t be complete without the wines of Clarissa Nagy, owner of cnagy Wines. Her cozy tasting room is warm and welcoming, with a blend of historic hospitality and modern accents. For more wine, visit CORE Winery, and for a nice selection of local craft beers in a super friendly spot, stop into Naughty Oak Brewing Company.

4:30 pm Check in to the charming Santa Maria Inn. This unique retreat is a registered historic landmark offering guest rooms in both the historic portion of the inn and its modern tower.

6:30 pm Feast on Santa Maria-style barbecue at the iconic Far Western Tavern. Owned by a longtime local ranching family, this establishment has this regional culinary technique—first popularized by nineteenth century rancheros—down pat.

8:00 pm Still in the mood toe xplore? Ca’ Del Grevino is a terrific after-dinner spot with live music on most weekends.


8:30 am Want to work off yesterday’s indulgences and make room for another delicious day? Greet the morning at Los Flores Ranch Park in the Solomon Hills just south of the city of Santa Maria. There are 14 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding to discover within this rolling 1,774-acre open space park. Guided docent tours and nature walks are also offered at certain times of the year, so check out all your options in advance.

11:30 am Woody’s Butcher Block is a great place to stop for picnic provisions. Choose one of the signature items such as the Santa Maria–style tri-tip sandwich or the Italian Stallion, loaded with delicious meats and hot peppers.

12:00 pm Head to Presqu’ile Winery where you can enjoy your lunch atop a hill with stunning views and an exceptional glass of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc. This small familyrun winery offers 90-minute tours with advance reservations.

2:15 pm Your next stop, Cottonwood Canyon Winery, is an inviting boutique winery on the northern edge of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Besides Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sample the Syrah and sparkling wine. 

3:00 pm In addition to a wonderful lineup of wines, Costa de Oro Winery has a delightful boutique of wine- and culinary-related items, so allow time to browse. On Saturdays, you can stay for a couple of sets by a regional band.

6:00 pm After a short siesta, go to the local favorite place for steaks: Shaw’s Famous Steakhouse & Tavern. Besides Santa Maria–style barbecue prepared over red oak coals, the menu features excellent beef, seafood, and todie- for garlic mashed potatoes.

8:00 pm Top off your visit at NITE Creamery for a couple of scoops of smooth, creamy (no ice crystals!) nitro-crafted ice cream. On your way back to the inn, you can start planning your next escape to the Santa Maria Valley.

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