The Santa Ynez Valley’s open spaces and natural beauty offer a welcome escape


Whether powered by bicycle, boat, human, or horse, outdoor recreation provides a perfect complement to the valley’s wine country charm

The Santa Ynez Valley has never been an ordinary wine country destination, and its abundance of outdoor recreation and amenities is a key reason why. Set along California’s Central Coast, with the San Rafael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south, rests a natural playground for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, outdoor adventurists, and more.

Entering the valley and catching the first glimpse of Cachuma Lake sparkling under the summer sun or of the region’s rolling hills, dotted with California live oaks and painted with acres of lush vineyards, offers a much-needed breath of fresh air. A quick excursion to the 80-foot waterfall at Nojoqui Falls Park or the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from Gaviota Peak or Figueroa Mountain provides a breathtaking shot of energy. 

“Increasingly, the popularity of the valley’s natural outdoor assets has bolstered the region’s reputation as a world-class wine and culinary destination,” said Shelby Sim, President & CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “Visitors want to explore the outdoors, appreciate a destination from a new or different perspective, or experience something that they might not be able to at home, and the Santa Ynez Valley provides many opportunities to do just that.”

A stroll along the shores of Cachuma Lake, watching the native bald eagles, ospreys, and hawks soar above, has never been so appreciated. The lake is popular for fishing, boating, and its ample hiking and mountain bike paths.

The Santa Ynez Valley offers hundreds of miles of trails to explore, from scenic vineyard-to-vineyard strolls, to more challenging hikes rewarded with fields of wildflowers or incredible sea-to-valley vistas. Explore the region’s vineyards via horseback with Vino Vaqueros or KAP Land & Cattle for a uniquely enriching and rewarding experience.
The rural country roads that connect the wineries and communities of the Santa Ynez Valley are also ideal for a two-wheel adventure. Whether you’re interested in doing an easy 5 miles with the family, 50 miles through rolling vineyards, or a multi-day tour of wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley and its less-trafficked roads make for a cyclist’s nirvana. Everything you need can be found at Dr. J’s Bicycle Shop, Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours, or Wheel Fun Rentals.

Be at peace by taking a yoga class set in the vineyards with Vineyard Yoga SYV. And with more than 100 wineries, many with expansive grounds, outside seating, and room to roam, some even consider wine-tasting to be an outdoor activity in the Santa Ynez Valley.

“The Santa Ynez Valley has always had a healthy, outdoor lifestyle, and that seems particularly fitting right now at a time when getting outside and into open space has never felt more important for our physical and mental wellbeing,” Sim said. “There’s something calming, refreshing, and reinvigorating about seeing the Pacific Ocean from the top of Gaviota Peak, hiking a trail that passes by an endless field of California wildflowers, or just walking through a rolling vineyard, and this is the perfect place to do all of the above and more.”

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