Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley is a popular, scenic river valley located near the southern part of the region known as the central California coast. The valley, which extends about 12 miles in an east to west direction, is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County.
The valley is bordered on the south by the Santa Ynez Mountains and by the San Rafael Mountains to the north. The Santa Ynez River, which originates in the San Rafael Mountains, flows east toward the Pacific Ocean. There are smaller hills bordering the valley to the west and northwest. The Pacific Ocean is about 15 miles to the south and 30 miles to the west.
There are five communities in the Santa Ynez Valley. The communities in order of population are: Solvang, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Los Olivos, and Ballard. Both Los Olivos and Ballard are unincorporated communities with populations of about 1,000 residents. The total population of the Santa Ynez Valley is about 20,000 residents. However, the valley is growing and is a popular tourist destination, particularly the cities of Solvang and Los Olivos, and there can be thousands of visitors for events or on the weekends. Please see our Santa Ynez Valley map.
Economy and Businesses
The Santa Ynez Valley's economy is driven by agriculture, the equine industry, and tourism. The valley also has a significant amount of shops, restaurants, and service businesses.
The valley is known for its excellent wine, partly made famous by the 2004 film Sideways. Sideways filmed in several locations in the valley including Solvang and Los Olivos. Some fans of the movie retrace the characters steps in the valley. There are more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms in the valley.
The valley is well known for horse ranches. There are hundreds of miles of horseback riding trails in the valley and surrounding mountains. Horse back riding is a great way to get out and explore nature and enjoy the beauty of the area. Perhaps the most famous ranch in the area is just south of the valley atop the Santa Ynez Mountains. That is where President Ronald Reagan famously had his "Rancho del Cielo", Spanish for Heaven's or Sky Ranch.
The Rancho del Cielo served as a vacation home for President Reagan for a number of years, including the term of his presidency. Young America Foundation now owns the ranch. This conservative group allows students and supporters of the former president the opportunity to visit the 688–acre property.
There are a variety of attractions in the Santa Ynez Valley for tourists and local residents. They include wine tasting, art galleries, antique stores, golf, the Chumash Casino, horse back riding, Lake Cachuma, hiking in the Los Padres National Forest, and bicycling. There are also annual events such as Pacific Conservatory of Performance Arts' Theatrefest, Danish Days in Solvang, and the Tour de California bicycle race passes through the valley. The valley is also known for its sunny skies and warm year round temperatures.