Lompoc, California is located on the scenic California Highway 1, called the Pacific Coast Highway. It is situated in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, approximately 55 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. Lompoc is a bedroom community of Santa Barbara, and the home of many employees of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Weather & Geography of Lompoc
Weather in Lompoc is mild, with a cool Mediterranean climate similar to most of coastal California. The ocean breezes refresh the Lompoc valley, where sun is common and snow is almost unknown. Lompoc had a population of just over 42,000 at the 2010 census. The city is known as “The City of Arts and Flowers,” and is famous for its wines. The movie Sideways was filmed in Lompoc and east of the city in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Lompoc Valley is a prime bike riding area in California, with rides rated from easy and pleasant to difficult and challenging. It sits a mere 88 feet above sea level, and the Pacific Ocean lies only nine miles from downtown Lompoc.
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History of Lompoc, CA
The Lompoc Valley was first inhabited by the Chumash Indians, who lived in the area for nearly 10,000 years before the first European contact. La Purisma Mission was established in 1787, marking the first European settlement in the Valley. The original mission in what is now downtown Lompoc was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. The remnants of that destroyed mission are still visible at the site at the foot of F Street. It has been preserved as a State Historical Landmark. The mission was rebuilt in the north side of the Valley beginning in 1813. It is now the most authentically restored mission in the California mission system and has been designated a State park.
The City of Lompoc itself was incorporated in 1888. The coastal railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles was completed in 1901, and a spur went into Lompoc. This allowed for growth in the Lompoc Valley. At this time, fields were cleared and created for specialized crops including flowers and flower seeds. It became known as the flower seed capital of the word. In 1909, the schooner Sybil Marston sank near Lompoc’s Pacific coast. It was the largest steam schooner on the west coast of the time and was carrying over one million board feet of lumber. Many older homes in Lompoc are built with the lumber strewn from that shipwreck. In addition, the remains of the wreck can still be seen just south of Lompoc’s Surf Beach.
Lompoc Tourist Attractions
Wine production and tourism make up the expanding agricultural economy of the Lompoc area today. The Valley is called the gateway to the Santa Rita Hills AVA wine appellation, which is recognized internationally for premium chardonnay and pinot noir wines. At least 30 boutique premium wine labels are produced in Lompoc, many in wineries located in the “Lompoc Wine Ghetto.” Many other wineries are located along California State Route 246, which links Lompoc with the nearby town of Buellton. Others are located along Santa Rosa Road.
Wine tasting venues abound in the city and in 2010, Playboy magazine named Jasper’s, a local Lompoc bar, as one of the top 10 dive bars in the country. Lompoc hosts the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival each spring. Wine tasting rooms are located in the “Wine Ghetto” and other locations throughout Lompoc. Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto is a number of small wine production and tasting facilities located in the Sobhani Industrial Park. Once inside the steel buildings, visitors encounter over one dozen tasting rooms, offering many of the finest wines offered on the Central California Coast. Visitors should explore and enjoy these unique local wines often, because new tasting opportunities are added regularly.
During the last week of June, Lompoc hosts the Lompoc Valley Flower Festival. Other attractions in Lompoc include a state of the art indoor aquatic center with three pools under one roof, a restored 1875 Victorian home and property, and the largest grove of Italian Stone Pines outside the Mediterranean area. Take a drive through the Lompoc “Valley of Flowers” during the summer months to see the colors of the flowers grown both for seed and for cut flower productions. Vegetables including the famous Central Coast Pinquito Bean are also grown here.
Lompoc hosts events throughout the year, including the Lompoc Spring Arts Festival in April, Mission Life Days at La Purisma Mission in April and the annual Iris Show sponsored by the Lompoc Iris Association in May. Lompoc is also known as the “City of Murals in the Valley of Flowers.” The downtown area of the city boasts over 32 major murals commissioned from local artists, as well as 40 additional murals in the historic old town area.
The Lompoc Valley also hosts the Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, home to more than 200 wild horses and burros. Return to Freedom is a 300-acre wild horse reserve located in the beautiful Jalama Valley area of the Lompoc. The Return to Freedom organization is working to protect America’s remaining wild horse herds through sanctuary, education and conservation. Visitors are welcome at the sanctuary from May through October. They welcome volunteers and offer a family volunteer work weekend each year in August. Visitors will get to observe wild horses living in their natural herd groups and family bands. They can also meet “Spirit,” the Kiger Mustang stallion that was the inspiration for the DreamWorks animated movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
If you are planning to visit Lompoc, California in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, click this link to view photos and video tours of vacation rentals in the area, as well as read reviews of the properties and make a reservation: