Temperatures during the beautiful summer months in Santa Ynez are inclined to creep steadily towards the triple digits. Many find this an opportunity to throw on a summer dress and take advantage of the dozens of fine wineries in the area; slowly sipping their way up the Foxen Wine Trail or down Grand Avenue in Los Olivos. Others, when the temperatures hit supreme, find the heat oppressive and rather uncomfortable. Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite “cool” summer hang outs, some of them only the locals know about.
After traveling 14 miles off of Hwy 1 down rural, winding Jalama Road you may be surprised to arrive at this incredible secluded place with outstanding views, miles of beach and prehistoric bluffs to enjoy. Once a Chumash settlement called “Halama” (this is still how you pronounce the name), the land was donated in 1943 to the County of Santa Barbara. Since then it has provided respite to those looking to enjoy California beaches without the chaotic crowds. Grab a burger and fries at the general store (my favorite burger on the Central Coast) then take a long walk south to the point and watch the surfers; bring a blanket or a jacket as it tends to get quite windy in the late afternoon.
Santa Ynez River
It’s best to consider the Santa Ynez River as a large creek in a vast, dry riverbed with pools gathering every mile or so. Red Rock, about a 1/3-mile hike at the end of Paradise Road, is one of the largest and most popular swimming holes along the Santa Ynez River. Further up the river bed are a few smaller, quieter swimming holes ideal for picnics and long afternoons dithering between lounging in the sun and dipping in the cool waters.
More accessible are the small swimming holes dotted along the western part of the river, running directly through the Santa Ynez Valley. After the first few rains, when the weather is still warm, these waters are cool, clean, and much closer to town. Some easy access points are near the bridges at Refugio Road and Alisal Road, and some good swimming holes are found when walking the river bed between the two bridges. Please be aware of your surroundings when in the wilderness, especially water sources, and never venture out alone. We live closely with wildlife here.
Grassini Family Vineyards
The Grassini Family Vineyards are some of the most splendid grounds in the entire Santa Ynez Valley. A grand old oak provides shade for the picnic tables sitting on the banks of a small lake. The lake is actually a reservoir so it’s incredibly clean, and also filled with bass for catch & release. This special place truly feels like a lush oasis during the dry, golden months of summer. The caveat here: the grounds are private. However, you can rent the site for a fee, so if you’ve come to Santa Ynez with a large group to celebrate something special, I’d suggest checking out Grassini Family Vineyards. Plus, they make some real fine wines.
Figueroa Mountain Tap Room
Throughout the world, indulging in a frosty pint of beer is the preferred way to cool off; consider it no different here. Figueroa Mountain Brewery’s tap room tucked away on Alamo Pintado Avenue in Los Olivos offers a reprieve from the sweltering sun. Chill with the locals over a mug of Hoppy Poppy or Paradise Road Pilsner in this funky, vibrant, air conditioned tap room.
The easiest and simplest way to cool off in Santa Ynez? Rent one of our many homes with a backyard pool and spa. There’s nothing quite like mixing your own margaritas with family and friends, then walking the 10 yards from kitchen to poolside.