- In Solvang we celebrate Julefest annually throughout December to celebrate the Christmas season. Solvang decorates its half-timbered houses and windmills with lights, and the streets are filled with festivities including music, dance, food, parades and more. What could be better for getting into the Christmas spirit?
- In Los Olivos, we have Olde Fashioned Christmas where you can join residents and travelers alike in the streets to enjoy pleasant luminaries, popcorn and roasted walnuts, and local merchants to celebrate the holiday season. Not to mention musical performances and a tree lighting ceremony!
- Buellton has its annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony complete with singing, a visit from Santa Claus and cookies galore. This is made even more special when carolers sing through the neighborhoods of Buellton.
- In Santa Maria, the PCPA Theaterfest will perform the unforgettable holiday masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, a songful adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale. It reawakens the true spirit of Christmas at the Marian Theatre in Santa Maria.
- In Santa Barbara, you can find The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of Winter Solstice this year. This is a Bavarian celebration of winter solstice set in the early 19th century Bavaria at Yuletide! It’s filled with song, dance and stories originating in Nordic and German traditions. The cast features 70 actors, singers, dancers and instrumentalists and will perform at Lobero Theatre.
HOLIDAY HOSTING AT MATTEI’S TAVERN
We’ve created a guide with tips & tricks on hosting a holiday gathering this winter season! With a group of extremely talented women, we set the mood for a chic wonderland inspired dinner in the Cottages at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, CA.
Once a stagecoach stop pioneered by the Swiss-American Felix Mattei during the late 19th century, and a social center frequented by the likes of Bing Crosby and Clark Gable, Mattei’s Tavern is now one of the most familiar historic sites in the Santa Ynez Valley. Its romantic heritage is revealed through the gabled buildings and pastoral surroundings, and its old-world charm is palpable. The property has served as a gathering place, bringing together loved ones and strangers alike, ever since. For over 125 years, The Cottages have provided sanctuary for those seeking the tranquility and adventure of California’s Central Coast.
Jaime Kostechko with Wild Heart Events explains the design inspiration behind the gathering: “Inspired by the history of Mattei’s Tavern [managed by Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals], built in 1886 and an iconic part of Los Olivos, we aimed to create an occasion that embodied the warm, charming feel of the location and it’s reputation for being a gathering point for both locals and travelers alike. We brought in vintage glassware and candlesticks as well as hand crocheted doilies as an ode to former times. The feel of the newly redesigned bungalows is so warm and cosy yet clean and bright.”
Denisse Salinas [Le Petit Chef], cooked some incredible farm-to-table style dishes for the night & was kind enough to share a couple of her recipes.
Roasted Parsnip Soup
[serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer]
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound yellow or white carrots
4 cups broth
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Meyer lemon oil, for garnish (optional)
Store bought or home made beet chips, for garnish (optional)
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish (optional)
Oat Milk Horchata White Russian by Le Petit Chef
[makes 2 cocktails]
for the oat milk horchata:
1 cup unsweetened oat milk
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons sugar
For the cocktail:
3 ounces ounces vodka, divided
3 ounces ounces Kahlua or coffee liqueur, divided
6 ounces oat milk horchata, divided
Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, for garnish
Add oat milk, cinnamon stick and sugar to a pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer (do not boil). Simmer until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat let cool to room temperature, leaving cinnamon stick to infuse for at least 20 minutes. Fill two glasses with ice. Divide vodka and Kahlua evenly amongst glasses, then top each glass with 3 ounces oat milk horchata. Garnish with ground cinnamon and top with cinnamon stick.
“We always recommend using the china and linen and glassware that has been waiting for such an occasion to make it’s appearance. If you don’t have time to steam press your napkins, simply tie them in a loose knot to give your place setting some added texture without the extra work.”
Gretchen Ulrich with Otis & Pearl Partywares gives us a stylish tip on glassware.
“Gone are the days when everything needs to be the same set or style! Liven
up your table with different patterns of glassware which will help guests keep tabs on their glass as they mingle.”
We all know that hosting an event can be STRESSFUL!
Check out these tricks from the professionals to help ease your mind while preparing for your big day.
“The more you can do in advance, the better! Shop for groceries early and on off-peak hours if possible to avoid crowds- the first hour open and last hour before closing are typically the least busy at the grocery stores. Give yourself a major head start in the kitchen: wash and chop your vegetables a day or two before (think onions, carrots, garlic, etc.) to save yourself tons of time the day of. Things like pie, tart and cookie doughs, soups and salad dressings can also be made days ahead of time.” Denisse Salina [Le Petit Chef]
“Plan ahead and make it a group effort! Involve the whole family…. children love setting the table or foraging for greenery, let the young adults hone their chopping skills, assign someone to making a playlist, place cards, and don’t forget the bartender!” Jamie Kostechko [Wild Heart Events]
“Make enough time to get yourself ready before your event so you aren’t stressed when guests arrive. Create a playlist the day before. And don’t forget to keep a journal with shopping lists, recipes, decor ideas and guest names so you can not only have it written down for this event, but as a reference for your next gathering as well!” Taylor Lockhart [Mattei’s Tavern – Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals]
Thank you for letting us share our holiday hosting gathering with you! We hope that you leave feeling inspired and ready to tackle your next winter event. If you are interested in renting the Cottages at Mattei’s Tavern, click HERE. For more information regarding events on the property, click HERE.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Lindsey Drewes//Lindsey Drewes Photography [@Lindseydrewes]
CHEF: Denisse Salinas//Le Petit Chef [@Lepetitchefsb]
FLORAL: Breanna Goettler//Wild Poppy Floral Design [@Wildpoppyfloraldesign]
TABLE RENTAL: Fisher Family Rentals [@Fisherfamilyrentals]
*For questions or inquiries regarding featuring our photos & tips, please contact Taylor Lockhart: Taylor@santaynezvacationrentals.com
If you’re planning on spending Valentine’s Day or simply a romantic weekend getaway in the Santa Ynez Valley this year, you have come to the right place. We put together an idyllic list of the nine most romantic things to do in the Santa Ynez Valley with your loved ones while you’re here! Santa Ynez is laden with the most homely, romantic, private vacation rental homes in the county.
The Santa Ynez Valley boasts picturesque landscapes, world renowned wineries, equine ranches, lavender farms, exquisite dining options and so much more for your romantic weekend getaway this February.
Have a romantic night at the Winemaker Dinner.
Lucas & Lewellen will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special Valentine’s Day Winemaker Dinner at the lovely Santa Ynez Coach house, behind the Santa Ynez Inn. The founders, Royce Lewellen and Louis Lucas, will be sharing the background story of their featured wines and delectable culinary pairings. Enjoy grilled shrimp, beets salad, duck confit, lamb rack and a strawberry shortcake paired with specialty Brut Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Port and more! For reservations, call the Santa Ynez Inn at (805) 688-5588.
Take a glider ride from the Santa Ynez Airport.
Santa Barbara Soaring has been flying above the Santa Barbara County for over 50 years with multiple glider tours to choose from. They say, “Climb the Coastal Mountain range up to 3,600 feet above sea level and soar with the birds! You’ll see the Reagan Ranch, the Pacific Ocean, part of the Channel Islands, along with the entire Santa Ynez Valley.” Flights are approximately 15 to 20 minutes long. Santa Barbara Soaring is located at the Santa Ynez Airport next door to Gainey Winery.
Enjoy a wine tasting series on an electric bike.
Pedego Electric Bikes of Los Olivos combines cycling a relaxed countryside setting and the quaint town of Los Olivos with great wine, food and an experienced guide to create the perfect Valley tour. The rides are custom-tailored to your needs and they offer several tours starting at 7am, for the early birds. Enjoy breakfast, vineyard views, a gourmet lunch and the serenity of both Foxen and Ballard Canyons.
Go horseback riding through the Valley.
Vino Vaqueros offers daily horseback riding and wine tasting tours through the gorgeous Santa Ynez Valley. The scenery is breathtaking, and what more romantic way to travel from vineyard to vineyard than on horseback? They say, “Enjoy unsurpassed views on this ranch and vineyard ride. The rolling hills set the stage for an unforgettable adventure.” Their “Ride & Wine” package includes a private tour through our very own Estelle Ranch & Vineyards on horseback. Following the ride, head over to the barn and enjoy a glass of local wine from Estelle Vineyards. Ask about their weekday Valentine’s special for a great discount!
Get a private couples massage.
What could be more romantic than a relaxing, soothing couples massage together? Santa Ynez Wine Country Massage has been a Santa Ynez Valley favorite for years. Enjoy a couples massage in one of their private rooms or even pamper yourself with one of our specialized massage therapists in the privacy of your vacation rental home. Indulge in a massage with your loved one and enjoy some peaceful, relaxing, quiet time to unwind with one another.
Enjoy a charming dinner at Mad & Vin.
At Mad & Vin Restaurant inside The Landsby in Solvang, you’ll be welcomed in by a warm traditional and craft cocktail, beer and wine bar. Mad & Vin, “which translates to food & wine in Danish, specializes in delicious wine-country inspired cuisine made with fresh, seasonal ingredients from California’s central coast.” They are offering select breakfast, dinner and drink specials on February 14th. To make a Valentine’s Day reservation, call (805) 688-3121.
Stroll downtown Los Olivos together.
Walking from door to door in the quaint downtown Los Olivos will take you to numerous boutique wineries and tasting rooms to sip on the best wine that the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer. After you have experienced the many wine and food pairings throughout Los Olivos, don’t forget to stop in the cute local shops to support small businesses. A few of our favorite local shops that we love to support include the Los Olivos General Store, Wildflower Women Boutique, Avec Moi Decor and Stafford’s Chocolates.
Book a private chef at your vacation rental.
Want to cozy up over dinner and wine with your loved ones? How about bundling up in your romantic vacation rental property and dining in for a private candle lit dinner experience. Hire a private chef to curate a fanciful setting and cook a special dinner to remember. Our chefs utilize fresh locally sourced ingredients and ensure a romantic evening with spices and flavors to remember. Santa Barbara Private Chef, Mattias Blom is offering a delicious “Valentine Warm-Up Menu” for your special day.
Take a hike and picnic at Nojoqui Falls.
Grab a delicious picnic style lunch from The Lucky Hen Larder in Santa Ynez and take a short drive to Nojoqui Falls Park to picnic on a grassy knoll or hike up a short trail to gaze at the falls in a gorgeous outdoor setting. The park has plenty of space to enjoy a romantic picnic while taking in the pristine and quiet surroundings. We recommend bringing some cheese and crackers with a blanket and a bottle of wine (or two) to enjoy an afternoon in nature.
Book your romantic getaway!
If you’re hoping to get away on Valentine’s Day or simply for a romantic escape from reality any time of year, we highly recommend the Santa Ynez Valley. Book a private vacation rental home and let us help you plan your special weekend. Contact our booking specialist for help finding the perfect vacation rental and planning an idealistic getaway.
It’s no secret that Solvang is one of the most Christmassy towns in America. Just ask TIME Magazine! And trust us, the Christmas spirit carries over into all corners of the Santa Ynez Valley! We have a full calendar of events happening in the Santa Ynez Valley that lists everything the area has to offer, but here are some of the highlights this holiday season.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year to spend in many of the towns in the Santa Ynez Valley, and there is no shortage of ways to ring in the holiday season. Then you can cozy up in front of the fire and spending a luxurious, comfortable Christmas at one of our Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals properties.