A guide to the Santa Ynez Valley’s most beautiful towns.
Composed of the areas known as Santa Ynez, Solvang, Los Olivos, Ballard, and Buellton, the Santa Ynez Valley is a stunning jewel located just north of Santa Barbara. The valley’s beautiful countryside features majestic rolling hills, crystal blue lakes, and vibrant vineyards.
The Santa Ynez Valley is known as wine country—there are approximately 120 wineries located in the valley’s picturesque towns. You can expect to pay close to $1 million for a home in the valley if not well into the millions. Valley homes are sprawling and renovated, and many date back to the 1920s; Solvang, in particular, features stunningly remodeled historic homes. Gorgeous vineyard estates can be found throughout the valley, particularly in Los Olivos.
With all of its scenery and charm, it’s no wonder that the Santa Ynez Valley is a popular tourist destination. People flock to the fantastic restaurants in Buellton, the stunning wineries of Los Olivos, and, of course, the European-inspired aesthetic of Solvang. Santa Ynez Valley residents love the sheer volume of fun activities and delicious restaurants to try—life in the valley is never dull!
Families tend to love the picture-perfect small town of Ballard, which boasts a tiny population of roughly 467 and is home to an actual Little Red Schoolhouse that still educates local children. Los Olivos is perfect for homebuyers who want to feel like they’re truly living in the west; the laid-back atmosphere and fun annual events bring the community together in this picturesque country town.
The Santa Ynez Valley is home to some of California’s best shopping, dining, and, of course, wineries. Explore the Danish-style architecture of Solvang by browsing a variety of boutiques selling everything from antiques to accessories, or dine on rustic Italian cuisine at Toscana Pizzeria. Nearby Ballard is home to the Ballard Inn & Restaurant, a AAA 4-Diamond rated country inn that’s regarded as one of the most romantic in the country.
Visit the Los Olivos Jazz & Olive Festival each June to try some fabulous wines and listen to talented musicians and bands or celebrate the holidays at Olde Fashioned Christmas. For all the freshest produce and goods, the Solvang Farmers’ Market offers everything you’ll need.
The Santa Ynez Valley is known for its excellent educational opportunities. Children in the valley attend schools in a variety of districts, including: