At The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort the entire family can experience summer camp.
- Written byJennie Nunn
S’mores? Check. Wood-burning fireplaces? Check. Horseback riding? Check. Fishing? Check. If this sounds like the ideal Southern California getaway, grab the cowboy hat and boots and look no further than The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang near Santa Barbara. For nearly 70 years the rustic, private 10,000-acre dude ranch has been a veritable playground for outdoor adventure and family reunions.
The oak and sycamore tree-lined property is replete with 73 individual cottages and guestrooms (there are no TVs or phones in the room), fashioned with historic black-and-white photos, Western-inspired artwork, tartan plaid throw pillows and private patios with Adirondack-style chairs. The resort offers guests a chance to relive the days of sleepaway camp and channel their inner cowboy with a long checklist of options: a working ranch with 100 quarter horses; an eponymous 100-acre spring-fed lake; a tennis center; air rifles and archery; two 18-hole championship golf courses; an outdoor swimming pool; a fitness center and spa; a historic adobe camp; and an extensive kid’s program.
For some fresh air off-property, gear up for a guided cycling tour—led by longtime Alisal employee and avid cyclist Eric Larsen—along select routes (including a portion of the course of the infamous Amgen Tour of California cycling race) that wind through vineyards and apple farms. Other activities span guided nature walks, movies under the stars, an introduction to horsemanship skills class for first-time riders or those looking to hone skills, and a seasonal lake barbecue with a hay wagon ride and live music. True grill masters can perfect culinary skills and learn how to build a fire at a twice-yearly BBQ Bootcamp (next camp is October 19–21).
For daily dinner and to swap stories about the day’s lineup, head to the modern-day “mess hall” with a large stone fireplace, red-and-white checkered tablecloths and menu items using locally-sourced ingredients—from fresh arugula and radicchio salad to chicken fried steak with garlic-whipped potatoes and asparagus. It’s as close to real life on the ranch as you can imagine.
From $475 per night (breakfast and dinner included).
1054 S. Alisal Road in Solvang, alisal.com
Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne are not just friends, but are also two of L.A.’s most lauded restaurateurs who’ve recently opened Brentwood’s Tavern as a further testament to their own blend of talents. (They also own Lucques and AOC.)