Get away to wine country without the wine country price tags.
In the Santa Maria Valley, you can get away to a wine country that the Travel Channel listed as a Top 10 City for Wine Snobs with award-winning Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but you won’t find any snobbery here. You can pair your Pinot with a pair of jeans at tasting rooms located right in the heart of sprawling vineyards without breaking the bank. The Santa Maria Valley is a largely unknown destination that lets you experience exquisite wine, traditional dining, and comfortable accommodations for $500 or less.
Where to stay
Start by booking your hotel at one of many lodging properties in the Santa Maria Valley. On average, hotel rooms run approximately $100 per night. However, some weekends rooms are more expensive. Be sure to check the cost when you book to make sure your recreation dollars extend further! You can browse the full list of hotel properties in the region here.
What to do
After you check in, you can show your hotel key card at one of many tasting rooms in the Santa Maria Valley, including Cambria, Cottonwood Canyon, Foxen or Riverbench, to receive a free wine tasting. If beer is more your style, you can also use this promotion at Naughty Oak Brewing Co. And yes, it’s okay to ask for two room keys when you check in!
The Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley runs its loop and visits a handful of the Santa Maria Valley’s most popular wineries from May to October. The trolley is the best way to experience Santa Maria Valley wine. Learn more about the trolley route and where to buy tickets here.
The Santa Maria Valley’s warm climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors all year round. Trek on one of the 24 hiking trails within a 30-minute drive of the valley. Some of our favorites include Oso Flaco Lake or Los Flores Ranch Park. You can get four park entrances to Los Flores Ranch Park as part of the Show Your Key Card Promotion! Explore all 24 hiking trails in this roundup article. If you’re visiting the valley from October through February, don’t skip a trip to the Monarch Dunes Butterfly Grove. Thousands of monarch butterflies flock to eucalyptus groves like this one in the winter.
If you’re driving to the valley, we encourage you to bring your bike. There are hundreds of miles of cycling trails in and around theregion. We would recommend cycling the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, or the Santa Maria River Levee. For more trail recommendations and insider tips and tricks, check out this guide to all the cycling hot spots, according to local experts.
No trip to the Central Coast is complete without first digging your toes into the sand at one of 15 beaches near the valley. One of our favorite beaches is the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve inside the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, which offers plenty of opportunity to see local plants and wildlife. If you’re visiting March through September, you may even spot a rare Western Snowy Plover.
For more inspiration on what to do during your Santa Maria Valley getaway, check out our sample itineraries, which make planning your trip a breeze.
What to eat
You can find almost any type of dining experience in the Santa Maria Valley. While you’re here, splurge a little and get a taste of true Santa Maria Style dining. Santa Maria Style is our traditional barbecue style, which dates back more than 100 years. It consists of meat (usually tri-tip or sirloin) grilled over native red oak coals and served with pinquito beans, a green salad and garlic bread.
You can get a variation of Santa Maria Style barbecue at many restaurants in the region, but the Far Western Tavern, The Swiss, the Hitching Post and Jocko’s are all classic staples for Santa Maria Style barbecue. Browse the full list of dining options throughout the valley here.
In the Santa Maria Valley, you’ll be welcomed like friends and fed like family. You don’t have to swirl your glass “just so” to fit in. Come experience sophisticated down-home hospitality, traditional Santa Maria Style barbecue, and renowned, but largely unknown, wine for yourself. Plan your next weekend getaway here, and be sure to #SantaMariaStyle on your vacation pictures!
Hotel rates vary throughout the year. Management reserves all rights. Subject to availability. Holiday and blackout dates apply. Contact individual hotels for details.