As a lifelong learner, you know there’s always something new to discover.
You travel to learn and uncover the history of an area along the way. The experience of being on the road and the knowledge gained from your travels creates lasting memories and context for each new place you visit. Santa Maria Valley has fostered a rich heritage of culture, history, food, togetherness and hospitality. Come stay with us and engage in the backstories of the things and people that have helped to make this valley what it is today. Don’t forget to bring a pair of sneakers to change in to. You never know when inspiration will take you on a walk through the natural landscapes of the valley.
Your Trip at a Glance
Guadalupe, California is a small city off Highway 1 in Santa Maria Valley with multiple locations to stop and engage in the culture and history of the area. But first, get some fresh air with an easy 1.7 mile hike at Oso Flaco Lake, where you can view native plants, birds and other native wildlife.
The hike is brief and takes you across a boardwalk, providing an easy way to enjoy the scenery. Then, stop by the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. This small museum showcases pieces of history from the dunes, including artifacts from the 1923 movie, “The Ten Commandments,” which was filmed at the dunes. It is said that after the filming, the set was too expensive to move and too valuable for others to poach. So, director Cecil B. DeMille had 21 sphinxes pushed into a trench and buried them. And there they lay, forgotten, for the next 60 years. An entire sphinx head was excavated from the dunes and is now on display at the Dunes Center, along with other pieces from the film. Next door to the Dunes Center is The Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center. Their mission is to provide educational cultural awareness of diverse community groups and ethnic ties through art.
Next, you can quickly check out the original location of the original Far Western Tavern in the historic Palace Hotel building. There’s a great new (but temporary) mural painted on the side of the building that captures the soul of Guadalupe where you can pose for a picture. The Dunes Center has plans to move in to this space in the near future once renovations have been completed.
Finally, if you have time and the interest to stop, Guadalupe is also home to the oldest Buddhist temple in California at 1072 Olvera Street.
Head back toward town to explore Old Town Orcutt, which was founded as a boom town during an era of high oil production in the early 1900s. Today, Orcutt has antique charm and is home to many local shops, restaurants and tasting rooms. Make reservations for a traditional Santa Maria Style barbecue dinner at, Far Western Tavern. Santa Maria Style barbecue is a 150-year-old tradition in which tri-tip is seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic salt and grilled over red oak.
Start your day at Jack’s in Santa Maria Valley’s old town Orcutt for brunch. This restaurant has been an Orcutt landmark for over 50 years. The current menu features old favorites and new flavors including Santa Maria Style barbecue. They serve delicious homestyle breakfast all day and their pies are homemade daily.
After your meal, take a quick walk down E Clark Ave to Old Town Market to pick up some picnic snacks before you head out. They have a made to order deli, specialty cheeses and locally grown produce.
Take the scenic drive into the heart of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and stop for a wine tasting at Rancho Sisquoc Winery, located on a piece of land from an 1852 Mexican land grant that began as a cattle ranch in 1952. Today, Rancho Sisquoc specializes in producing small-batch red and white wines. Rancho Sisquoc’s tasting room is located in an antique barn, perfect for anyone looking for an authentic, traditional ranch experience. You can unpack your lunch outside on their picnic tables and enjoy the surrounding landscape of this winery on the Sisquoc river.
The main image on the label of a bottle of Rancho Sisquoc wine is San Ramon Chapel, which is located just around the corner.Built in 1875, San Ramon Chapel and was dedicated as Santa Barbara’s first historical landmark in 1967. (County Landmark No. 1, State Landmark No. 877) The church still holds Sunday services today.
If you’re headed south on your way out of town, view more Spanish-style architecture and Santa Maria Valley history at La Purisima Mission State Park, which was founded in 1787. The mission sits on land that was once home to the Chumash people and Spanish settlers in the valley. To date, La Purisima is the most extensively restored mission in California. The mission is open every day for self-guided tours, and they often host reenactments of what life was like at the mission in the early 1800s. The park also has more than 25 miles of hiking trails that can be explored.
With so much to see and do on the central California coast, a proper trip to the Santa Maria Valley requires more than a weekend. You always have the option to extend your stay or come back to check out the arts and entertainment, explore additional wineries to visit and all of the exciting events that take place throughout the year in the valley.