Blue Skys and mountains with beautiful grape fields
Animation of Plover Walking

Discover a slice of California’s Central Coast

Not just the place, but the people, culture, and traditions that thrive here.

In Santa Maria Valley, we believe sometimes less can lead to more. When you have less worry, you’re able to seize the moment.

When there’s less to
distract you,

you can embrace
more experiences.

Foxen Canyon landscape

Wine country

Slowly swirl a glass of wine in the sunshine.

Hiking Los Flores Park

Outdoor adventure

Throttle up and race dune buggies alongside ocean waves.

Barbecuing tri-tip

Barbecue tradition

Savor Santa Maria Style barbecue you can only find in California.

Child Picking Berries

Family activities

You can always count on having more time together.

Explore Santa Maria

California Wine Country,

Farm-fresh food, tastings, tours, wineries, and a myriad of ways to explore it all—either by car, bike, or trolley—make California’s wine country one of the most popular destinations for wine lovers and foodies alike, especially when you’re experiencing it #SantaMariaStyle.

California is responsible for 81% of the country’s wine sales (right behind Italy, France, and Spain). With more than 637,000 acres dedicated to wine grapes, our distinct climate and diverse landscape make for incredibly unique wines and a variety of different ways to experience them all. Whether you’re in the mood for a high-end pairing near the coast, a cave tour among the cliffs, a trolley ride through Santa Maria Valley’s rolling hills, or a friendly barn tasting with local winemakers–and everything in between–Santa Maria Valley is California wine country, and we have something for everyone.

A man and woman laughing and drinking wine
Explore the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, where you’ll find a diverse selection of world-class wines within our group of 14 wineries along the 30 mile stretch of road.
Wine Grapes

The Perfect Blend

While California’s wine country runs the length of the entire Golden State, Santa Barbara wine country is, by far, the largest piece of it, clocking 77,000 acres with over 60 different varieties that span more than 30 miles from east to west.

Santa Barbara County – the best county to experience California wine country (sure, we might be a little biased, but it’s California’s most popular wine region for a reason) – is home to Santa Maria Valley and is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s beautiful Central Coast. Everything south of Los Angeles, all the way to the border of Mexico, is known as the South Coast wine region. The geography and the terrain vary quite a bit (similar to the Central Coast), from cool coastal climates to warm inland valleys, making it possible for a wide variety of grapes to thrive in the region.

Swirl your way through California wine country, #SantaMariaStyle.

Explore the Great Outdoors

Here in Santa Maria Valley, our mild, year-round weather, wide-open spaces and diverse coastal ecosystem combine to offer virtually unlimited outdoor adventures, from birdwatching to beach walking, golfing to bicycling.

Equestrians, birders, mountain bikers and hikers alike find room to roam at Los Flores Ranch, a local parkland that offers 1,800 acres of open space and a range of stunning trails and vistas. Located eight miles south of Santa Maria on the east side of Highway 101 in the Solomon Hills, the park offers trails on existing dirt paths and paved roads that were originally created for oil and ranch operations.

Also consider the family-friendly Preisker Park with horseshoe pits, disc golf and playgrounds in north Santa Maria; the peaceful boardwalk of coastal Oso Flaco Lake; and the remote beauty of Point Sal State Beach.

A Woman running on a trail through green pastures
Enjoy the picturesque views offered at Los Flores Ranch, or bike the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail through the rolling hills and vineyards.
A group of road cyclists riding through wine country

The golf courses in Santa Maria Valley and adjacent areas are nearly as diverse as the local ecology, with everything from full-size public links to stunning resorts, beachfront fairways to panoramic mountain views. Local rates are highly affordable by today’s standards. Add in our mild year-round weather and you have the makings of an unparalleled golfing experience. Several Santa Maria hotels offer special golf packages to make a visitor’s Santa Maria Valley golf experience all the more convenient and affordable.

The famed Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is a haven for cyclists who seek wide-open backroads and stunning vineyard views, along with ample wine tasting opportunities. Tepusquet Road is another phenomenal cycling trail, offering 16 miles of winding roads and tree-lined avenues. Lastly, Santa Maria Mesa Road offers yet another charming ride through rural Santa Maria Valley.

Santa Maria Valley is located in the heart of the Pacific Flyway, the path that migrating birds follow along the Pacific coastline of the United States and Mexico. According to one expert, “An energetic and persistent birder can identify well over 100 species of birds in a single day around the Santa Maria Valley.” Local vantages for excellent birdwatching include Waller Park, Preisker Park, Pioneer Park, Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, Twitchell Reservoir, Point Sal and Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area.

It’s time to plan your trip to the great outdoors.

Experience California Car Show Culture in Santa Maria Valley

Calling all classic and tricked-out car aficionados – come one, come all! Santa Maria Valley is here to spice up your car culture experience on the California Central Coast – some might say it's ‘how we roll.’ From hot rods to low riders and every customizable wheeled companion in between, the culture here is for all and spans street rods, muscle cars, custom trucks and then some.

A line of classic cars parked on a street outside the Hitching Post
Check out all of the classics during the All Ford Car Show, either at the event or around town!
Close up of A line of classic cars parked on a street outside the Hitching Post

If car shows fuel your fire, put the pedal to the metal and roll into Santa Maria Valley to check out the scene. Here, we offer a place for fellow gearheads to gather and celebrate their antique rides. Not to brag, but we’re basically keeping history alive in Santa Maria Valley. No matter which kind you fancy, there’s something here for you.

In 1982, Rich and Penny Pichette, whose legacy has been credited with bringing international tourism to Santa Maria Valley, started what we know today as one of the most influential car shows in Santa Maria Valley, the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals. Penny has been dubbed “Queen of Customs,” and is still heavily involved in the car community. She has since taken over both the club and its car shows.

The annual Elks Car Show, put on by the Santa Maria Elks Lodge 1538, has been around for more than 25 years. We’ve had events with up to 170 entries in a single year! This show is always free to the public and often helps raise money for charities in the area.

Don’t skip the Downtown Classic Car Show – one that’s gained a lot of popularity within the Santa Maria community. The event is hosted by People for Leisure and Youth (a.k.a. PLAY, supported by the Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Department) and the Santa Maria Impalas Car Club. This smaller-scale show includes motorcycles and lowriders in addition to hot rods.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Maria Valley, check out our events listing for all of the above and more.

Santa Maria Style Barbecue: A 150-Year-Old Tradition

Santa Maria Style barbecue is a culinary tradition that dates back to the mid-1800s. The Spanish ranchers of the time would host feasts each spring for their friends, family and the local vaqueros. Over the years, Santa Maria Style barbecue has become renowned for its unique, smoky flavor. As culinary trends continue to change, Santa Maria Style barbecue proves that good taste never goes out of style.

A close up of a rack of ribs on a barbecue
Santa Maria Style barbecue is a mainstay of California’s culinary heritage. As more and more people seek regional authenticity in their food, the popularity of Santa Maria Style barbecue continues to grow.
A close up of a chef salting a tri-tip roast over an open flame

Santa Maria Style barbecue consists of beef tri-tip seasoned with a dry rub of salt, pepper and garlic. The meat is grilled over coals of red oak, which grows in the Central Coast and helps give Santa Maria Style tri-tip its hearty flavor. Our tri-tip is topped with salsa and paired with small, pink beans called pinquito beans, which are native to Santa Maria Valley. Traditional barbecue restaurants serve tri-tip with a green salad and grilled garlic bread dipped in melted butter.

The Elks Lodge in Santa Maria Valley perfected their recipe for the Santa Maria Style feast in the 1950s, and they still prepare it the same way today. In fact, the recipe was so popular it was copyrighted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1978. This cookbook will show you how you can prepare your very own Santa Maria Style barbecue meal, complete with pinquito beans, salsa, salad and garlic bread.

When you’re here, it won’t be hard to fill your plate.

# Santa Maria Style

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