If you’re looking for a change of scenery from San Diego County, Santa Barbara wine country is one of my favorite spots to unwind while enjoying excellent food and wine.
The Drive to Santa Barbara Wine Country From San Diego
From North County San Diego, the drive is just over 200 miles. You’ll have to get through Los Angeles traffic (which can be tough) but as you inch closer to Santa Barbara, Highway 101 shines with endless views of the ocean.
Just off Highway 246, you’ll immerse yourself in rolling hillside views, vineyards and small towns to browse like Los Olivos and Santa Ynez. I visit this area at least once a year and I’m still discovering new spots — and adjusting my “must do” list. The following 3 road trip stops were places I discovered on a recent trip to the area.
3 Road Trip Stops in Santa Barbara Wine Country
If you only have a day to visit this region, here are some spots to enjoy good food, wine and a bit of nature. What more could you need?
FOR FOOD: Industrial Eats in Buellton
In the industrial area of Buellton, hence the name, you’ll find Industrial Eats — a restaurant and butcher shop with an outdoor patio to enjoy a wood-fired pizza, a cheese plate or a beer. The wood-fired pizzas are a must when you’re here. And, if you’re in the mood for wine, try Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards next door.
FOR WINE: Foxen Vineyard and Winery
Just a short drive from Industrial Eats, Foxen Vineyard and Winery is a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine amongst vineyards and the surrounding hillsides. The winery offers two tasting flight options — their Pinot Noir list or their Classic Tasting which is a mix of reds and whites. After your winery tour, drive through Foxen Canyon Road toward Santa Ynez for a serene road trip excursion.
FOR SCENERY: Lake Cachuma
To end your day trip excursion, stop at Lake Cachuma on your way back to Santa Barbara. For $10, you can enjoy the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area which includes a disc golf course, a boat rental shop, camping or a bar/restaurant to enjoy a bite or drink with a lake view. Tent camping is an affordable option for staying longer than the day — rates range from $25-40/night.
For another day trip option in the area, check out my guide to Los Alamos which is just a 30 minute drive from Lake Cachuma.