Off to California

True, we live in Los Angeles, but this week is about experiencing two wholly different versions of California:

ranch resort in the Santa Barbara wine country and a garden cottage in Marin County.

Today I’m off on a brief press trip as the guest of my dear friend Ann Shepphird, editor of Association News and writer of the blog Gardens to Tables. The magazine allows her to indulge her great love for hotels, while her blog allows her to dig deep into her love for all things gardenesque. GTT’s Travel section is a fantastic resource for hotel gardens, local farmer’s markets, garden tours and more (btw: you’ll see a few of my posts there).

Ann has invited me along to the Alisal Guest Ranch in the central California town of Solvang, set in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley about 40 minutes above Santa Barbara. It’s about a three-hour drive from Los Angeles, which will finally give busy Ann and I enough time to finally start and finish a whole conversation.

While at Alisal, we’ll hike around the miles of trails, gnaw on some barbecue, try local wines at downtown tasting rooms, and go for a morning horseback ride followed by a flapjack breakfast.

I’m pretty darn excited to get into the saddle for the first time since I was twelve years old, and to try some wines that are (despite my gajillion visits to the area) wholly new to me. I plan on not combining horseback riding and wine drinking…but you never know.



On Thursday, I’m home for one day to clean the house, water plants and convince Toby the Corgi that he’s still loved before handing him off to a friend for the weekend. On Friday morning, Adam and I will take an hour’s flight to Oakland, climb into an SUV with his mom and stepdad, and drive about an hour to Inverness, a sleepy little bayside community in Northern California’s Marin County.

In Inverness, Adam and I will be staying in the one-bedroom Secret Garden Cottage, which is owned and run by my dear friend Amy’s aunt and uncle. We once treated Adam’s folks to a stay here, and they enjoyed it so much that they’ve done the same for us.


It’s wild iris season up there just now, so we’ll all be frolicking in some fleurs as well as indulging in some local oysters and Cowgirl Creamery cheese. There are miles of windswept seashore to explore, and many deep breaths to be taken.

Should be a darn good week — come follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter!


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  1. Ah, sweet trip. I hope to be where you are in July. Sounds like I might be one of many.

  2. Lauren says:

    I totally agree with you- LA is different from the rest of California though to those who don’t live here-would disagree. Santa Barbara is the ideal escape for us LA people. Quiet, minimal traffic and the beaches and wine go for miles- how can you pass that up! I try and go at least once every three month. Countless restaurants and shops I love going to and orchards as well. Santa Ynez is a quick drive up the mountain and well worth it too! Biking the orchards when the weather calls for it-great exercise and a lovely way to spend the day. Whenever I travel there the South Coast Inn ( is my ideal choice for hotels. Elegance to the highest degree and the attentive staff makes it a comfortable stay.

  3. Wine tasting in this part of California is probably the best choice. I feel like most of us live closer to southern California and it is much more pleasant to be closer to the beach then out in the middle of no where. I’ve been to Santa Barbara numerous times and I love it more each and every time. I personally enjoy staying in SB since I’ll have more to do once the wine runs out (which is never!). The Sandman Inn ( Cheap and a great hotel to stay at for any quick weekend getaway!

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