Above: The pool at the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang, California

Less than an hour fromSanta Barbara, the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort had been on our radar for some time. Located 3 miles south of Solvang, a quaint Danish town complete with a windmill and themed shops selling everything from handmade clogs toaebelskivers(traditional Danish ball-shaped pancakes), it is set on a 10,000-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley. Originally a working cattle ranch, the property of 73 rooms and studios was purchased in 1943 by Charles Pete Jackson Jr., who opened it as a hotel in 1946. The property is still owned by the Jackson family, but the guest experience has been enhanced by the addition of two 18-hole golf courses, a full-service spa, an equestrian center and a kids’ club.

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