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

A Rustic California Guest Ranch Perfect for Families

Less than an hour from Santa 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 to aebelskivers (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.

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

Time seemed to slow down as we turned onto the hotel’s long driveway, flanked by mature oaks and verdant pastures where quarter horses with shiny coats were grazing peacefully.

A walkway leading to the spa at the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang, California - Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
The entrance to our Studio Room at the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

The charismatic check-in staff presented us with an extensive directory of activities offered at the estate from sunrise to sundown, plus a list of nearby wineries that offer complimentary tastings to ranch guests. A golf cart transferred us to our Studio Room. There, we immediately felt at home. The décor featured an earthy color palette; a thick, colorful Pendleton blanket set on a leather chair in front of a woodburning stone fireplace; and vintage artwork that brightened the tan-colored walls. A gratis bottle of the estate wine was a welcome touch, one that we appreciated later that evening as we lounged on a bench to watch the sunset.

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