Race vacations are one of my guilty pleasures. I may not spend money on fancy shoes (running shoes don’t count) or party dresses and we aren’t people who eat out very often because I’m always saving up for our next adventure!
I know I’m going to run any new place that we go, but race vacations often give me that added push to go somewhere I might otherwise put on the someday list. Which is why I am really excited to be running the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon May 11! (Use code RTTF10 for 10% either individual or relay registration)
Thanks to the race host, I headed out there for a kick off event to learn more about the area and share it with you. Get ready to pack your bags and grab your bib for a great vacation. Here’s a little of what you might do out there!
Santa Barbara Wine Valley Itinerary
A few days in Santa Barbara and then up in the Wine Valley at Solvang and I.Cannot.Wait.To.Go.Back. Hopefully, some of you are already planning ahead to join me at the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon! It’s mother’s day weekend, so what a perfect little getaway for everyone, whether running the half, the relay, or cheering and sipping.
Day 1: Getting Settled
Head up to Solvang to grab your hotel room and pick up your race packet. You’ll absolutely be dying to explore this little town. It feels like you’ve stepped in to a European town, yet rarely seems to be overcrowded. That’s one of the first things I noticed around SB in general. Unlike many Cali towns, I could actually drive to things and while there are plenty of people, there’s plenty of space to breathe. Try to contain yourself to a short walk, knowing you can see more after the race and then seek out your night before and pre-race meals.
On the way in to town you’ll notice a large Frontier Grocery, which is a lot like Whole Foods with a hot bar, juices, smoothies and mmmm vegan cookies. This is such a fantastic option to have on hand for those pre-race foods.
Post race you’ll be soaking in the vast amount of bakeries!Mmmm imagine how delightful that warm Danish is going to taste after 13.1 miles.
Though the town has beautiful Dutch facade on every building, you’ll quickly learn there’s a wide variety of cuisine. Delicious options range from cafes to Italian to Mexican, or get in to the spirit and try a Danish meal with sausage, pickled herring cauliflower, meatloaf and red cabbage!
Day 2: Race Day
Wake up and find your way to the start line in Solvang. From there it’s time to relax and enjoy this beautiful course! You’ll be running through vineyards, so start marking your spots for what to taste later, ha!
I won’t like there are a few hills, but THIS RIGHT HERE is what you get at the top of that hill and every hill is followed by a long wonderful dowhill.
In fact, Solvang Park where the race is hosted is surrounded by over 120 local wineries, some of which will indeed be ready for you at the finish line. Even if you aren’t ready to sip, it means the views are simply stunning.
Plan plenty of time to relax and enjoy this one of a kind finish line with 20 wineries there for tasting, music and that glorious California sunshine. After that, enjoy a long hot shower and perhaps a nap! But not too long, there’s too much to soak up.
Now you can walk around Solvang and find your celebratory dinner. If you’re feeling super ambitious, JP Sears of the hilarious prancercize video will be doing a comedy show in Santa Barbara at 7PM.
PS – Your non-running family will get extra time to enjoy Solvang and maybe a little Bloody Mary before hoping over the finish area to cheer like crazy!
Day 3: Explorations
Even in March everything was so lush and green, I can’t wait to see everything in May!! Especially if the super bloom is in full effect because they’ve gotten so much rain. A little peak of it was coming while I was there simply along side the roads as you drive!
Feeling like you need to experience more of wine country? First, you’ll now know where many of the wineries are located because you passed them on the course! You can head back for a wine tasting or they even have a Painting and Wine Tasting event on Saturday!
Feeling a bit more adventurous?? Consider a horseback wine tour! While I’m the lone weirdo who doesn’t drink, I want to do this. Have I mentioned how freaking beautiful it is yet?? Plus, your one a freaking horse. Freaking yeah.
Continue the animal theme by heading to Ostrich Land!! Yes, you read that correctly, get up close and personal with these incredible birds and emus as well. Plus, you know my obsession with street art, right??
All my Instagram friends you’re going to want this shot… which I sadly did not get this weekend and thus clearly want next time.
Head to the Ocean
Though I doubt you’ll have had enough of the beauty, maybe you’re feeling the need to settle your bum in some sand and listen to the ocean. Time to transfer your fun for the remaining nights to Santa Barbara!
Day 4: Santa Barbara
Whether you spent your 3rd day in Solvang or headed down already, you need to come back this way for the airport so you might as well enjoy the town.
Besides enjoying the ocean, what’s on tap:
- Whale Watching tour that weekend specifically!
- Ganna Walska Lotus Land – their Botanical Garden which requires reservations to keep numbers down and the experience enjoyable
- Kayaking, SUP or surf lessons
Rent a bike! This is such a fun way to get the legs moving without feeling overly taxing, since it’s a beautiful flat path along the ocean. Pack a lunch and enjoy a day cruising, pausing and sightseeing. If the legs are still just too tuckered out, then opt for an electric bike or make others do the work with a surrey!
Or if you’re feeling like you need more adventure, check out one of the easy trails like More Mesa which gives you insane views. Then do the Mountain to Seaside bike tour!! You’ll get to see a ton, take lots of photos and pretty much coast downhill!
Did you know SB has an airport?? And it’s so freaking wonderful that you can get to the airport minutes before your flight and be on your way, maximizing every moment of your vacation!!!
From Santa Barbara it’s about a 40 minute drive to Solvang and I’m telling you it was stunning. I loved the drive, even stopping at a few of the Vista Points to take photos and soak in the views.
For my LA friends, you could hop the train to Santa Barbara and then I’ve heard rumblings that the SB Running store provided buses last year to and from the event. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but it would make for a super easy long weekend!
Have you ever been to Santa Barbara? Add in your tips!
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