by Alicia Ellis
Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is located in the heart of Santa Barbara County, nestled in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. The Ranch sits on a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch, and is home to beautiful unspoiled land everywhere you turn. In addition to the enormous ranch, Alisal guests have access to a private, 100-acre, spring-fed lake, which is home to a wide array of wildlife. If you are looking to get the kids back in touch with nature, this is a good place to do it.
Our Editor Loves
- Operating cattle ranch
- Loads of outdoor activities
- All-inclusive rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
There are 73 guestrooms at the ranch, which range from studios to spacious one-bedroom suites. Each unit includes a wood-burning fireplace with firewood, high-beamed ceilings, a refrigerator and coffee maker. But be sure to warn the kids that there are no in-room TV's.
Everyone...8 to 75 had a fabulous time...stay as long as you can so there is time for all the great activities & relaxing! The Saturday BBQ was delicious & great musicians..
Animals at the barn friendly & fun...
Rent a bass boat & enjoy the lake!
Nice relaxing vacation. Kids (13, 11 & 10) had a great time. The owl prowl with Jay was their favorite next to the horse back riding lesson with Savannah. The breakfast ride offered Wed and Sun was beautiful and the pancakes were fantastic!! Such a change from the usual go go go vacations we are used to. Rooms were clean (we had 64 along the drive in with the pasture view) and was plenty of space for the 5 of us. We will try to go back in October with friends and I think we will make it an annual trip. It was expensive but mid week is offered at a discount. Lovely place
A big draw for families is the horseback riding, and Alisal has more than 50 miles of trails to explore along the valley. Depending on your experience level, you can take lessons or choose from more than 100 horses, and even participate in rodeos in the summer. On Tuesdays and Thursdays riders are treated to an evening trail ride with gorgeous sunsets and view of the local wildlife. Kids ages 4 to 6 receive personalized attention with arena lessons available three mornings a week. Hop aboard the hay wagon or follow the guide for breakfast buffet at the Alisal's historic Adobe Camp where you'll find a campfire, flapjacks and a even singing cowboy.
Not many ranches are also blessed with a private lake. Fishing (for bass) on Alisal Lake is reserved for guests of the ranch. All bass are natural spawn wild fish and fishing is "catch and release." You can rent a good selection of fishing equipment and boats for a reasonable fee, including two-person fishing boats and motorboats (which start at $40), kayaks (start at $30) and fishing rods (which start at $15). You can also rent of one three Catalina Expo twelve and a half foot sailboats, and take sailing lessons if you so desire. Or, simply take it all in on a nature walk around the lake.
During the summer, the Alisal offers a kids' program for children. Kiddie Korral is for kids ages 3 to 6, the MAC Club is for 7 to 12, and Teen Times for ages 13 to 17. There are activities that take place all day, every day for the kids. When you check in you get an activity schedule that outlines all the great things that kids and families can do. Just as an example of a few of the many activities for kids are relay races, face painting, roping classes, chalk art, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, helping at the barn, water balloon tosses, mountain biking, target paintball, volleyball, teen night out at the movies, parties, dances, and zip lines. There are also two golf courses with a pro shop and lessons available. The Fitness Center and Spa is spread out along 6,000 feet and features a well-equipped cardio weight room, private or group fitness class and the Spa features our signature treatments including hot stone massages, facials, and more.
Designed by the legendary Billy Bell Jr., the Ranch Course, open since 1956, is exclusively for Guests and Members. This par-72 course stretches for 6,500 yards.
Breakfasts and dinners are included in your room rate. Breakfast is in the form of a buffet which features fruit, homemade cinnamon rolls and your favorite morning entrees. Dinner time is dress up time with jackets required for men over 16 and no jeans allowed, and the chef specializes in "California food with a Western flair." The dinner menu changes daily and always includes at least 10 choices. The Oak Room features nightly entertainment; and there is a list of babysitters available from the ranch for a night out. Lunch is available daily at the Chuck Wagon and serves a variety of traditional favorites for kids.