A Weekend in Buellton

full disclosure: I worked with Visit Buellton to facilitate this trip. All opinions are my own.

When I was a kid my family and I made several trips to Solvang, a quaint town in the Santa Ynez Valley. We’d drive up the 101, get off at the Buellton exit and head a few miles east to the charming Danish town. For many years that was what Buellton was to me – a freeway exit. Home to Pea Soup Andersen’s and…not much else. But in the interim years the town has certainly grown up and now is as much of a destination as its neighbor to the east. With beautiful countryside, a thriving wine scene and quirky roadside attractions it’s become a desirable destination and last weekend I headed there for a quick trip.

Pea Soup Andersen’s, an iconic roadside attraction, has long been synonymous with Buellton as it’s been serving travelers since 1924.

Its billboards are an iconic part of my childhood though I, sadly, never ate there. A weekend in town was the perfect way to remedy that and I stopped in almost as soon as I arrived.

I immediately fell in love with the restaurant and it’s vintage interior. Yes! Iconic places should never change! Of course, I had to order the famous split pea soup.

Let me tell you, it’s delicious. Often famous places skimp on the quality but not here. The freshly made soup is full of flavor and makes a hearty meal. In fact, it was quite cold the entire weekend and the soup was the perfect meal for a winter’s night!

Despite the chill in the air I needed to work off my meal so I headed to the Sana Ynez Valley Botanic Garden. Located in RiverView Park it’s a serene spot perfect for an evening stroll.

As it’s winter, there weren’t too many flowers in bloom but the manicured paths and quaint sculptures provided a lovely atmosphere.

I was especially fond of the quirky family made out of tree stumps and couldn’t resist asking them to pose for a portrait.

Speaking of quirk,did you know Buellton is home to some of the world’s largest birds?

OstrichLand USA is home to over 50 ostriches and emus who have the run of the place. They enjoy acres of land to roam and are fed by the many visitors that stop by.

Like Andersen’s, OstrichLand was another place I continually passed without stopping. Not this trip! This time I stopped and paid our feathered friends a visit.

Of course, I had to feed them and it was fascinating to see these unique creatures up close.

Just don’t try to touch them! They may like you to feed them but they will peck!

Walking through botanic gardens and hanging out with ostriches makes one thirsty and luckily Buellton is home to many spots that can take care of that!

In fact, there’s an entire road, called Industrial Way, filled with tasting rooms, distilleries, breweries and restaurants and I spent an evening strolling along and sampling.

Since the area is know for wine I made sure to stop by one of the many tasting rooms. Magerum Wine Company is a local winery with vineyards located in the Santa Ynez Valley as well as Santa Barbara.Their intimate tasting room is warm and cozy and I enjoyed a delicious wine flight. I especially enjoyed their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and made sure to take home a bottle.

As much as I enjoy wine, I love spirits even more and, lucky for me, Buellton is home to two distinct distilleries. Ascendant manufactures a wide variety of spirits from vodka to gin to whiskey..

Their Caviar Lime Vodka is deliciously tart and made with local limes and their Breaker Whiskeys are smooth and full bodied.

Just down the street from Ascendant is Dorwood Distillery which also offers a range of spirits from vodka to limoncello. I was especially fond of their G7 Gin which is unlike any I’ve had elsewhere. Made with a unique range of spices including cardamom, cinnamon and cloves it’s a flavorful delight.

After all that alcohol I was happy to stop by one of the dining spots on Industrial Way. Industrial Eats, a deceptively casual spot offering an array of innovative cuisine, was the perfect place to grab a bite.

I enjoyed a prosciutto and arugula pizza, freshly baked in their wood-fire oven, and it was absolutely delicious.

Of course, I can’t spend every hour of the day eating, drinking and seeing the sites and, thankfully, Buellton offers a range of overnight accommodations. I stayed at the brand new, Hampton Inn and Suites and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay.

Located just off the freeway (yet far enough away to keep it nice and quiet) it offers comfortable accommodations at an inexpensive price point.

The rooms are huge and offer a variety of amenities such as a kitchenette, a large work desk and huge bathroom filled with all the necessary toiletries.

Complimentary breakfast is offered every morning in the modern downstairs lounge and free coffee, tea and hot cocoa are available at all hours. Out back, there’s a large pool, a bocce ball court and a lounge area complete with fire-pits to enjoy.

If it hadn’t been so cold I would have definitely taken advantage of these.

After years of passing through, I’m so glad I finally took the time to fully experience Buellton. Although, I spent a long weekend in town I didn’t manage to see everything so I’ll definitely be returning. I can’t wait.

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