Visiting Cold Spring Tavern

When traveling I love checking out things off the beaten path. And when I say traveling I mean literally going from place to place. Even if I’m headed somewhere 20 minutes away I’ll often skip the freeway and take city streets just to discover new places. Recently, I headed to Lompoc for the day and on the way home I decided to skip the 101 and instead take the San Marcos Pass towards Santa Barbara. I must admit, I chose this route specifically to visit a hidden treasure – Cold Spring Tavern.

The San Marcos Pass or Highway 154 is a historic route that links the town of Los Olivos to Santa Barbara. From the 1860’s to 1910 it served as a stagecoach route and, though it’s now replaced by a highway, it remains much as it was all those years ago.

In 1868, a stagecoach stop opened along the route and 150 years later the Cold Spring Tavern still serves travelers.

How could I not visit such a historic spot? After spending a day in Lompoc with my mom and sister we all agreed it would be the perfect place to grab dinner on our way home. After exiting highway 154 we traveled down a narrow winding road and wondered if we were headed in the right direction. Suddenly, we came across several parked cars and soon the tavern was in view.

What an oasis! Hidden in a corner of the canyon it’s like we were suddenly transported 100 years into the past.

Since it was a Saturday the tavern was holding it’s weekly outdoor barbecue. The food smelled enticingly delicious and we made it just in time for last call. But…it was also time for the restaurant to officially open for the evening. Although, prices were a bit higher we decided to skip the ‘cue and grab a table so we could have the full tavern experience.

It was 100% the right call. The interior was chock full of taxidermy and tacky treasures accumulated over its century and a half of operation. It was absolutely wonderful. And the food was incredibly delicious. We all decided to try their famous Tri-Tip Sandwich and it was out of this world good. So good that I dug right in and never even thought of taking a picture.

Cold Spring Tavern was everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s a true California treasure that I took far too long to visit. Luckily, I visit the area regularly so I know I’ll be enjoying it again soon.




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