One of the most charming towns to visit in the Santa Ynez Valley is Los Olivos! This historic railroad town makes for a relaxing weekend getaway or fun-filled day. There’s plenty to do: award-winning wine tasting, fine or casual dining, great shopping and fine art.
Plus, you can follow the Los Olivos Sparking Wine Trail, rent e-bicycles for the day to get around town or take in the sights further afield like food in Ballard Canyon or wine & food along Foxen Canyon.
Get the town map here.
All around Los Olivos are views of Santa Barbara County’s vineyards and horse ranches, and the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail starts in Los Olivos and stretches north, winding its way through beautiful hills and vineyards. There is also plenty of history, and a self-guided Historical Walking Tour, to see the Victorian architecture, downtown buildings and residences that date back over 100 years. The town was formed in 1887 as a result of the Pacific Coast Railway replacing the Stagecoach Line, and was named after a nearby ranch of olive trees.
One Day in Los Olivos
If you’re early enough for breakfast, go past Los Olivos to the tiny hamlet of Ballard, where Bob’s Well Bread has its second outpost (original in Los Alamos). Baked goods, bread and croissants are some of the best you’ll find this side of France, and breakfast items are delicious and satisfying. And grab some bread to go for later. You’ll need it for all the wine tasting!
Most of Los Olivos doesn’t open until 11am, so J. Woeste is a great spot to stop starting at 10am. This eclectic shop has a funky garden you can spend hours winding through, finding just the right planter, fountain, or garden decoration. It’s a wonderful place to be inspired. Fun home goods are also inside the historic home on the property.
When you’re ready for wine tasting, Los Olivos is the mecca. There are over 30 wine tasting rooms in town, plus a cider bar and local brewery. Many require reservations, so planning ahead is key. Some allow walk-ins, so if you’re more spontaneous (or if you’re a member of the winery), you can still find spots to taste. Everything in the entire town is walking distance to each other, so do a little research here, and check with the winery before you arrive.
If you are a Champagne lover, there are 16 different spots to try local Sparkling Wine here in Los Olivos! Check out the Los Olivos Sparkling Wine Trail here.
The best casual, and delicious, lunch in town is at Panino, or on the weekends, tri-tip sandwiches from R Country Market. Either way, take your delicious sandwich to the small, green park in the center of town, and enjoy the atmosphere. Across the street is a historic building (now wine tasting) and Los Olivos Post office, which you may recognize from a movie.
After lunch, there is always time for more wine tasting, perusing some fine art and shopping. There are 3 women’s clothing shops with different styles and prices, plus Jedlicka’s for authentic western gear for the whole family. Don’t miss the Los Olivos General Store for an old-fashioned experience and trendy gifts and jewelry.
If you’re staying in town at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn, you can rest at the pool in the afternoon. For dinner, you can choose among 3 stellar choices: Nella at the inn, across the street at Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café, or Bar Le Côte (from the same owners as Michelin-starred Bell’s in Los Alamos). The LO Wine Merchant Café is a classic in town with tons of outdoor seating, was featured in the movie “Sideways,” and lets you eat, shop for wine to take home, and see art all at once!
Two Days in Los Olivos
If you have two days in town, you will want to do more shopping and wine tasting after breakfast. You can also rent some e-bicycles that make for easy pedaling, and head over to Clairmont Lavender farm, where you can tour the purple fields, shop for homemade products and bring a picnic. Beckmen Winery is also nearby, with great wines and a lovely pond for tasting
Or, head north to Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and stop at Petros for wine and lunch. This Greek spot offers Mediterranean food and local and Greek wines in a gorgeous vineyard setting and beautiful barn. There are a few more wineries on lower Foxen Canyon Trail, or you may want to relax back in town.
Get back to town in time for a rest, then get ready for cocktails and dinner. After all, there are still 2 more spots to try.