Where are some of your top locations for a weekend getaway? A little while back I had the opportunity to visit Santa Maria Valley for a weekend of food, wine, and adventure. Located on the central California coast, we took the road trip down 101 South Friday afternoon. It was my first time really exploring the area and Santa Maria Valley has so much to offer. I wanted to share some of my favorite things to do on a weekend getaway that will have you back in time for work on Monday.
Where To Stay in Santa Maria
- The Historic Santa Maria Inn: This historic hotel has been here since 1917 and has all the quaint old time charm you can imagine. If you stay here, definitely spend some time wandering through the lobby, hallways, and outdoor areas for some beautiful photo opps and hidden features.
What To See in Santa Maria
- Steve’s ATVs: For anyone who loves a little adrenaline rush, you’ve got to do rentals at Steve’s Oceano. This one of the very few places you can drive on the beach in California, and Steve’s can set you up with ATV or UTV rentals. The speed limit is 15 MPH on the beach, but once you enter the designated dunes area anything goes. They’ll set you up with all the rental and safety gear, your job is just to have fun!
- The Luffa Farm: I’ve been a beauty blogger for nearly 10 years now, and embarrassingly I thought bath luffas came from the ocean. There’s a farm in Nipomo that harvests these bizarre vegetables, in the same family as okra, from seed to finished product. The quality is superior to store-bought luffas because those are imported and sprayed with heavy duty insecticides and chemicals to come overseas. As a result, store-bought luffas can mold and deteriorate more quickly. Natural luffas last at least one year and are incredibly resilient. The Luffa Farm tour is free and you’ll want to pick up a luffa or two in the gift shop before you go.
What To Eat & Drink in Santa Maria
- Willow: Part general store and part restaurant, Willow is the perfect spot to refuel in Nipomo. They have a huge menu complete with pizzas, tacos, burgers, and sandwiches. Get a seat on the patio, soak up some sun, and enjoy the yummy food. I had the fish and chips which were delicious and the portion size was generous.
- Riverbench Winery: Our first winery stop on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail was Riverbench. The tasting room is in a 1920s craftsman home with a standing area and additional outdoor seating. I loved their 2015 Estate Chardonnay and 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir the most, both aged new French Oak. I also enjoyed the 2015 Estate Pinot Noir for more of an every day lighter drinking wine, with still some of those peppery notes.
- Foxen Winery: Foxen has two tasting room options on the same road, which is something I’ve never seen before! Have your choice of tasting at the trendy shed or further down the wine trail at the main building. I loved their Cabernet Francs!
- Shaw’s Steakhouse: You have to try Santa Maria style barbecue when you come to the region, and tri-tip is the most classic cut you can get. Santa Maria style is known for the dry seasoning mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt, and red oak coal grilling technique. The result is flavorful meat with a unique smoky taste. Shaw’s is also conveniently right across the street from the Santa Maria Inn. They have a huge menu including some classic steakhouse fixings and some surprising ones like linguiça and pinquito beans. As you may already know, I’m a Kansas City BBQ enthusiast and Santa Maria style definitely stacks up! Unfortunately Shaw’s is temporarily closed due to fire damage last month, but I hope they reopen soon.
- Naughty Oak Brewing Company: This brewery has an incredible selection of beers across all different flavor profiles and alcohol content. Definitely get a tasting flight and prepare to have your mind blown. I really enjoyed the Anthony Hopkins (IPA), Gold Digger (sour), and Chella (Mexican style lager). Naughty Oak really nails it on variety, flavor, and fun. Watch the vlog to see how many Star Wars puns you can spot on the menu.
- Bello Forno: Pizza is the one food my guy and I can agree on whenever we travel together. Just one block from Naughty Oak there’s Bello Forno, a super cute pizzeria with wood fired pizzas. We sat at the bar while live music played, enjoying thin crust margherita pizza and caprese salad.
Have you been to Santa Maria Valley before? Whether you live in Northern or Southern California, the central coast location makes it a perfect destination for weekend trips.
Thank you Visit Santa Maria Valley for hosting us on this trip.