Santa Ynez Valley
Welcome to the Santa Ynez Valley, home to great cycling adventures, far from the congestion in urban centers and close to wineries and breweries. You’ll enjoy great local produce in the many fine restaurants and relax in bicycle-friendly hotels and inns.
Rich cycling options with amenities to match
Worthy of a week’s getaway, some of the region’s best bike routes await. Make it a car-free adventure – connect to the AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner at Guadalupe Station to start your loop and depart via tiny Surf, less than 10-miles west of Lompoc.
Guadalupe to Santa Maria to Los Olivos
Guadalupe to Los Olivos
Today’s gorgeous and more challenging ride follows Foxen Canyon Road into lovely Los Olivos. Challenging for wine lovers at least, as you’ll be tempted to linger at the many wineries along this route.
Start at the Guadalupe AMTRAK Station then ride east into downtown Santa Maria. Depending upon your arrival time you may want to check in at the historic Santa Maria Inn for the night, where your bike is always welcome in the room.
Your route to Los Olivos follows the bucolic Foxen Canyon Road, where you’ll pass several wineries and vineyards. Once in Los Olivos you’ll find several very fine restaurants and more than 20 wine tasting rooms crammed into the tiny downtown.
Bike-friendly accommodations available
Feel like splurging? Book your stay at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and Spa in downtown Los Olivos; you deserve it. Bike-friendly? They frequently host cyclists training for the Amgen Tour.
Make Los Olivos your base camp
From Los Olivos you can access several other fantastic rides:
When it’s time to depart consider your options:
- Fat tire bike riders may well want to hack their way up Refugio Pass – it’s paved from the summit to the ocean. Check road conditions to learn the state of the infrequently maintained Refugio Road.
- Another option is to ride to Buellton, taking the southbound 101 Fwy which soon intercepts the Pacific Coast Bike Trail in Gaviota.
- Or ride Santa Rosa Road to Lompoc then follow W. Ocean Ave to the Surf AMTRAK Station to avoid riding the 101 Fwy to Santa Barbara.
Christine’s Birthday Loop
Christine’s Birthday Loop
The Santa Ynez Valley (Spanish for Saint Agnes) offers some of the best year-round bike riding in Santa Barbara County on quiet rural roads.
This 40+ mile ride goes through areas planted with wine grapes mixed in with rolling hills, ancient oak trees, cattle and horse ranches. I love it because it reminds me of the family farm where I grew up in France. It also feels like I took a trip somewhere even if it’s only a 45 minute drive from Santa Barbara.
Make it your tradition
When I turned 50, I wanted to celebrate and share something that I enjoy the most with friends. My decision was easy to make and the January birthday ride has become a very fun tradition.
Figueroa Mountain Road
The signature ride of the entire central coast?
It’s a contender.
Start from downtown Los Olivos heading southeast. Ride the route counter clockwise as it’s less steep and a dirt road section on Happy Canyon Road is better handled going up than down.
An ambitious climb
This 40-mile loop climbs relentlessly offering great views along the route. It’s the signature ride of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Linger near the summit where you’ll enjoy vistas of the Santa Ynez Valley. Return via Figueroa Mountain Road.
Explore Los Olivos
You’ve earned a cold beverage and there’s no place better to find one than Los Olivos with its 25 wine tasting rooms. Splurge and spend the night at the bicycle-friendly Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa.
Santa Rosa Road
Santa Rosa Road
Want to ride through wine country?
This is your route.
Film buffs will enjoy riding where “Sideways” was filmed in 2004, but if you hit half of the local wineries and tasting rooms, you’ll never finish your ride: Alma Rosa, Terravant, Pench Ranch, Spear, Clos Pepe – and you’re not halfway yet. After lunch in Lompoc you’ll return via Santa Rosa Rd where you’ll pass D’Alfonso & Curran, Sanford, Fiddlestix, LaFond, and Thorne near the end of this ride.
A moderate level ride, the route follows busy 246 to Lompoc, a great spot for lunch. You’ll be riding the shoulder on pavement that is in the process of being refreshed.
How to get here
One option is to take the AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner to the tiny Surf Station, and do this ride starting and ending from Lompoc.
Passing-through riders will be tempted as the Pacific Coast Bike Route takes you straight into Lompoc – after riding Santa Rosa Road east to Buellton, you can then hop on the southbound 101 Fwy.
Where to go from here
Remote Jalama Beach is a great destination for a bike-overnight. Pack a tent and sleeping bag and head for Lompoc.
How to get here
Take the AMTRAK Surfliner to Surf, a tiny station along the coast, 9.5 flat miles west of Lompoc. Your bike rides free, just be sure to reserve it, too.
Maybe spend one night in a Lompoc hotel and one on the beach? Lompoc has an abundance of small town charms. Sample some the many downtown wine tasting rooms for your first night of this weekend getaway.
Your route to Jalama Beach has no services along the way, so stock up on snacks before you depart Lompoc. The Jalama Beach Store makes the effort all worthwhile – sample the World Famous Jalama Burger.
The beach can be windy and cool at all times of year so bundle up accordingly.
Where to go from here
Gotta head back home? Follow your route back to Surf. If you’ve got more time for exploring, you’re in luck. As you head back to Lompoc divert onto Santa Rosa Road, which takes you to Buellton and beyond. Let this Lompoc excursion be the beginning of your Santa Ynez Valley explorations.
Photos by Frank Peters & Eve Sanford
Solvang is hugely popular with tourists of all types – its proximity to Santa Barbara, only 33 miles, makes it an easy day trip. Extend your visit by renting a bike and taking this delightful Solvang-Los Olivos loop ride.
Start in Solvang
You can start at either end of this route. If you begin in Solvang take Alamo Pintado Road to Los Olivos.
Los Olivos is all about wine – there are 25 tasting rooms in town, plus lots of great food. Check out the Bear and Star in the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and the superb Wine Merchant Cafe directly across the street. Beer lovers will be happy to find Figueroa Mountain Brewery in town and Mattei’s Tavern will tie it all together.
Return via Ballard Canyon Road
When it’s time to depart take Ballard Canyon Road. It’s quiet with little traffic and the views are terrific. Visit Rusack Vineyards – it’s your last wine tasting opportunity before returning to Solvang,
Got fat tires? Don’t mind a climb? Prefer it to riding along the freeway? Consider this rugged alternative.
Your highway alternative
As of May 1, 2017 Refugio Road is CLOSED.
Check Santa Barbara County road closures here.
Fat tire route
Today’s your big ride – to get into Santa Barbara you must climb the coastal range, the Santa Ynez Mountains.
This route keeps you away from the highway alternatives, you’ll be climbing this quiet mountain pass far from automobiles.
Start the day with Ballard Cyn Road, the scenic route from Los Olivos to Solvang.
The Santa Ynez Valley side of Refugio Road isn’t paved to the summit – you’ll want fat tires for this climb.
After the summit the road is rough with a thousand filled potholes. Take it slow on your descent.
Goleta Beach Park
This route takes you off the freeway as you enter Goleta. Pass through UC Santa Barbara and into Goleta Beach Park where you’ll want to linger at the Beachside Bar-Cafe, (be advised – bike parking here has a lot to be desired).
The Obern Trail
Pick up the Obern Trail at Goleta Beach Park – the next several miles will take you on an off-road trail and quiet neighborhood streets. It’s well lit at night, too.
Once you’re ready to move on follow the peaceful off-road trail to Modoc Road and into Santa Barbara proper.
Modoc Road is well signed as the Crosstown Route. To avoid urban traffic follow the route map closely as you zigzag through the westside. At W. Anapamu you’ll ride up a corkscrew ramp to access the pedestrian overpass of the 101 Fwy which puts you in downtown Santa Barbara.
Photo credits: Frank Peters