Friday, May 15, 2015

Explore the Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley

I, my husband and family had the great, good fortune to live in this area for over 20 years. We fell in love with this spectacular valley that boasts the Danish town of Solvang, rolling hills and world-class wineries. The area is located about 40 minutes inland from Santa Barbara.

When the story for my first contemporary romance novel, “Julia’s Star,” started taking shape in my imagination, I couldn’t think of a better, more nurturing place for Julia and her family to live.

Here are 5 things to do if you have the opportunity to visit Julia’s home town:

1. The wine industry contributes more than $800 million to the Santa Barbara region, with wineries in the greater Santa Ynez Valley accounting for a good portion of those dollars. Many famous-label wineries open their doors to the public for wine tasting and tours. Here’s a handy listing of area wineries.


2. Visit the charming town of Solvang. Founded in 1910 by Danish immigrants, the town’s architecture transplants you to Copenhagen complete with Ebelskivers (a mouth-watering, round pancake puffs), quaint gift shops and authentic Danish bakeries. While you are there, wander over to the Santa Ines Mission and treat yourself to a bit of early California history.

3. Get outside and explore. You can rent bikes and Solvang Segways, take a hot air balloon ride, go horseback riding or if you want to be more sedate, painting lessons from Gypsy Studios that bills itself as ‘Art on Wheels.’ During your travels, don’t be surprised if you encounter lamas, ostriches, cattle, horses, goats, sheep and other assorted animals.

4. Take in an open-air theater under the stars from June to September at the Pacific Conservatory for thePerforming Arts in downtown Solvang – but be sure to bring a jacket as the evenings can be chilly. I volunteered as a Red Coat (usher in PCPA parlance) for many years and have fond memories of the many productions I saw there.

5. Visit one of the exceptional spas and pamper yourself.

Julia’s Star is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.