Family-friendly Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Santa Barbara, California

"Alisal Wranglers"
Hang out with the wranglers – the stars of the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

Hang out with the stars at Alisal Guest Ranch

If you follow my travel writing at Writing Horseback, you’ll know that I am a horse lover. One of my passions is riding horseback, be it on a Fjord horse in Norway or a Quarter Horse in Texas. I love hanging out with the wranglers and talking about great riding experiences. The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang, California has some wonderful wranglers. They are kind to their horses and fantastic with riders from 10 to 80 years old. As the Alisal is close to Los Angeles, the ranch sees its share of Hollywood celebrities.

When I asked one of the wranglers what it is like to ride with a celebrity, her response surprised me. “They are always pleasant to ride with because they are out of their element,” noted Wrangler Julia Testa. When you take a person, or horse, out of their comfort zone, they tend to pay more attention to the person who knows what they are doing. And these wranglers know what they are doing.

"Alisal Lake Bald Eagle"
Cast a line in the 100 acre, spring-fed Alisal Lake or wait for an eagle to fly by

If the walls at Alisal Ranch could talk

If the walls of Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort could talk, you’d know that some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities have played backgammon here and gone horseback riding in the hills of the Santa Ynez valley. But the walls can’t talk and that’s a good thing.  At Alisal Guest Ranch, your privacy is respected. With plenty of activities to fit every fitness level, guests may fill their days with archery, golf, (two 18-hole championship courses), tennis and swimming or they might just lounge by the pool or cast a line in the 100-acred spring-fed Alisal Lake to see if a fish bites or wait for a Bald eagle to fly by.  It’s all in a days work at the ranch.

Family reunions at Alisal

From the Alisal Spa to the Alisal Barn Yard, toddlers to teens will be able to keep themselves entertained. One of the highlights of a stay at the Alisal is the Breakfast Ride on horseback (additional fee) to the Old Adobe. Riders from beginners to advanced will saddle up and ride with Alisal wranglers among sycamore trees heavy with Spanish Lace, and enjoy a Western breakfast buffet next to a crackling campfire.

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Alisal Ranch specializes in repeat customers.  While waiting for my horse, I chatted with some teenagers who had grown up vacationing at the dude ranch. They were raring to go on this early morning breakfast ride!

"Alisal Guest Ranch Select Suite"
Alisal Guest Ranch suites have family-friendly interconnecting rooms

Alisal guest ranch cottages

With 73 guest rooms and suites, decorated in  California ranch design, parents are able to have privacy, while kids bunk in the living room. Interconnecting rooms make Girlfriend Getaways and family reunions possible, while still offering a relaxing environment. In fact, the Alisal subtly creates an unplugged environment. Did I mention that there are no telephones or televisions in the guest cottages? Cell reception is limited at the Alisal. Don’t worry, the library offers big screen tv’s and there is complimentary internet throughout the property AND in the guest rooms for those who are unable to disconnect from the digital world.

Say Ahh to Alisal Spa

After a day of horseback riding, climbing the hills of Santa Barbara County, I was ready for a 60 minute deep tissue massage at The Alisal Spa, ($130.)  Opened in 2008, The 6,000 square foot Alisal Fitness Center and Spa features four treatment rooms, a cardio- weight room and fitness classes from Ab sculpting to Zumba – $15 additional charge for fitness classes.

Insider Tip: Verizon provides good coverage in the immediate vicinity of the Ranch.

Wood-burning fireplace for winter time romance

I stayed in a select suite ($650 per night during my visit, based on two people) that included a ranch breakfast and dinner. All rooms include a wood-burning fireplace, stocked with firewood and a fire starter. Do I really need to confess that I did not have success with my fire? I was even a Campfire girl in my youth! The rooms include daily housekeeping and turndown service, as well as in room coffee maker, refrigerator, iron and board, hair dryer and clock radio.

Check in time 4 p.m.  with noon check out.  Babysitting services available. No pets allowed. Check the website for package deals for the Angler, Cowgirl and Cowboy Boot Camps and Spa Escapes.

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For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Alisal Guest Ranch  on Twitter @AlisalResort and like them on  Facebook.

If You Go:

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort (805) 688-6411 or (800 ) 4-ALISAL

1054 Alisal Road

Solvang, CA 93463

I was a guest of Alisal Guest Ranch.

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