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Along for the Ride: The Alisal Ranch

Too often, I never make it further north than Santa Barbara for the weekend, when just a little farther up the road there's a wild and natural playground waiting to be explored. And The Alisal Ranch is the perfect place to begin.
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The California coastal region north of Santa Barbara is magnificent. A little inland, the area is lush and fertile and produces top-notch foods and wines. I'll use any pretext I can to spend time in the Santa Ynez Valley or the Santa Rita Hills.

This time I headed up there to "ride me some horses" - as a wrangler from that neck of the woods might say - and to check out the spa at The Alisal Ranch, a destination that is still off the map to most of my friends, though families have been going there literally for generations.

Technically the ranch is in Solvang, but its vibe has nothing to do with that kitschy little town best know for its fudge, pretzels and Danish pastries.

For more, click through and take a look at the slideshow below.