Santa Ynez Valley
Why here: If you've seen Sideways, you'll recognize these sunny, oak-dotted hills framed by the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountains. Along with delish wines (the region is famous for pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah), you'll discover a ranch culture and European-style enclaves, like Solvang (love the Danish architecture) and Los Olivos, a town that's half Victorian, half Wild West.
See and do: Don't miss Sanford Winery. Its Spanish-style tasting room is built from 15,000 handmade adobe bricks. (We suggest focusing on its small-production pinot noirs.) Move on to quaff chardonnay in a Mediterranean-style villa at Melville, then break for baked brie at the wisteria-covered Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café.
Stay: A multimillion-dollar nip-and-tuck has freshened up Fess Parker Inn (at left), a Los Olivos institution: Think 19 cozy rooms with gas fireplaces. Or take horseback-riding lessons at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, set on 10,000 acres in Solvang. From $245; Fess Parker Inn. From $515, with breakfast and dinner; Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort.
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Source: Courtesy of Fess Parker Inn & Spa