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There’s something so magical about the rustic life. Then again, we’re envisioning cottages with Pendleton blankets, gourmet cuisine and a stellar wine selection.
That’s what we found during a recent stay at Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, a dude ranch 35 miles north of Santa Barbara that’s been bouncing Hollywood types on horseback since the 1940s--and was more recently the site of The Millionaire Matchmaker's own TV date. The 73 cottages, central hacienda, barns and a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch are family-run, and the place maintains charming traditions (men must wear jackets to dinner, and guest rooms are television-free).
We woke for a hayride to a pancake breakfast, then took a trail ride led by one of the ranch’s all-female guides. Our cowgirl pointed out an eagle’s nest, discussed ecology and even let us canter. Later, we toured area wineries--this is Sideways country, after all--and visited an exhibit about the Reagan Ranch next door. And we enjoyed sweets at the nearby Solvang Bakery.
Now we hear Alisal’s solved our annual Valentine’s Day puzzle: Folk-rock pioneer Jim Messina will be performing a private acoustic concert after dinner, with an overnight guest stay ($595 a couple). Sounds like a plan.
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, 1054 Alisal Rd., Solvang; 805-688-6411 or alisal.com
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