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Santa Barbara & The Santa Ynez Valley

Join us to discover Santa Barbara County’s Spanish-Colonial influences, natural beauty and booming wine scene. You begin in Solvang, a town founded by Danish settlers, and make your way through the Santa Ynez valley to the coastal city of Santa Barbara.

  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 12 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 1 1/2 - 3 1/2 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Santa Barbara & The Santa Ynez Valley

What’s in a name? California’s Santa Barbara region is called “the American Riviera” for its spectacular coastline, acclaimed food and wine, cultural sophistication, and year-round Mediterranean climate. But it also boasts a quirky charm, outstanding cycling paths, and an easygoing vibe that are uniquely Californian. Our journey begins in Danish-inflected Solvang, continues through the Santa Ynez wine country, and rolls down to the blue Pacific, where we’ll spend three nights exploring Santa Barbara’s beaches, historic mission, and trend-setting downtown. What’s in a name? When your tour visits places named “Happy Canyon,” “Hope Ranch,” and “The Good Land,” you know you’re in for a blissful experience.

Cultural Highlights

  • Savor a picnic lunch and wine tasting at Bridlewood Estate Winery
  • Learn about the wines of the Central Coast during two included vineyard visits and tastings
  • Enjoy 5 nights in superb California inns, each with a stellar location affording easy access to restaurants, museums and galleries
  • Be wowed by views of the Pacific Coast and the sound of the surf while cycling
  • Explore the impressive Santa Barbara Mission, considered the best of all 21 California missions, during a private, docent-led visit
  • See Santa Barbara from the Pacific during a sunset wine and cheese sail
  • Explore lively Santa Barbara and its exceptional art and food scene
  • Ride VBT’s Fuji Gran Fondo 1.5 performance road bike, at no additional charge

What to Expect

This tour offers options on easier terrain with the occasional hill and the opportunity for some longer rides and moderate climbing. The majority of the rides are on quieter roads alongside vehicular traffic, some with marked bike lanes. About a quarter of the riding is on bike paths. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available throughout the trip.

Average Daily Mileage: 12 – 35 miles
Average Cycling Time: 1 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Santa Barbara
Sep 75°/60°  Oct 73°/56°  Nov 69°/50°

Average Precipitation (in.) – Santa Barbara
Sep .1  Oct 1.9  Nov 1.8

What’s Included:

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Land Only Single Supplement: $645

Itinerary & Map
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DAY 1: Arrive in Solvang / Warm-up Ride

Your tour begins at The Landsby, our boutique hotel in Solvang. Solvang has long been a little piece of Denmark in California. More recently, it’s taken cues from the surrounding vineyards, orchards and farmlands and is developing a reputation for food, wine and beer.

VBT will offer a shuttle from Santa Barbara Airport to The Landsby which will depart the airport at 1:30 p.m. for the 60-minute transfer to Solvang. If you are arriving after this shuttle departs or if your flight is delayed, you must make your own arrangements to reach The Landsby. At the Santa Barbara Airport, please meet the shuttle at the curb outside the door closest to baggage claim. The driver will be holding a VBT sign.

For guests driving to the tour’s starting point, parking is available at The Landsby for the duration of your stay in Solvang. You may need to move your car to a public lot in Solvang for the time that you are in Santa Barbara. Please checkin with your Trip Leaders, who will let you know where to leave your car.

Check-in at The Landsby, and ask the reception desk for your welcome package, full of information you might find useful on tour. After settling in, meet your Trip Leaders at 3:30 p.m. for a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a warm-up ride on a quiet road toward Nojoqui Falls. Tonight, enjoy a wine and cheese reception followed by dinner at your inn’s superb restaurant, Mad & Vin.

Hotel: The Landsby
Meals: D
Daily Options: 6 or 12 miles

DAY 2: Los Olivos / Ballard Canyon Road / Foxen Canyon Road

Riding from the inn, you are soon outside the village and among the vineyards, riding the super-scenic Ballard Canyon Road. Ballard Canyon is now a recognized American Viticulture Area (AVA), with Syrah being the most prominent variety cultivated. Your ride continues north on beautiful, meandering Foxen Canyon Road. This is the preeminent cycling road in the valley, and you will have the option to either cover some additional miles, or slow down and slip into one of the vineyards to learn about and taste the wines of this fertile valley.

Meet up with the rest of your group in tiny, charming Los Olivos where you’ll be treated to an included lunch that showcases local produce. After lunch you’ll ride back to Solvang, but on a different route, via the sleepy town of Ballard. Ballard’s red schoolhouse was built in 1882 and is still in operation today. Stop off at Rideau Vineyard before continuing on to your boutique hotel in Solvang. At Rideau, relax under the majestic Californian Oaks and sample the vineyard’s Rhone-style varietals such as Syrah and Grenache.

Tonight, dinner is on your own at one of Solvang’s eateries. You may be tempted to try a traditional Danish smorgasbord, or the famous pea soup served in a bread bowl. Your Trip Leaders will be happy to help you with recommendations and directions.

Hotel: The Landsby
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 12 or 24 miles

DAY 3: Santa Ynez / Happy Canyon / Winery picnic

After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll start your day with a ride from Solvang, heading east, and into Happy Canyon. This is the warmest grape growing area in the entire valley, and is home to horse ranch after horse ranch. The quiet beauty and the view of the San Rafael Mountain range rising in the distance make for a spectacular sight from the saddle!

Our late morning destination is Bridlewood Estate Winery. Riding up the long, tree-lined driveway, you’ll find that our Trip Leaders have found the ideal place, under the shade of the patio, or in the sunny courtyard, for a bountiful picnic lunch. We’ve included a wine tasting (of course!).

Continue riding to Solvang and board our shuttle for the 60-minute transfer to Santa Barbara.

Settle into the Harbor View Inn for the next three nights. Sitting across from Stearns Wharf and West Beach, the inn is well-appointed and ideally located for exploring the beautiful coastline and State Street’s shops and restaurants. You may wish to take a swim in the inn’s heated pool or relax in the Jacuzzi and watch the sunset.

Tonight, choose one of the town’s many excellent restaurants, all within a short walk, for dinner on your own.

Hotel: Harbor View Inn
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 22 or 35 miles

DAY 4: Hope Ranch / Goleta Beach State Park / Sunset Sail

After breakfast, start your day with a ride from the inn, following the coastline through the seaside residential area of Hope Ranch. Then you’ll ride through the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where bicycles outnumber automobiles (our kind of campus!).

During the months of November through February, Monarch butterflies migrate to Goleta, known as “The Good Land.” It’s possible to continue riding west to visit the Goleta Butterfly Grove, a city-operated reserve, for an up-close-and-personal visit with the butterflies. On your return route to the inn we stop for an oceanside picnic at Goleta Beach State Park.

In the late afternoon, you’ll walk across the street to the Santa Barbara Sailing Center and board a sailing catamaran to enjoy views of the harbor, Santa Barbara, and the mountains at sunset.

This evening, choose one of the town’s great restaurants for your dinner.

Hotel: Harbor View Inn
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 16 or 32 miles

DAY 5: Montecito / Andree Clark Bird Refuge / Carpinteria

You know that you’re in central California when there’s avocado in your omelet! Enjoy breakfast, perhaps while watching the morning start from the restaurant’s patio.

Head east on your bike this morning, by first riding through the peaceful Andree Clark Bird Refuge, a 42-acre saltwater marsh offering a potential peek at duck and heron. Continue alongside the beach before climbing inland to visit lovely Montecito. One of the most elegant communities in the U.S.(if not the world), this is where celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Tom Cruise to Kirk Douglas have luxurious homes nestled in the hills. From here you’ll join a new bike path and continue on to Summerland, a small beach community. Your final destination is Carpinteria State Beach, featuring 4000 feet of water frontage, much of it with gently sloping sands. You’ll return to Santa Barbara after lunch, with free time to explore. You may want to visit the impressive Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Built in 1929 after the earthquake of 1925, its four buildings cover an entire city block. The old Board of Supervisors room contains 6,700 square feet of murals depicting the county’s history. For great views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, visit El Mirador, the clock tower in the courthouse complex. Perhaps you’ll want to make use of the inn’s spa facilities, walk on the beach,  or visit the shops and eateries on Stearns Wharf. You can also explore the former warehouse district now known as the “Funk Zone,” a trendy warren of artists’ studios, restaurants, and galleries.

Tonight, rejoin the group for a farewell dinner in a private room at the inn.

Hotel: Harbor View Inn
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 15 or 30 miles

DAY 6: Santa Barbara Mission / Depart for home

After breakfast, checkout of the hotel and board a quick shuttle across town. Here you’ll tour the Santa Barbara Mission, the largest (and many say) most beautiful of all 21 of the California missions. It is the only mission continuously operated by the Franciscans since its founding in 1786. You will be impressed by the beautifully preserved art and architecture, which includes a graceful Moorish fountain and a Chumash Indian-style altar encrusted with abalone shells. Your docent guide will bring the mission’s history to life for you during a 60-minute guided visit.

On completion of your visit to the Mission, shuttle to the Santa Barbara Airport, where you’ll arrive at approximately 12 p.m. We recommend a flight out of Santa Barbara no earlier than 1:30 p.m. There are two restaurants for lunch at the airport, one prior to security and one after security.

If you parked your car at the start of the tour, the VBT van will transfer you back to Solvang. Bon voyage with wonderful memories of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley!

Meals: B
Daily Options: non-riding day

Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour Map

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Accommodations

Santa Barbara & The Santa Ynez Valley

Harbor View Inn

This resort style inn provides a location that is ideal for those wishing to experience the best that Santa Barbara has to offer; from the beautiful coastline to the charming shops and restaurants along State Street. Casual meets luxury where the white sands of West Beach and historic Stearns Wharf converge with the 4-diamond amenities of the Harbor View Inn.
Free WiFi Included

The Landsby

The newest and most innovative hotel in the Santa Ynez Valley. This stunning 41-room boutique hotel offers warm hospitality and refined, stylish accommodations. The Landsby features a clean contemporary design, with a hint of traditional Scandinavian aesthetic. The completely remodeled, bright and open guestrooms are finished with blonde woods, brushed brass accents, and elegant but comfortable hand-crafted furnishings complete with updated bathrooms, 47-inch flat-screen HDTVs, minibars, and stunning artwork commissioned from regional artists.
Free WiFi Included
Photos

  • Barrels of California Wine
  • Sweet Pea flowers at California Market
  • Wine picnics on your bike tour
  • Photo credit: Tenley Fohl
  • Wine Country Sunrise
  • Vineyard Wine Sampling
  • Wine Barrel Truck in California
  • Santa Barbara Scene
  • Beautiful California Bike Ways
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