You’ve probably seen it on the 101, when you are headed up to San Francisco: “Stop Here for Anderson Split Pea Soup.” Whether you’ve actually stopped for said soup or made Buellton a place for the kids to stretch their legs, there’s so much more to this tiny town than meets the eye. In fact, we suggest a whole weekend. Scroll through for our itinerary for the best places to stay, eat and play ’cause Buellton is just a car ride away.

photo: Star Q. via Yelp

Where to Stay

The Sideways Inn
This hotel is literally the first thing you see when you get off the freeway in Buellton—mostly because it’s hard to miss the towering windmill turned reception area. The whole place has been remodeled and it’s evident they had families in mind when they re-designed. The ground floor rooms open up to a common courtyard with a view of the pool and spa area which makes these rooms feel more spacious than their upper-level rooms. It also gives the grown-ups a nearby place to escape to enjoy a glass of wine at night or a cup of coffee in the morning. Speaking of mornings, make sure to take advantage of the free continental breakfast, it includes those yummy Danish pastries that the area is known for.

The kids can walk around the property on spacious paths that are landscaped with drought-tolerant native California plants. In the evening, grab a s’mores kit from the lobby and roast the dessert over one of the many fire pits that are turned on right at dusk. Bonus: You can also use all the amenities of the Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground that is located next to the hotel. More on that below!

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Fun fact: Take a look at the photos in your room. They are on loan from the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society. Instant history lesson!

The Sideways Inn
114 E Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 688-8448
Online: www.sidewaysinn.com

photo: Flying Flags Resort & Campground via Yelp

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground
This overnight option is not your average RV Park. It’s more like a choose-your-own-adventure kind of stay where you can pick from a variety of lodgings like vintage Airstream trailers, themed cottages and cabins, lodges, yurts and tents. The latter two are the ultimate in glamping with air condition and heating and outdoor cooking stations. All guests receive full access to the on-site deli, convenience store, snack bar, shower facilities and laundry. Yes, this place has it all. Our vote is for the safari tents. It’s a unique experience that will have your family feeling like they’re on a wild adventure except with all the comforts of home.

Ready to play? There are two, year-round heated pools, a splash pad and park (that has a jungle gym your little monkeys will love). Bringing Fido? This place also has its own off-leash dog park.

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground
180 Ave Of The Flags
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 688-3716
Online: www.flyingflags.com

photo: Keith Y. via Yelp

Where to Eat

The Hitching Post II
This restaurant is a meat lover’s paradise and is a must when you stay in Buellton. It’s more than just dinner—it’s an experience. From the welcoming hosts to the welcomed menu alterations for picky eaters, it’s a raucous spot so a few fussy (or overly excited) kids won’t faze anyone. The menu is simple: pick your protein and sides and then sit back and wait to be served an amazing meal. The kids’ menu is the same just smaller portions. Tiny diners will love the unlimited baskets of fresh garlic bread and trays of tangy pickles, olives and carrot sticks that are brought to the table throughout the meal. Save room for dessert though! For some pre-meal entertainment, take the kids to watch the pit masters expertly man the grills as a roaring oak fire sears the food to perfection. Who’s hungry?

The Hitching Post II
406 East Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 888-0676
Online: www.hitchingpost2.com

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro
Who says you can’t enjoy a taste of nearby wine country while you have the kidlets in tow. Bottlest Winery Bar and Bistro will give you the best of both worlds—a family-friendly atmosphere and a wide selection of wines. They have “halfy-hour” from 3-6 p.m. (perfectly timed for those painfully early kid dinners) and over 50 wines by the glass to choose from. There is a limited kids menu but don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because they are willing to make it. Buttered pasta? Sure. Cheese pizza. You bet. The adult menu changes seasonally. Cheers!

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro
35 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 686-4742,
Online: www.bottlestbistro.com

photo: Susie W. Yelp

Patti Bakes
If you’re looking for something fast and easy, Patti Bakes is your best bet. Follow the smell of freshly baked bread and you’ll find one of the best sandwich shops in town. Every day they serve up soups, sandwiches, scones, muffins, salads and more. One warning: Once they sell out, they sell out. If you are dead set on checking out their cinnamon cranberry bread, come early, and come hungry. Some family favorites include the breakfast panini with eggs and bacon and the made-from-scratch soups.

Pro Tip: They are only open until noon on the weekends so plan ahead if you’re thinking of picking up accoutrements for a picnic.

Patti Bakes
240 E Hwy 246
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 686-9582
Online: www.pattibakes.com

photo: Christina Montoya Fiedler

What to Do

The Mendenhall Museum
The Mendenhall Museum is like the movie Cars come to life, all the neon lights reminded us of downtown Radiator Springs, and your kids will love it. It has one of the biggest collections of car-related antiques on the west coast including signs, classic cars and racing memorabilia. It’s a must for the car-obsessed kids. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re bound to see something new around every corner. Favorites included the gas pumps from the 1950s and the collection of license plates and bumper stickers from around the US. The owner has been known to start up any of the cars on the lot so get ready to hear the vroom of a 1950s Mustang!

The Mendenhall Museum
24 Zaca St.
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 689-2402
Online: www.mendenhallmuseum.com

photo: Christina Montoya Fiedler

OstrichLand USA
It’s not every day that you get up close and personal with the world’s largest bird. Buy a pan of food for $1 and walk out into the park to feed the fowl. Don’t worry, these guys are safely kept behind sturdy fences and you feed them through slots along the enclosure. Once you’ve had your fill of ostrich fun, head further into the park to visit the emus—the ostrich’s distant cousin. You’ll soon see why some kids call these guys modern day dinos. Don’t forget to spend some time in the gift shop for some kitschy ostrich fun before you leave. And if you’re feeling especially daring, you can buy ostrich jerky to snack on later.

OstrichLand USA
610 E Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427
Phone: (805) 686-9696
Online: www.ostrichlandusa.com

River View Park & Botanic Garden
When it’s time for kids to just be kids, head to River View Park and Botanic Gardens for scenic views of the Santa Ynez Valley, plus miles and miles of open land. There’s also a huge playground where the kids can run and climb America Ninja Warrior style. Follow the path from the playground to the Botanical Gardens where informational signage will guide you through a mix of interesting native plants and Chumash Indian artifact recreations.

River View Park & Botanic Garden
151 Sycamore Dr.
Buellton, CA 93427
Online: www.cityofbuellton.com

photo: Christina Montoya Fiedler

Worth the Drive

Zaca Mesa Winery
This place proves that there is such a thing as a kid-friendly winery, so much so, the staff practically welcomes you and your brood with open arms. Whether you snag a spot in the cozy tasting room or wander around outside, it’s a good time for everyone. And, depending on the time of year, they just might let you and your kids into the vineyard to try a few grapes right off the vine. Don’t miss the gigantic outdoor chess set with pawns, kings and queens that might be the same height as your tots. There are loads of picnic tables and outside food is totally okay but if you forgot to bring your own snacks, there are tons of munchies inside for sale.

Zaca Mesa Winery
6905 Foxen Canyon Rd.
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 688-9339
Online: www.zacamesa.com

 

Have you been to Buellton? Where are your favorite places to eat and play? Share them in the comments!

—Christina Montoya Fiedler