Our first destination after leaving our home city? Buellton, California, a small city in just off of the 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara County in the Santa Ynez Valley. Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley is known for its many wineries. It is also known for the small Danish village of Solvang and Chumash Casino and Hotel.
Although we didn’t visit any wineries or Chumash, we have been there several times over the course of our time living in Southern California and we have a few favorite wineries of which Gainey is my favorite. And Chumash is good if you have a craving for playing cards or slot machines and can’t get to Vegas (which is a mere 5-6 hour drive from there). Caution though: the casion is VERY smoky during peak nights and if you have breathing issues, I don’t recommend it. The hotel is beautiful but expensive.
When reviewing RV Camping and RV Resorts, it’s important to make a couple of distinctions first. For example, “camping” is different from a “resort”. Camping implies nature, space with privacy and quiet. A resort is usually a recreational destination with a small space for a picnic table, a little grass or gravel or cement pad. The spaces are close together with just enough room for the picnic table and your trailier slides to extend. BUT there may also be a pool, a hot tub, tennis courts, community firepit, general store, small cafe and family-friendly activities.
With that in mind, Flying Flags is a Resort. It’s very clean and well-maintained. Since it was winter, we were expecting it to be pretty empty. Although it’s in California, it’s on the Central Coast, halfway between Northern and Southern Caifornia and a few hundred feet higher elevation than the coastal cities. This means colder, wetter weather in the winter than we’re used to so we weren’t sure how many people would be there.
Surprisingly, there were quite a few people there. The staff was friendly but not intrusive. We strolled the park a couple of times to see what they had to offer and it was really nice. They have cabins, large and small. A section of vintage trailers that you can rent, a Bocci Ball Court, swimming pool, hot tub, community gathering space, firepit and BBQ area.
Although the evenings were very cold, we ventured out to the hot tub and soaked for about an hour. AHHHHHH!!
We really enjoyed our stay there! Two thumbs up!
This was an unexpected find. I found it online and made a reservation. It’s also a private home so reservations are required. When we looked for directions, we were surprised to find that it was only a block away from the resort! A mere 5-minute walk. The entrance is a gate in an alley so it would be easy to miss.
Our tour guide was the granddaughter of Jack Mendenhall, You can read about him here. She is very knowledgeable, and proud, of her family legacy. Though I had never heard of him before, his collection of racing cars and petroliana, was amazing and huge!
This is another place I had always wanted to see. It’s visible from the highway on the way to Solvang. Not only do they have OSTRICHES, they also have EMUS! Access starts in the gift shop where they sell the usual souveneir trinkets as well ostrich and emu eggs. They’re beautiful… and huge.
Admission is $5, $2 for kids 12 and under. And for an extra $1, you can purchase a feed bowl and feed them. Note: when they’re busy, they limit the feed to ensure the birds aren’t overfed. The bowls are are attached to metal dustpans so the big guys can peck at the food, but not your arm!
Although you can hop on the 101 and be there is about 10 minutes, I recommend first seeing Solvang, then from the 246E/Mission Drive, make a right onto Alisal Road and follow it all the way to Nojoqui Falls Park. I promise you the drive is beautiful. And feel free to wander through the valley, if the desire strikes you. We did. So hard to believe this same rural land is in SoCal. Feels like another world.
The hike back along the creek is pretty easy and has a view of the creek the entire way. It had been raining quite a bit, like it always does in the winter, and it was actually taped off and closed to hikers. But I insisted on going anyway because 1) there were quite a few people disregarding the sign and 2) because sometimes I feel that rules like that are ridiculous. If I feel it’s too dangerous, I want to be the one to make that decision. It’s a hiking trail, not an amusement park. Anyway, we almost made it to the falls… I could see a glimpse of it in the distance! But as we approached the end, I turned around to make sure Erik was behind me and coming up the trail was a park ranger! Ugh. He was far enough away that I kept going at a faster pace. As he got closer, I decided to put on my best smile and be sweet thinking that maybe he would let us go just a few more yards so we could reach our destination. Sadly, he wasn’t in the mood for my sweetness and would not relent. So, knowing that we would probably not be back this way for a long time, I resentfully obeyed. During the walk back, the ranger left, I watched with envy as another group of “invaders” made their way to the forbidden path. It was going to be raining again soon so, reluctantly, we got back in the truck to go to The Palace.
I end this post as I began it: DO Buellton! From here, you can see as much country and nature as you can the city of Santa Barbara to the south and Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Vandenberg Air Force Base, San Luis Obispo to the north. And the coastline is gorgeous, too! You just can’t lose whichever direction you choose!