Alisal Dude Ranch Horseback Riding Vacation, Solvang


cowboys and cowgirls at Alisal Dude Ranch in Solvang, California

Horseback riding vacation in Santa Ynez Valley

Whether you are a Hollywood celebrity like Anna Paquin, Barbra Streisand or Diane Keaton looking to escape the bright lights of Los Angeles, California or you simply want to get out of the fast lane for a moment, you’ll want to make tracks for the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang. This secluded central coast hideaway takes guests a step back in time. In fact, somewhere between 1782 and 1791 Governor Pedro Fages made the Alisal land grant to Jose Raimundo Carrillo as a reward for his participation in the historic Portola Trek of 1769 from San  Diego to San Francisco on horseback. The Alisal  is one of the four original land grants that inaugurated the land grant system of Spanish supremacy on the West Coast.

10,00 acre world of beauty awaits at Alisal Ranch

Translated from Spanish, “Alisal” means “a grove of sycamores.” Indeed, gigantic sycamore trees line both sides of the entrance to the guest ranch and resort.  On your left, several of 73 guest cottages are set back from the road. To your right, one hundred horses graze and relax on 10,000 acres of ranch land, ready to take you on an amazing horseback riding vacation.

Haddie Tal Townsend, Alisal guest ranch, horse, Alisal Lake.
Alisal Wrangler Haddie Tal leads guests on trail rides. Photo © Nancy D. Brown


Coastal hills horseback riding vacation in central California

Wrangler Haddie Tal considers Alisal Ranch her daily commute. She takes equestrians of every level on morning and afternoon horseback riding vacations. “I love riding on this ranch because I never get tired of the trails,” notes Tal. She adds that there is a horse for every riding ability from first time riders to accomplished equestrians who own horses.

Tal is like the pied piper of Alisal Ranch, leading wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls in every type of boot camp adventure for horse lovers.

All levels of riders join in a breakfast horseback riding vacation to the Old Adobe at Alisal Ranch
All levels of riders join in a breakfast horseback riding vacation to the Old Adobe at Alisal Ranch

More than horseback riding vacations at Alisal Dude Ranch

What I heard most often during my time at the ranch was that there is something for everyone at The Alisal.  This truth played out during my three day horseback riding vacation to the guest ranch. I had the opportunity to go on a breakfast ride Saturday morning. The guests were broken out into sub-sets based on riding ability. There was a father/son posse – you’ll recognize the young boys in the video; a grandmother and grandfather from Los Angeles on the beginner ride; a group of fun-spirited teenagers on the intermediate ride, and five advanced riders, accompanied by two Alisal wranglers, who loped and trotted our way past calves and deer to the Old Adobe for a pancake breakfast fit for a king.  Along with a hot line of pancakes, fresh off the griddle, there was bacon, ham, sausage, eggs, quesadillas, biscuits and gravy and plenty of fresh fruit, muffins, scones and cinnamon rolls.

  • Pony Rides – 5 and under
  • Minimum age for riding on the trail – 7
  • Beginner rides
  • Advanced rides
  • Intermediate rides
  • Group lessons
  • Private lessons
eggs benedict, hash brown potatoes, orange juice and coffee served in an Alisal Ranch coffee mug.
Eggs Benedict served by the fire at the ranch. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Ranch dining at the Alisal

A country-style breakfast is served a la carte or the buffet offers a selection of hot entrees, fresh fruit and home-baked breads. Dinner in the Ranch Room features  local ingredients on the daily menu. Breakfast and dinner are included in your stay at the Alisal and for lunch you have your choice of the Ranch’s three grills.

The Cowgirl Bootcamp, May 6-9, 2012, is an all-inclusive women’s retreat. Before exploring over 50 miles of trails, women wranglers train cowgirls in “Saddle Up” Western riding instruction. With the preliminaries out of the way, guests hit the trail for horseback riding over beautiful trails to Alisal Lake to learn archery, fishing and cowboy hat shaping. For the more experienced rider and horse enthusiast there is also an opportunity to try barrel racing in the arena. Experienced and novice riders alike will enjoy a breakfast ride to the historic Old Adobe.

Package Price ~

$2,550 based on double occupancy ~ $1,875 based on single occupancy
Additional per person and suite rates are available upon request.
Itinerary may vary due to weather or other circumstances.

equestrian travel writer Nancy D. Brown horseback riding at Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang, California
Equestrian Travel Writer Nancy Brown riding Tonto at Alisal Dude Ranch

Mother Daughter Cowgirl Bootcamp Package Description

The Mother-Daughter Cowgirl Bootcamp is a three-night, four-day all-inclusive retreat. It is an opportunity to strengthen bonds and build memories that will last a lifetime. After riding instruction from the Alisal’s women wranglers, experienced and novice riders alike will hit the trails daily on the 10,500 acre cattle ranch. Mother and Daughter will enjoy a breakfast ride to the Old Adobe. Wranglin’ cowgirls will also learn the fundamentals of barrel racing and roping at the Alisal’s authentic western rodeo arena.

Ranch activities in addition to horseback riding

In addition to horseback riding, Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort offers golf on two 18-hole championship courses, tennis, fishing and boating on the 100-acre private lake, swimming, biking, scenic walking trail, access to the  Fitness Center & Spa and plenty of kid-friendly activities.

After a day, weekend or multi-day boot camp horseback riding vacation, you’ll want to sign up for a relaxing Swedish massage at the spa.  My tired muscles thanked me for the 60 minute deep tissue massage – $130.  The Alisal Spa opened in 2008 and offers four treatment rooms. There is also a welcoming fireplace area to enjoy morning or afternoon coffee and tea.

Complimentary wireless high-speed internet access is available throughout the property.

Have you been on a horseback riding vacation in Solvang, California? What are your favorite things to do in Solvang, California?

Social Media tweeps may follow Alisal Ranch on Twitter and follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter, as well as @RidingHorseback on Twitter. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a member of Dude Ranchers Association and Ranch Web. Developed by Gene Kilgore, Ranch Web is an online ranch directory.

If You Go:
Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort (800) 4-ALISAL or (805) 688-6411

1054 Alisal Road, Solvang, California 93463

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip.  I was a guest of Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort.

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