Southern California close-up
Santa Barbara County wine country
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – About 20 miles beyond the red-tile roofs of downtown Santa Barbara, it begins: the rolling blond hills that go indecently green in spring, the massive estates and miniature horses, the sprawling vineyards and "Sideways" scenery, the dude ranch with 10,000 acres, the old stagecoach stop with boar on the menu and bikers in the parking lot. ...
Santa Barbara County's wine country has a lot to offer. The nine micro-itineraries that follow are a quick introduction for newcomers, part of our ongoing series of Southern California Close-Ups. (To see others, go to latimes.com/socalcloseups.)
About 13 miles before the northbound 101 Freeway bends inland at Gaviota Pass, El Capitan State Beach and its neighbors offer places to splash in the Pacific and sit around a campfire before the wine country begins in earnest. The state beach is a rugged stretch of sand-and-rock coastline, and it includes a campground (which, in September, was afflicted by a behind-schedule construction project). Nearby, just inland from the 101, is El Capitan Canyon (11560 Calle Real, Santa Barbara), a comfy, woodsy collection of cabins, fancy tents on wooden decks, "adventure yurts" and prices that are typically north of $150 a night. It's "glamping," some would say. There's also Ocean Mesa at El Capitan (100 El Capitan Terrace Lane, Santa Barbara), a more conventional campground (20 tent sites, 80 RV sites) that's also outfitted with a heated swimming pool and laundry room. At $40-$50 a night for a tent-camping spot, that's value.
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