Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang
My typical vacations center around me relaxing in the sun while my kids are splashing away in the pool. This trip was going to be completely different. We decided to spend a few days in Solvang at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort. I haven't been to Solvang since I was a kid so I was very excited to return to Solvang and visit the candy/pastry shops that I visited when I was little on a school field trip. A few Peachheaders had told me about Ostrich Land, so we stopped there on our way to Solvang. The girls loved feeding the ostriches. We then walked around Solvang on Copenhagen Street, and stopped to have lunch at the Solvang Restaurant where they make Aebleskivers served with raspberry jam and a dusting of powdered sugar. Yum!!! We finally arrived at Alisal Ranch (wasn't really sure where to turn into off of Alisal Road but luckily people in the neighborhood were able to direct me). It is a very cute place. All of the rooms are bungalows. We stopped at the barn to sign up for horseback riding and then stopped at the fitness room, where guest services is located, to make reservations for our other activities. After booking the ropes course and archery lessons, we started to head back to our room so that we could take a swim. However, we passed a basketball court right outside the fitness room so we stopped to shoot some hoops. They also have horseshoes, croquet, and shuffleboard available to play as well.
After shooting some hoops, we were definitely ready for the pool. The pool goes from 2 feet, up to 8 feet (which my kids love). There is an arts and crafts room next to the pool that is open all day. They also have a room with a pool table, ping pong, and foosball. Adjacent to the pool is a playground with a structure that the kids had fun playing on. After hanging at the pool for a bit we checked into our room.
We got a 1 bedroom suite that has a separate living room with 2 twin beds for the kids. The rooms do not have TV's or telephones and the only cell service on the property is verizon (it was the longest I had ever stayed off of my i phone). Luckily they have great blanketed wireless service that is complimentary.
Breakfast and dinner is included with your room package so we had dinner in the Ranch Room. The prime rib was very good, as well as the salad. Amber enjoyed her steak. After dinner they had a storyteller in the Library. He was very entertaining (but my kids were too anxious to play billiards instead) so we headed to the billiards room--but we couldn't stay long as we had a number of activities planned for the next day and needed to get some sleep.
Talk about a busy day on vacation... we got up at 7:00 in the morning so that we could be at breakfast at 7:30. They had a nice buffet set up (but you can also order from the menu as well) and you can even order from both. Breakfast was wonderful and after we finished eating we went to catch a ride to the ropes course.
They transported us to the ropes course on a hay ride (my girls loved this). Talk about thrill and excitement. My girls showed no fear climbing poles that were 23 - 25 feet high. I, on the other hand, was a completely different story. I climbed the first pole and then scaled along (very slowly I might add) along a wire while grabbing on to two other wires. My girls made it look so easy but I was really freaked out. I finally made it across and then came the fun part....the zip line. Jumping off was scary but once you are flying in the air, the feeling is incredible. My girls climbed the next pole which led to another wire that you walk across, but this time instead of holding onto the 2 wires, you are holding onto ropes hanging down. This was even harder than the first one. My kids had a tough time getting across (although they still had fun doing it) so I decided to pass on this one as I am not as coordinated as my kids. Next was the leap of faith where you climb another pole that is 25 feet high, stand on top of the round circular pole once you reach the top, and then jump off this very high pole and try to touch the ball that is in front of you. I was not planning on doing this one but somehow everyone convinced me and I did try it. I didn't touch the ball but I sure felt proud of myself for trying....I was shaking a bit afterwards. The girls continued to climb by doing the rock wall next... they both made it to the top (I made it about 1/3 of the way). Then they climbed the obstacle course... that was really hard and I did not even attempt it although they had fun making it to the top (and felt a real sense of accomplishment).
We came back to the property for lunch and then visited the barn to pet the animals and do some egg gathering. We discovered that chickens don't lay eggs when it is very hot and therefore there were no eggs to gather but we had fun petting the animals and holding the chickens... in fact, Jasmine actually got slapped by a chicken in the face (and I caught it on film... how lucky am I???). We then went to cool off in the pool for a bit and then headed to the Lake.
The lake is beautiful. We went on a motor boat that the girls were able to drive and they loved it. After our boat ride, they attempted to go fishing. John was nice enough to continually put the bait on the fishing pole for us (I wouldn't go near it) and Amber actually caught a very little fish (but she was thrilled nevertheless). Jasmine had more fun playing with the mill worms.
By the time we got back to the property it was dinner time so we quickly got cleaned up and went to dinner. My dinner once again was very good. After dinner they had family bingo night. It was a lot of fun playing and both Amber and I won... yipeee!!!!
Our last day at Alisal we started out our morning with the Western breakfast buffet horseback ride to the Adobe Camp. We rode our horses to the Adobe camp where they were grilling pancakes and making eggs on the outdoor grill while a cowboy sang songs. It was very cute. They have an adobe house that was pretty cool. Because my girls (okay myself included) freak out at bees, and bees like bacon, we decided to eat in the adobe house. The horseback ride was incredibly beautiful. The ranch has many different trails so we took a different one going and returning to the resort. On our ride we saw a bobcat, bald eagle, deer, and turkey vultures. The scenery was incredible; just check out the pictures I posted. After our ride we went to the barn to pet the animals again and this time the chickens had laid eggs so it was pretty cool seeing that.
We had an hour to hang out at the pool until our archery lesson. Yes, we had an archery lesson. I really wanted to do the air rifle shooting but my girls wanted to do archery. I have to tell you, I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed archery and how good I was as it (if I do say so myself). I actually hit the bullseye along with the animals that were 42 - 63 feet away (check out the pictures for proof).
Because I really wanted to do the rifle shooting, Dale, the instructor, said he could split the archery class up for us so we got our air rifle lesson in as well. That was really fun. It was fun hitting beer cans and other targets. Amber really enjoyed it too but Jasmine preferred the archery so she went back to shooting arrows. I had time for one last dip in the pool before we had to drive home.
On the way home we stopped for dinner at the Hitching Post (from the movie Sideways) which was very good and they have a kids' menu where the kids can order a grilled chicken or steak for $8.00. I was able to do wine tastings at our table as well. My dinner was wonderful and I even bought their "magic dust" seasoning because it was so good on my artichoke and steak. Just before hitting the freeway home we stopped at Andersen's Pea Soup for their world famous pea soup to take home for my husband... he thought it was the best pea soup he ever had.
Alisal Ranch has a number of scheduled activities throughout the day. You receive a schedule when you check in and then a new one is put in your room for the next day's activities every night when they do the turn down service. There are a number of different activities to choose from. You can check out their summer brochure to get an idea of all of your options. The resort also has a fitness room and a spa (however this was one of my few trips where I was so busy I didn't even have time to visit them).
Alisal Ranch was truly the most incredible, adventurous, family bonding vacation I have ever had....but now I need a vacation from my vacation:)