Top 7 Things to Do in Santa Maria, CA
Santa Maria, California is a beautiful place to live, with a cool Mediterranean climate that rarely gets down to freezing in the winter or over 80 in the summer.
A five and a half-hour drive from Calistoga in Napa Valley, you could think of Santa Maria as a sister site to California’s most well-known wine country, and its wines are certainly comparable. You could be forgiven if you think that all there is to do in Santa Maria is visit wineries because of the abundance of excellent ones here.
There are, of course, other great things to do here. We’ll start with the wineries and move on to other fun activities.
Visit Some Wineries
Here are some of the best-known wineries in Santa Maria. At the time of writing, most of the wineries were open but had altered seating arrangements to comply with COVID-19 safety precautions. Many also require reservations before visiting the tasting room and allow limited party sizes, so make sure to visit their websites before visiting.
Visit here for the wine tasting, then purchase a bottle and a gourmet snack basket and have a shaded seat on the picnic grounds to enjoy a drink and lunch. You’ll also get a stemless logo glass. Some of their wines include pinot noir, Sisquoc River red, chardonnay, and riesling. You can also order online and join their wine club.
Located on a 2,000-acre ranch, come here to get a tour of the grounds and the solar-powered winery, and, of course, to visit the tasting room. Visit the winery’s website, and you can make a private tasting reservation. The winery often hosts events for the general public and members. Wines include sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, and various pinot noirs.
This is a fun place to go wine tasting. Their tasting room is in a 1920s, renovated craftsman-style house. The grounds also include a garden with horseshoes, bocce ball courts, and a picnic area. Their most popular styles are pinot noir, chardonnay, and various sparkling wines.
This area is positively filled with grape crops, and the wines here are described as fruity, spicy, citrusy, and floral, and include various pinot noirs, chardonnays, and syrahs. When you go wine tasting here, make sure to purchase some of their gourmet cheese as well.
This beautiful winery is located among sycamores and oaks beside Tepusquet Creek. It’s run by Kenneth Volk, a well-known and popular winemaker in the area. In addition to enjoying a tasting here, you may consider joining their Cellar Door Club or ordering some wine via their website, which includes chardonnays, pinot noirs, cabernets, merlots, and more.
Cattle farmers Marvin and Paulette Teixeira opened this winery beside their cattle ranch in 2001. Tres Hermanas, or Three Sisters, has since grown into a popular area vineyard with merlots, Sangiovese, pinot noirs, chardonnays, Chenin blancs, and many more wines. Check their site to join the wine club, order wines, set up a tasting, and more.
Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is a 30-mile road you can drive as part of your wine tour. Just remember to not drive intoxicated! Wait for the wine to pass through you if you have much at each stop.
Along this trail, which stretches from Santa Maria to Los Olivos, you’ll find some of the aforementioned popular wineries, including Rancho Sisquoc Winery and Kenneth Volk Vineyards. Others include Firestone Vineyard, Zaca Mesa Winery, and the Andrew Murray Vineyards. In fact, 14 wineries are part of the trail.
There are two related events each year, Summer Sipping in June, and Christmas on the Trail in December, which adults 21 and over can take part in. However, you might have to wait until 2021 to partake in those events due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Pacific Conservatory Theater (PCPA)
Do you enjoy a good play or musical? PCPA has provided theater entertainment for the Santa Monica area for more than fifty years. They’re dedicated not only to community performances but to teaching the dramatic arts. They hold acting camps for all ages and provide internships in acting and stagecraft. Past shows have included The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and a lot more.
PCPA has adapted to the restrictions set in place due to COVID-19 and has converted its live events into virtual events. Check their Facebook page out to find links to their live streams.
Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum
Santa Maria has its own children’s science center, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. While the museum is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worth knowing about for when it’s able to safely open. This place is all about fun for families, though it’s designed for kids as it allows them to explore science in creative ways.
This 13,000 square-foot museum boasts many interactive exhibits, like the Creation Station where kids can create art projects, Moxie Cafe which teaches about healthful eating, and Discovery Tar Pits where kids can learn about digging for fossils.
Los Flores Ranch Park
This place is more than just a park. Los Flores Ranch Park is an educational center that teaches about farming, the environment, and conservation. Admission is cheap and kids under 15 get in for free. Heck, if you live in the city of Santa Maria you get in free with your ID verifying your address.
The park covers 1,778 acres and has hiking trails and guided tours. You can visit the farm animals, which include donkeys, goats, and horses. You can also walk, bike, or go horseback riding along the trails. Operating hours in the fall and winter are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and during the spring and summer from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Santa Maria Museum of Flight
The Santa Maria Museum of Flight, established in 1983, is full of fun exhibits covering the history of the aerospace and aeronautics industries in Santa Maria. You’ll discover photographs, documents, replica airplanes, and more. In the past, it has hosted the Thunder over the Valley Air Show, though this was sadly canceled in 2013 due to lack of funding. Airplane modeling.
Disney’s The Rocketeer was partially filmed here, and you’ll find an entire exhibit dedicated to the movie.
Santa Maria Valley Historical Society Museum
The Santa Maria Valley Historical Society Museum covers local history. Since 1974 this museum has preserved the history of the Santa Maria Valley for current and future generations. You can tour the museum, moving from one time period to the next, starting with the Chumash tribe and continuing to exhibits covering the 20th century. One room is dedicated to Capt. G. Allan Hancock, a local businessman for whom Allan Hancock College was named. It also includes a running SMV railroad, a signed letter to Santa Maria from President Abraham Lincoln, and a gift shop with books, calendars, and more.
Now, whether you’re visiting Santa Maria to see family or to enjoy the weather, or you’re a local, you know some excellent spots to visit. This truly is a gorgeous spot with a lot to offer.