A Tourist at Home


Los Olivos, CA

Los Olivos, California



Recently my husband and I have been playing tourists very close to home.

Not quite sure what’s come over us, but it’s fun!

I guess these are the things you start to do when your children begin leading their own lives (the nerve)

Truth be told, we’d also become a little guilty of what I call “Disneyland Syndrome” – you know-living so close to something special that you end up taking it for granted?

 Like the person who tells you they live within the shadow of the Eiffel Tower but have never been to the top and you’re thinking “Whhaa??? Are you nuts?!”

Well, that was us.

So on a day when Santa Barbara was tucked beneath a heavy duvet of marine layer, off we went to Los Olivos, located aprox. 40 minutes north east of us.

In less than 25 minutes we were feeling the kiss of the sun as we crested the top of the mountains separating the ocean from Solvang, Santa Ynez, and Los Olivos…

home to some of the finest vineyards in California. World-class vineyards.

That’s right- there was WINE over there for God’s sake!


Wine country, CASlim Paley photo

and beautiful scenery, epically different than Santa Barbara’s.

Positively “Bonanza-esque”




Large animals with big horns



Slim Paley photo



Wine country, CA

Our first stop was  Harrison Clarke Wine where Roger Harrison (accompanied by sweet Rita above) gave us a most enjoyable and educational tour of his vineyards.

Roger is a man in full with a real passion for what he does.

What a pleasure to see.



Wine Country, Santa Barbara area, CASlim Paley photo

Really, the photos don’t even do it justice.



Slim Paley photo

Magic beans!




Roger’s lovely wife Hilarie led us through a fun tasting, and I must say, the couple were very gracious about our total lack of wine knowledge.

We just knew that all the wines tasted good to us.

I was reminded of one of my most important New Year resolutions; To learn something new every day.

Doing fairly well on that front 🙂



Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at “Sides” in the little town of Los Olivos.

Good thing a friend had told us of the restaurant.

As you can see, it exists quite happily with no signage.



Naturally I felt compelled to order sorbets to match the awnings. 

The one on the right was lemon verbena flavored, fabulous.


We ended this most excellent day by stopping by the Clairmont Lavender fields


fields of lavender, Los Olivos, CA

Which were not quite in full bloom  (NOW is the time)



 Meryl, the proud owner of the farm, shared a photo of her fields published.




Who knows what or where our next local adventure might be?

The infamous pea soup in Buellton??



Wine country of Santa Barbara

It’s a beautiful life Rita.


Comprehensive List of Santa Barbara County wines & vineyards



Happy Weekend Everyone!





  1. Beautiful photos, beautiful scenery, however you must be a wonderful photographer, all your photos are incredible. I’m sure have been asked this before, but can you tell me what camera you use?
    Thank you,
    Colleen Trainor

  2. Hey, that pea soup that pee wee and hap pee make is really good! Also, I’m with you about being a tourist in your own neighborhood. California is rich with places to explore and we love to take full advantage of it.

  3. Pretty great place to live! I just went with friends (Velvet and Linen) and my assistant to the most unusual places in Santa Ynez! St Francis Ranch; (omilord…..zebras and Watusi cattle)! and then to a wonderful sanctuary for horses…….where there are also Strasbourg geese; the biggest fancy chickens I have ever seen; the nicest people rescuing horses and other animals……..isn’t that the most beautiful land?


    I love seeing this post the next day!

  4. What are the odds…my husband, daughter and I went there this afternoon! We just returned home (our summer rental in montecito) after having a fabulous dinner at Root 246 in Solvang!

  5. Yes, I am lucky to live within 5 minutes of a winery and a lavender farm…….it is nice to take a drive on a sunny day (although it has been 108 here the last several days)!. Nice to go with a loved one on a drive anywhere–especially where the sun is shining……you are one lucky lady!!

  6. Yes! Like living in NYC and taking the free Staten Island Ferry, just cuz; or going to the top of the ESB, or seeing the Rockettes, or going to the Cloisters, or taking a bus all the way down 5th Avenue and then riding it all the way back uptown, or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brookyn to Manhattan, or sitting on top of the TKTS Booth in the middle of Times Square and watching the crowds go by, and then volunteering to take anyone’s picture; or going to the roof on top of the Met………. or shopping in your own closet……lately I’ve done it all and it’s delicious!
    Thanks, yet again, for sharing stimulating thoughts and gorgeous photos. And yes, new camera? Lens? Great!

    • I did the walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan too, with my older son on our previous trip to NY- really fun!

  7. Ok. Mr Paley really needs to speak to my Hubby.

    This is the exploration I want to do – near home. Where we have people around us on vacation! And we go to Costco, Gelson’s, the Vet, work, school, Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s. (eat, earn money, learn to earn money)

    Nothing more beautiful than those golden hills dotted with oaks and topped with the bluest sky!


  8. Actually, I really beg to differ Slim. The photos really do the beauty justice because they are absolutely amazing.

    How wonderful to have been so welcomed at the winery. That seems quite rare to me in comparison with the dog and pony shows of Napa and Sonoma. Well, how things used to be there actually…

    Looking forward to more such adventures. While my Sister was here it was lovely rediscovering the gorgeous scenery of Provence through her eyes…
    Bon Dimanche!

  9. Don’t know why but a smiling dog, viewed from behind, always elicits a warm feeling in me – so thanks for showing Rita. I now can start my day with a little inner glow. All the scenery is fab too. Is the lavender planted in a diamond pattern or is that some fortuitous optical illusion? Thanks, Slim…wishing you all the best!

  10. What a day, indeed! We are doing the same, although Houston, TX really is picture-less vs. picturesque! It’s all in the attitude, right?

  11. Hey doll I have done just exactly that travel in my own state.
    Try Ojai or Catalina, Pasadena oxoxoxR

  12. I love day tripping, it is the best, you see wonderful sights, experience new things, have great food and still have the comfort of going home to your own surroundings. It is the best of all worlds. Thank you for sharing your fun day trip,

  13. Thanks for the reminder to take advantage of where you live. A bit of a Development Area for me, so this was an excellent little push. Love the photos — sounds like it was a wonderful day. Don’t forget to keep at it! xx

  14. I am surprised we didn’t pass each other on the 150!
    We headed up to Santa Ynez for a tour of some wonderful Ranches with Penny Bianchi and our mutual friend, Lola … inspiring!
    Next time we will pop into Los Olivos.
    Thank you for the introduction to Clairmont Farms. I know I’m going to enjoy living closer to all of this beauty.


  15. We are so on the same track and how dare our kids leave the nest!! We live in San Diego and talk about taking things for granted! But this certainly inspires me to get up and visit those beautiful backhills wineries and that lavender field..oh my!

  16. Gorgeous! we always drive past a lavender farm on the way to a friend’s summer place and have not yet managed to stop. One day, Slim! Keep taking us on your adventures – I love coming along and seeing the world through your lens.

  17. Yay to being an adventurer!! And you are SO good about sharing. Thank you. (Btw, in case you didn’t know, you are a FABULOUS WRITER!!)

  18. Slim,
    I was recently thinking that there is so much in So. Cal. that we haven’t explored. What a great area you have shown us. It’s time to make some plans. Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. Oh Slim you are the very best travel agent!
    We’ve rolled by these areas on Amtrak but never stopped…
    I feel a road trip with the BMW coming on :-))

  20. Fabulous post. Loved your captures as always.
    We had just decided we would have a “Staycation” this year.
    Have no doubt wherever we choose will be a delight.
    Hope to meet the adorable “wine guard ” along the road.

  21. Thanks for sharing the beauty! That is the area where one of my favorite movies was filmed “Sideways”. I hope you spit your gum out before tasting! 🙂

  22. Don’t you love discovering beauty so close to home. These vineyards are incredible and your photography makes me feel as though I am right there with you. The last one takes my breath away!!

  23. God it’s dry ! the windmill must be pumping up bore water, it doesnt look like rain has fallen for a while. Love the carpetesque shot of the lavender.

  24. They are such AMAZING photos. The scenery is lovely and almost opposite to what we get here in Ireland – wet & overgrown green!!
    I hope you do more of this tourism at home – i love it! 🙂

  25. The great thing about doing this sort of thing and then posting it to your blog is that people not from your area, get to virtually visit a place they might otherwise not see. 🙂 Love the photos (especially the view that has the dog in it).

    Your photos are amazing.

  26. I tried doing a post on the importance of “being a tourist at home” a while ago – but with you living in such a wonderful area, your post does it way better justice!

  27. Beautiful pictures! I loved reading about you and your husband getting out and exploring now that your children are getting older too. Some of the most amazing things are right in front of your face, I constantly have to remind myself. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your explorations!

  28. Staycations are really in this year, especially in Vancouver, where you mine as well stay close and enjoy the few months of nice weather without having to travel!
    Thankfully, with Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and the border being so close there are lots of places to choose from for a quick staycation.

    I love that last photo, it’s fantastic!

  29. Absolutely beautiful! Makes me want to discover something amazing near my hometown. I love when people post of their travels. Allows people like me who can’t really travel much to see the world. Your photos are beautiful. I could almost smell the clean air sitting at my desk!

  30. Your photos are so beautiful- what kind of camera do you use? And I hope you don’t mind my asking, from one blogger to another, how do you include your website title on each of your photos? Loved, loved, loved perusing this post!

  31. Breathtaking scenery and beautifully taken photos. It’s always fun to be a tourist at home, because it really makes you discover new things just around the corner 🙂 Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  32. Well now, you have really brought some fantastic light to my day! Such beautiful photo’s and I along with everyone else just love “Rita”. Beatles ” Lovely Rita ” popped into my head when I saw her photo.
    What a great little adventure…..so close to home. So good that you do things together like this. I’m near Niagara Falls. Haven’t been there in years. Anyway, thanks for sharing such a great day!

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Ranu. Can you believe my husband had no idea what was so special or pretty about Switzerland, since he grew up there? He couldn’t understand why it’s the spot where most South Asians wish to go for their honeymoon.

      Great idea, Slim, to enjoy what is in your own backyard. The great thing is that you can do one such trip every week. And you do not have the exhaustion from a vacation away.

  33. I love the idea of touring your own part of the world. I’ve been wanting to do that more where I live. Great pics. Looks like a wonderful time.

  34. What a delightful post, and a delightful blog! Thanks for the great photos, you’ve got a keen eye! I was and am terribly drawn to the vineyard shots, as I’m personally on a new journey of my own towards becoming a sommelier. So it’s with some delicious envy that I follow your discoveries. May this inspire further exploration into the wonderful world of wine! All the best. Cheers. — Offer Kuban

  35. Sweetie,

    I honestly love what you do around here. I adore so many blogs and so many people in the blogland, but there’s something so profound on your pictures… you’re an enlightened person.

    Keep enjoying the beauty around you and thank you for sharing it with us.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  36. A beautiful location. It is amazing that people fail to appreciate or have knowledge of their own home locations. Same goes for Colchester where I live, a treasure chest of places to visit.

  37. Absolutely glorious photos! It is amazing how many incredible things can be so close to home and we just don’t seem to have the time to go and experience them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  38. Good for you guys! My boyfriend and I recently moved to Iowa and have been exploring random towns. It’s amazing the interesting things you can find/adventures you can have even in a location that is generally regarded as “boring.”

  39. Reading everyone’s posts of not exploring at home, (same here), reminds me that a Roman told me he had never visted St Peters!

  40. Thank you everyone so much for the lovely comments and kind words on my photos! These were all taken with my trusty little Leica D-Lux 5.
    I raise a glass of (local) vino to you all! 🙂

  41. We used to live in that area and would often take family and friends that were visiting to some of the same places you mentioned. Next time you venture to that area, you should try the Full of Life Flatbread restaurant in Los Alamos. They are only open Th-Sun but the pizzas are amazing and made only with fresh, local, in season ingredients. If you google full of life flatbread, you can get more info.

  42. I think most of us are like that, strangers in our own home. But it’s nice that you’re starting to go out there 😀 lovely photos.

  43. It’s so true! The things that are the closest to us are… of lower interest than the other side of the world! I had been lucky enough to visit all the touristy spots around my hometown on school trips when I was much, much younger. But where I live now, close to my uni – I have not seen much besides the college hill and the train station. Inspiring post!

  44. I love being a foreigner in my own city/state. Whenever I have the option, I almost always opt for somewhere/thing I have never been. We are so fortunate to live in California, one of my favorite places on Earth!

Would love to hear from you!