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EcoTraveler: Alisal Guest Ranch

In Solvang, California nestled among old oaks and the sycamore grove, is the Alisal Guest Ranch, a working dude ranch opened to the public in 1946 for a little outdoor R&R. This historic property has played host to celebrities, presidents and local fans for decades. John F. Kennedy and Jackie Onassis even spent their honeymoon at the ranch, which backs up to the well-known Reagan property.

Although a historic property, the rustic guest ranch is surprisingly “green” – the property sees a lot of it’s guests return year after year (in fact to get a reservation is very difficult and requires a cancellation from a returning family in the summer). The charm of this place is really in what it lacks – the property doesn’t have any televisions or phones in the rooms. So, parents and kids are encouraged to make use of the activities and outdoor amenities – such as horseback riding, lake activities, the pool, volleyball courts and more.

The management’s intention to remain true to the original feel of the getaway has made it eco-friendly; the lack of electronics and air conditioning (the climate of the Solvang region is warm during the day but cool at night) helps conserve energy. Alisal also offers amazing organic beauty products from Pharmacopia, which is a Northern California company, in their new spa and fitness center that opened this summer and offers a wide array of relaxing treatments, including hot stone massages and detoxifying mud wraps.

For adults who want a little alone time together, the bar on property serves several local varietals – including those made famous by the cult movie, Sideways. The locals are well-versed and very proud of their growing region, which produces some of the best pinot noirs in the world. After a long day of playing with the kids, it’s a great way to unwind while listening to the local talent on guitar.

This property is ideal for travelers who enjoy outside activities and are looking to unplug for a little while.

Written by Courtney Carlisle Bolton

When she isn't writing or in the library, this tech savvy ecophile can usually be found glued to her mobile or macbook ogling the latest gadgets, scouting the newest designs, traveling or out enjoying the Colorado terrain.

Courtney holds two masters degrees in Psychology and Communications and received her BA from Vanderbilt University in Psychology and English. She recently relocated from Los Angeles to Denver, CO where she is pursuing her PhD in Family and Child Psychology.

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