Alisal: The Perfect California Getaway

Alisal: The Perfect California Getaway

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Rule # 1 of family travel. You never outgrow traveling with your family no matter how old the kids are. Sure, the destinations may change and the experiences you seek become more ambitious, but no matter what their ages, there’ll always be a good reason to get together and share quality time with each other. Thanks to COVID-19, this basic principal now seems more relevant than ever.

Given all the restrictions, lockdowns, and border closings, many parents with older children have been unable to see their children in person during most of 2020. I was one of them. Living in New York, I have a 23-year-old son who lives 3,000 miles away in L.A. and we had not seen each other since Christmas . . . of 2019! For someone who travels for a living, come this past fall, I was getting quite antsy to get on a plane, while my wife and I really wanted to visit our “baby” boy. The biggest issue for us was not flying. Flights were wide open, cheap, and in my opinion, quite safe if you follow all the protocol. The challenge was where to stay and what to do once we got there. After all, LA was a COVID hot spot and we didn’t want to spend all our time in his apartment or travelling around a city that was mostly closed for business.

One benefit of traveling with your kids when they’re older is that your interests start to align.
So instead of the usual outings to Disneyland, the beaches, or skateboard parks, we easily agreed on hiking, horseback riding and wine tasting. Yes, I said wine tasting! An upside of having the kids grow older, that’s for sure. So with masks in hand, we headed north up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) towards Santa Barbara to spend three days for some quality time just hanging out at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a property I heard a lot about but never visited myself.

Surrounded by California’s famed Santa Ynez Valley, we did our fair share of sampling the local wines both on and off the property. Like most ranch resorts out west, Alisal offers all-inclusive plans, allowing me to leave the wallet behind. This is particularly nice for someone whose kids have the habit of ordering whatever seems to have the highest number following the $ signs on the menu. And each night offered a different chef’s special, along with a set menu with a nice variety of dishes, uniquely designed for wine pairings. The nightly selection of desserts were a particular favorite, firmly reminding me that perhaps our baby boy might not be completely grown up just yet!

A welcome site for me personally were all the children running around the property. Some were there as part of the resort’s Alisal Academy, a remote learning program created to capitalize on the growing trend of families who are leaving home and taking up residency in vacation homes, hotel rooms, and family resorts like Alisal. This is a smart move all around as over the next three years, a majority of K-12 educators expect online learning and digital curriculum to get ever more-important, while certain elements of the traditional academic formula will fall by the wayside.So this very well might be a “fad” that sticks around.

After our nightly feasts, we took full advantage of some star-gazing before retiring to our newly refurbished cottage suite where we’d review the Ranch Daily bulletin to make a plan for the following day. The only downside to visiting Alisal during the pandemic was that they couldn’t offer the full complement of their usual activities and events. Although we didn’t have time this trip to play a round on one of their two championship golf courses or lace up for some tennis and even try Pickleball, we did manage to do a trail ride on horseback on a beautiful fall morning. The next day, my wife got up on a standup paddle- board for the first time on a glistening Alisal Lake. To make her debut on the SUP even more exciting, we witnessed an osprey and their resident bald eagle clash over some bluegill that inhabit the water.

We’ll also save the e-mountain bike rides, outdoor yoga classes and spa treatments for when we visit Alisal again, which we’re already talking about the next time we head to California to see our oldest son, which God willing, won’t be another year from now.

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Catherine Lengers Beyt

Hello! My name is Catherine Lengers Beyt and I am the owner of NHS Travel Enterprises LLC, one of our divisions NHS Voyages LLC; is a full service leisure travel company. We are based in The Woodlands, TX and have clients travel world wide with a great team. NHS Voyages LLC is a fully licensed […]

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