Central California is one of California’s premiere wine regions, producing some of the best wine in the United States. A significant amount of Central California’s wine comes from Santa Barbara County, a wine region that was made famous by the movie Sideways. Buellton is a small town in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country, a great home base for exploring Santa Barbara wine country, and it's full of its own hidden gems.
One of Buellton’s greatest hidden gems is Mendenhall’s Museum of Gasoline Pumps and Petroliana. If you’ve ever seen the television show American Pickers, you can imagine the treasures to be found at Mendenhall’s. This collection of gas pumps, gas station signs, license plates, cars, and everything related to the petroleum industry was the life project of Jack Mendenhall, a lifetime Buellton resident. However, it was his son, Mark Mendenhall, who has organized and displayed it in a way that can be enjoyed by visitors. Even if you aren’t into cars and petroliana, the curated collection of 4,000 signs, 100 gas pumps, 37 neon signs, and 2,000 license plates make for a fascinating visit in between wine tasting.
Another hidden gem to enjoy while wine tasting is OstrichLand USA. Just a couple miles down the road in neighboring Solvang is an ostrich farm where visitors can feed ostriches and emus. Ostrich and emu food is provided in dustpans with feed bowls. You can feel these birds’ strength as they peck at the food, powered by their muscular necks.
Why stay in a standard hotel when you can go glamping?! Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground started as a premium campground for RV travelers, with outdoor fireplaces, a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a café. The hidden gem is the unique opportunity for travelers to enjoy glamorous camping, either in a luxurious safari tent, a vintage Airstream trailer, or a private cabin.
Dining and Treats
Buellton is famous for Pea Soup Andersen’s, a Buellton staple for over 90 years. However, there are a number of hidden gems in Buellton to visit to satisfy your appetite. Industrial Eats features a farm-to-table menu and two wood-burning ovens for pizza. For a scrumptious breakfast or lunch, visit Pattibakes, where Patti Wicks has been baking cakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and cookies for 20 years. Pattibakes also serves up breakfast sandwiches, soups, salads, and quiche. Another long-time favorite restaurant of Buellton is the family-owned Mother Hubbard’s Restaurant, which has been around for almost 40 years serving homemade eggs benedict, corned beef hash, and other homestyle favorites. Finally, for a little bit of sweet, visit Michele’s Tesora for the most delectable artisan candy made with organic peanut butter, organic brown rice crisps, and chocolate.
Wine and Spirits
Buellton is in the heart of wine country, so there are obviously a number of wineries to visit. One of those is Alma Rosa Winery, conveniently located next door to Industrial Eats so, if the restaurant is crowded, you can bring your food next door to Alma Rosa Winery and have a little wine with your meal. Another winery worth a visit is Standing Sun Wines, not just for the wine, but also for the entertainment, as the winery is also a music venue for live concerts. Wine, however, is not the only beverage of choice in Buellton. Brothers Spirits is a distillery making vodka, tegave (similar to tequila), limoncello, and whiskey.