The Alisal is an all-inclusive dude ranch set on 10,000 acres just outside Santa Barbara, California — here’s what it was like taking a family vacation there during COVID-19

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The Alisal is an all-inclusive dude ranch set on 10,000 acres just outside Santa Barbara, California — here's what it was like taking a family vacation there during COVID-19

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Living in Los Angeles, my family and I have muddled through more than half a year of some of the toughest restrictions in the country. Because we have a young infant — a lockdown baby born in April — my husband and I have been especially conservative about recreation. However, after months of staying at home, we were on the hunt for a safe getaway.

Our conditions were many. We wanted someplace within easy driving distance from LA that was family-friendly and easy with a baby. It also needed to have excellent social distancing and rooms with private entrances and no crowded hotel corridors, per current expert advice. Ample outdoor offerings, plus al fresco dining, were also on the must-have list.  

Our winner: The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang, California.

Just 45 minutes outside Santa Barbara in Santa Ynez Valley, the all-inclusive dude ranch has been welcoming families and travelers for nearly 75 years. Set on 10,000 acres with a 100-acre lake, it has outdoor offerings galore and features cottages, studios, and suites, all with private entrances. 

It’s also the type of hotel where people often book their next stay while checking out. I myself first stayed at The Alisal two years ago and was eager to return. Plus, with the resort currently only booking 50% capacity and implementing strong new COVID-19 protocols, we had even more peace of mind.

Rates typically start around $700 per night, and the initial sticker shock can be off-putting. But, as an all-inclusive resort where the nightly rate includes breakfast, dinner, an alcohol package, and numerous activities from kid’s adventure excursions to yoga and tennis, what initially seems expensive is actually an excellent deal when you sit down to crunch the numbers. You can also occasionally find last-minute deals that start closer to $550 if you’re vigilant about checking the website. And, for an additional value play, the hotel offers many featured packages with bundles that can help bring the rates down.   

I stayed in a mid-tier Select Suite with the Alisal Golf Awaits package, which typically runs $710 per night based on double adult occupancy. While I paid a media rate of $350, I found the package to be an exceptional value and would gladly return at the full cost.  

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by The Alisal

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