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The Alisal Guest Ranch

1054 Alisal Rd.
Solvang , CA , United States http://www.alisal.com/
(805) 688-6411

Open since 1946, this cattle ranch is just a half-hour north of Santa Barbara, in the dry, rolling wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley. The 73 cottages have wood-burning fireplaces, but no phones or TV's. Try to snag one with a porch.

COULD BE A CAREER PATH Kids can gather freshly laid eggs at the petting zoo and learn to groom a pony. The ranch has more than 100 horses and maintains 50 miles of trails, which wind among groves of oak and sycamore.

PREFER A TIN CUP TO A STIRRUP? There are two 18-hole golf courses (if you're lucky you'll spot Kevin Costner) as well as seven tennis courts, and fishing and boating on a 100-acre spring-fed lake.

EXCUSE TO BUY A STRING TIE Men must wear dinner jackets in the Ranch Room at night.

ANOTHER EXCUSE At the Wednesday rodeo, wranglers show off their calf-roping, quick-drawing, and barrel-racing expertise. Then there's a barbecue and peppy line dancing.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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