HotelTonight – Santa Maria Hotels Nearby
Right in between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo lies Santa Maria, a sleepy little agricultural town that makes the perfect home base for exploring California's Central Coast. The town of Santa Maria is quaint and laidback, but it's the surroundings that really appeal to visitors. From sprawling vineyards to stunning California coastlines, Santa Maria has so much to offer both locals and visitors, which is why I decided to visit this town for one of my recent weekend getaways. I'm always in the mood for a trip that involves wine tasting and lazing at the beach, so Santa Maria seemed like the perfect option for my last-minute trip. To book my Santa Maria hotel, I simply pulled up my HotelTonight app and booked a great hotel near downtown Santa Maria in just a few quick minutes. Just like that, I was ready to head to the Central Coast for my sun-filled weekend escape.
Downtown Santa Maria feels like a quintessential small town. It boasts old-school charm and a strong community feel, so it's the perfect place to find great dining options – such as famous Santa Maria barbecue – and fun shopping. Locals may tell you there's not too much to do in town, but I found that to be untrue, likely because I was happy exploring every little street and park I came across. Of course, I had so many things on my to-do list for the weekend, so I didn't get to spend a ton of time downtown, but the time I spent eating and shopping downtown made me fall in love with this small town right away.
The Central Coast is all about the wine. There are over 30 tasting rooms in the Santa Maria Valley, so you'll definitely have plenty of wineries to choose from when you take a wine trip to Santa Maria. Obviously, I didn't have time to check out all the tasting rooms, so I asked some friendly locals for their recommendations. I ended up making it to four different tasting rooms, and each one was a unique experience. I would return to the Santa Maria Valley for the wine alone, because this was one of the best wine tasting experiences I've ever had.
I didn't want to spend all of my time in wine tasting rooms while in Santa Maria – I also wanted to explore some of the beautiful Central Coast scenery. So I made my way to the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes, a nature preserve that features a stunning beach and sand dunes over 550 feet high. This ecological preserve is not only beautiful, but it also offers lots to do, such as fishing, hiking, surfing and admiring the protected wildlife.
When I told friends that I was going to Santa Maria, they were adamant that I had to visit Solvang while in the Central Coast – and I sure am glad I listened to their advice. Solvang is a small town known for its Danish heritage and architecture, and when you walk through its streets you'll feel like you're walking through a European town, not a town in California. Solvang was one of the most unique stops on my trip, and it was definitely worth the short drive out of Santa Maria.
Just north of Santa Maria is arguably one of the best beach towns in all of California, Pismo Beach. You simply can't visit Santa Maria without making a quick stop in Pismo, whose long, wide stretches of beach never feel dirty or crowded. Pismo is known for its clam chowder, its charming beach town and its stunning ocean views, so it's impossible not to love. I spent an entire afternoon soaking up rays at Pismo Beach, and then wandered into town for my last meal on the Central Coast. And, of course, I chose the clam chowder, which I have to admit was the best clam chowder I've ever had. Between the tri-tip in Santa Maria and the clam chowder in Pismo, a trip to the Central Coast truly is a treat for your taste buds.
HotelTonight – Santa Maria Hotel and Explore the Central Coast
Many people have never even heard of Santa Maria, which is a shame, since it is a terrific destination if you want a taste of California's picturesque Central Coast. There's so much to do and see all over the Central Coast, and Santa Maria is the perfect home base to explore the surrounding regions. I packed a lot into my short weekend trip to Santa Maria, and it was easily one of my favorite weekends of the year. I'll definitely return to the Central Coast in the future (hopefully the very near future), and when I do I'll be sure to book my Santa Maria hotel through HotelTonight. Now that I have the HotelTonight app on my phone, I always know that I can find great deals on hotels at a moment's notice.