Get Away to La Lomita Ranch

Written by Teresa Bitler

July 12, 2023
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Surrounded by green hills and vineyards, La Lomita Ranch makes a great base for exploring Highway 1 and the Central Coast.

Although La Lomita Ranch is less than a 10-minute drive from San Luis County Regional Airport, it feels like a million miles away. Green hills surround the property, and the pond you can see from the rooms attracts waterfowl. Vineyards overlook the ranch and stretch further down Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo.

As I learned on a recent visit, whether you want an escape from the daily grind or a base to explore Highway 1, La Lomita Ranch is the perfect place to get away. Plus, it produces some excellent wines you can enjoy during your stay.

La Lomita Ranch is just a short drive from Highway 1.

La Lomita Ranch is just a short drive from Highway 1. Photo courtesy of Highway 1 Road Trip

La Lomita’s History

Thirty years ago, La Lomita Ranch was renowned for its Arabian horses. Buyers, including sheiks, came from around the world for horse sales. La Lomita became a horse boarding facility when the original owner sold it. Then, it fell into disrepair.

Enter the VanderHorst family. Becca says that after their daughter became ill, she and her husband Alan decided they wanted more for their children than their Texas dairy farm could offer. In 2011 the family purchased La Lomita Ranch and relocated to San Luis Obispo.

While the move offered her children a better future, Becca realized it was also a chance to restore La Lomita and be the stewards the property deserved. Her vision saw the horse stalls transformed into guest rooms, and the area where the horses once paraded during the bidding process turned into a courtyard.

Today, La Lomita Ranch near Highway 1 is a 240-acre ranch with a seven-room bed and breakfast, a three-bedroom Hacienda, a winery, and an event space.

La Lomita Ranch is a popular wedding venue and a romantic getaway for couples. Photo courtesy of Highway 1 Road Trip

Staying at La Lomita Ranch

As you pass through the gate from Orcutt Road, watch for the office and winery’s tasting room to the left, a short distance from the road. The gate remains open during the day, but staff will give you a code for returning after dark. At check-in, you’ll also receive a pin code for your room and instructions on where to park.

Bridal parties usually are the ones who rent the Hacienda, which Becca likens to more of an Airbnb experience. Like most guests, I stayed in the bed and breakfast portion, La Posada. Each room there occupies the footprint of two former horse stalls. Large windows bring light into the room, and a raised ceiling gives the room a spacious feeling.

Hand-carved furniture and Saltillo tile reflect the property’s Spanish colonial design. These stand in sharp contrast to the rooms’ white walls, but wool rugs, decorative pillows, and throws add pops of color. In the bathroom, hand-painted Talavera tiles play a similar role.

The hand-carved beds feature luxurious Italian linens at La Lomita.

The hand-carved beds feature luxurious Italian linens. Photo courtesy of Highway 1 Road Trip

For Becca, it was essential to add luxurious touches. Indulgent Italian bed linens cover the bed, and you’ll find high-end soap and lotion to pamper yourself with.

A European-style breakfast of fruit, cheese, cold cuts, and similar items is served every morning in the lounge. Open 24 hours a day, it has wine glasses and a bottle opener—plus a refrigerator, plates, and silverware—so you can enjoy a glass of wine by the firepits outside.

During your stay, you can hike the property’s trails, watch birds at the pond, pet the horses in the barn, and enjoy tasting La Lomita Wines’ various vintages.

La Lomita Wines

Besides the bed and breakfast, the VanderHorst family owns Harmony Valley Creamery, the one-block town of Harmony and La Lomita Wines. The winery uses the grapes grown on its 5.4-acre onsite vineyard and those sourced from other vineyards to produce Albariño, chardonnay, rosé, pinot noir, syrah, and grenache.

Taste La Lomita wines.

You can book a tasting of La Lomita Wines whether you’re a guest or not. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Becca says they are lucky to have winemaker Mikey Giugni, one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40, working with them. The region’s terroir comes through because he believes less is more when it comes to winemaking. I sampled several wines during a tasting, and he’s doing something right. The wines were all excellent.

You don’t have to stay at La Lomita to try La Lomita Wines. Book a tasting online at the winery’s website. Tastings are offered Wednesday through Sunday by appointment only and cost $35. If you’re staying at La Lomita, I recommend purchasing a bottle during your tasting, getting some glasses from the lounge, and enjoying a bottle at sunset or after dark around a firepit.

Things to Do Near La Lomita Ranch

Some of the area’s best wineries are minutes from La Lomita Ranch. Becca recommends Chamisal Vineyards, Kynsi Winery, and Baileyana. All three are open daily, but you need a reservation for a tasting at Kynsi Winery and some experiences at the other two.

Wineries aren’t the only thing to do in San Luis Obispo. In downtown, visit the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772. You can visit the church and museum, once the residential quarters of its Franciscan priests and friars, for free, although donations are encouraged.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Photo by Sundry Photography via iStock by Getty Images

Just a five-minute walk around the corner, you’ll find Bubblegum Alley, where countless wads of chewed gum adorn the alley walls. Many consider it a work of art in progress. Bring your gum and add it to the display.

Even More to Do in SLO

Highway 1 connects you to some of the Central Coast’s best destinations. Solvang, “The Danish Capital of America,” is just an hour south of San Luis Obispo. Enjoy one of the wineries near Santa Maria, halfway to Solvang, as part of your visit.

To the north on Highway 1, the coastal communities of Cayucos and Cambria beckon with sandy beaches and boutique shops. Stop at Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos for its signature sweet-and-salty cookie. Just outside Cambria, I recommend riding a Clydesdale at Covell’s Clydesdales. The views of the ocean from the ranch’s green hills are spectacular.

You can ride Clydesdale horses at Covell Clydesdale Ranch in Cambria near La Lomita.

You can ride Clydesdale horses at Covell Clydesdale Ranch in Cambria. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Hearst Castle, media magnate William Randolph Hearst’s sprawling estate, is just 45 minutes north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1. Book your tour early, especially if you want to take any tour other than the general one. After that, head across Highway 1 to Hearst Ranch Winery.

Wine lovers can also use La Lomita Ranch as a base to visit Paso Robles’ wineries. Paso Robles is just a half hour north on US 101.

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Know Before You Go to La Lomita Ranch

San Luis County Regional Airport—which is serviced by American Airlines, United, and Alaska Airlines—is the closest airport to La Lomita Ranch. By car, take US Highway 101. Whether you rent or drive your own car, having a vehicle allows you to explore the area.

Although the property has fewer visitors during the week, the rooms are usually full on the weekends. Be sure to book a room weeks or even months before your visit. Book even further in advance if you want to use the property for a wedding or other event.

Temperatures are moderate year-round along the coast.

Temperatures are moderate year-round along the coast. Photo by Teresa Bitler

Any time is a good time to visit the Central Coast in California. While temperatures average a high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, you can expect summer days to stay in the low 80s. San Luis Obispo doesn’t get snow.

Whenever you decide to go, La Lomita Ranch will reward you with a tranquil stay and a great glass of wine (if you want one). Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning your trip to La Lomita, the California Central Coast, or anywhere else in California.

Surrounded by green hills and vineyards, La Lomita Ranch makes a great base for exploring Highway 1 and the Central Coast. Read this #wanderwithwonder article to discover what makes La Lomita Ranch so special.

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Get Away to La Lomita Ranch

Written by Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Wine Enthusiast, and AAA publications. She’s also the author of two guidebooks (Great Escapes Arizona and Backroads and Byways of Indian Country) and a contributor to Fodors Arizona & The Grand Canyon. While Teresa would never miss a must-see attraction, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York City, her favorite travel experiences are the unexpected ones: KoolAid with a Hopi medicine man, lobster prepared by a local on a Belizean beach, or a ride in a World War II-era bomber.

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