Staff Report

Sometimes a hotel is simply a place to lay your head at night, and sometimes it’s a destination in its own right. The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort was recently named the Best Destination Resort by USA Today’s 10Best. 

“We are honored that The Alisal has been recognized as the top destination by this readers’ choice award as we celebrate the ranch’s 75th year,” said Kathleen Cochran, general manager of The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort. “Our mission has always been, and continues to be, to provide a luxe California ranch escape that celebrates the unique culture, history, food, and beauty of our home in the Santa Ynez Valley. We are thrilled to receive this recognition by our valued guests, and look forward to welcoming both new and returning visitors to The Alisal for a ranch getaway like no other,” 

The top 10 in the category Best Destination Resort were as follows:

1. The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang

2. Hidden Pond – Kennebunkport, Maine

3. Acqualina Resort & Residences – Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

4. Garden of the Gods Resort – Colorado Springs, Colorado

5. Primland – Meadows of Dan, Virginia

6. Omni Mount Washington Resort – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

7. Montage Palmetto Bluff – Bluffton, South Carolina

8. French Lick Resort – French Lick, Indiana

9. Barnsley Resort – Adairsville, Georgia

10. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel – Waimea, Hawaii

Each of these U.S. resorts were chosen by a panel of 10Best travel experts and are travel-worthy, complete with plush accommodations, world-class dining, relaxing spa treatments and a host of indoor and outdoor activities — a complete vacation in a single package, according to the article in USA Today. 

The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort’s origin dates to 1843, during which it was known as Rancho Nojoqui, and the property has been a working ranch ever since. It was renamed in 1868 as The Alisal, translating from the Chumash language to mean “Grove of the Sycamores.” 

The Alisal became the hotel is known as now in July 1946, when Charles Pete Jackson Jr. and his family opened the dude ranch for lodging. Since then, The Alisal has kept its Western-flair hospitality, and has been home to everything from celebrity weddings, championship cycling training and even Flying Ebony, the 1925 Kentucky Derby winner. The cattlemen’s quarters that once fed grub to cowboys is now a restaurant; deer can still be seen grazing, though these days it is often on The Alisal’s 18-hole golf courses; and horses and cattle roam grass-covered hills that have changed little since the days of the Spanish vaquero. 

To learn more about all the resorts listed visit