My first word was “olive”. My mom & dad would pop black olives on all my fingers and I would repeat “O-live. O-live. O-live.” After dressing my hands in olives for years they finally realized I was just trying to say “I love you”, and subsequently I now have an obsession with olives.
It is odd that with my ‘I Love Olives’ obsession I have never heard much about Los Olivos, in the Santa Ynez valley located 30 miles north-east of Santa Barbara. I am a big fan of local vacations and staycations so when my friends decided we should do a weekend there I was totally game.
Los Olivos began in 1880 on a 5 tree olive farm, and though they grow olives, they are most known for their vineyards. The quaint three block downtown is home to 24 tasting rooms including 10 vineyards that specialize in sparkling wine (think outdoors Austin TX vibe with music, picnic tables, and string lights).
Los Olivos is also located just 15 minutes from the Dutch town of Solvang and 5 miles south of Neverland Ranch. There is a ton of stuff to do besides eating cheese and drinking like a horse (like horseback riding, making cheese, hot air balloon adventures, and historic museums).
We stayed in the most charming cottage via airb&b and we were walking distance to the Main Street where an olive festival was happening. There is also a Fess Parker there if you want to be extra swanky. Make sure you check out the “bacon steak” at the Brothers Restaurant, Sides Hardware & Shoes (it is exactly what it sounds like).
If you want to make it a real adventure you can take the scenic Pacific Coast train from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and then an amtrak from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos which connects in Solvang. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway, girls’ retreat, or mother-daughter weekend. [You can go alone too, just that’s sad and I am sorry. Ok it’s not sad, it’s good to have alone time, I just don’t like it because then the voices in my head get too loud]
Something cheap, something out of LA, something short (because you all have different work schedules), something fun, and lets face it, the boat is the best part so who really cares about the destination?
Trust me when I say you will wind up on the same cruise as me- a 3 day Carnival Cruise out of Long Beach to Ensenada= $300.
Sailing on an 80’s Bally style Walmart of America= Priceless.
Parking was $19/day and easy, & check-in was quick and painless TIP-you can even bring your own bottles of champagne in with you
The alcohol package didn’t make sense for us and it was cheaper to splurge on bottles TIP- it was only $45 for champagne bottle service by the pool
The Grand Dining Room was very delicious and was all inclusive. There was also a Guy Fieri burger joint which was great for lunch by the pool
There is lots of karaoke to be sung (this is V important if you know me at all)
There is an 18 or older jacuzzi and bar area which weeded out the kiddies and the jacuzzi there was not as crowded
The public areas were very clean and well tended to
There’s music everywhere (live bands and shows) and a small casino which is where most of the people our age tended to be
Drink packages were upwards of $200 total per person (it’s per day regardless and your whole party HAS to opt in) and they charge you a full day even though you don’t arrive on the boat until 6pm the first day (TIP- skip the drink package and opt in to pre-arranged bottle service which is in your room upon check in- a fifth of Patron was $100 and lasted the whole trip for 3 girls).
The entertainment was just barely hitting the mark (this is only because I have been on fancy ships with some of the best entertainment I have ever seen, like above the quality of Cirque De Soleil & broadway shows- TIP- definitely attend the comedy shows)
The rooms were VERY small and dated- think airplane restroom- same size, same furnishings… ew
The pool was so crowded with children, I think I counted 14 kids in one jacuzzi- you won’t want to be in there during or after the kids leave for that matter… ew
Un-related to the quality of the ship, the water was very rough & if you are interested I can give yo my friends number so she can explain to you what happens when you mix a hangover with terrible sea-sickness- (TIP just wear those weird tight anti-nausea bracelets the whole cruise so you don’t even have to worry about rockin’ the boat)
If you book this trip as a quick getaway and don’t expect 5 Star experience, then you will have a blast. There was a point after we got over the shock of the terrible 80’s carpet and the fast food style main cafeteria where we all looked at each other and said “Just go with it.” I think we did about 5 outfit changes a day because it was just fun to walk around in nautical attire with our Patron margaritas and take pictures and eat endless food. The shore excursion we did in Ensenada was most likely barely legal as they had us kayaking 10 foot swells to get up close to the very rocky La Bufadora (and some of the participants had never kayaked before).
Moral of the story is that if you are booking with a good group of friends then you will love this trip. If you are looking for a classy vacation getaway with trendy clubs and fine dining, then splurge an extra $300 on a Celebrity Cruise. We had a great time, but 3 days was definitely long enough for us to appreciate that which we ended up calling the ‘Spirit Airlines of the Sea’.