Population: ca. 1,000
Don't blink or you might miss it! Located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Wine Country, vineyards and ranches surround the tiny town of Ballard, CA just off Alamo Pintado Road between Los Olivos and Santa Ynez. Only a few buildings make up this tiny hamlet, but those that do stand among the vines ooze old-time charm. Local kids have learned the three R's in Ballard's picturesque little red schoolhouse since 1893, and The Ballard Inn and Restaurant beckons guests with luxury accommodations in a storybook setting. Even if you're not staying the night, a stop at the inn is well worth it - chef-owner Budi Kazali cooks up some of the region's most delectable meals.
More than just a stop along the wine trails, Ballard is a jumping-off point for many North County adventures, including golf. Rancho San Marcos and the River Course at Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort are two of the region's most lauded courses and are within striking distance of the small town. There's also hiking and biking in the surrounding rolling hills as well as culinary and cultural attractions in neighboring Los Olivos and Solvang.