At Ostrich Land, visitors quickly learn that ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand—they'd much rather bury them in a bowl of food that you hold out in front of you. They're also not fond of waiting their turn, and at any given moment, you might have four beaks dipping into your supply. The experience is a far cry from throwing bread at ducks or pigeons. These birds are the world's largest: they can reach up to 9 feet in height and weigh 350 pounds. At top speed, they hit 45 miles per hour on their massive, two-toed feet.
Having been raised around people and trained to eat from outstretched bowls, the park's 50 ostriches and emus welcome spectators from their savannah-like enclosure. They're also celebrities in their own right, with bit roles in the film Sideways as well appearances in a Santa Maria Times video feature and a tongue-in-cheek homage in an episode of The Simpsons. Dispensing the animals' supper is only one way in which guests can get close—a stop inside the gift shop reveals shelves of ready-to-cook ostrich and emu eggs, ostrich feather dusters, and savory ostrich meat shipped in from a separate farm not affiliated with Ostrich Land. Also in stock are vials of emu oil, a substance with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that can soothe the skin.
Though Santa Barbara County is now home to nearly 100 wineries, there was a time when it wasn't obvious just how well suited the area was for making wine. It took the enterprising spirit of Leonard and Brooks Firestone—the son and grandson, respectively, of tire-industry titan Harvey S. Firestone—to establish the region's first vineyard in 1972. In the ensuing years, Santa Barbara's coastal climate and gravelly subsoils proved agreeable to producing Firestone's Bordeaux-influenced wines, though not to growing actual wine bottles on the vine like in Glass-in-the-Ground, Utah.
In 2007, vintner Bill Foley acquired the vineyard and made it the headquarters of his company's hospitality, event, and wine-club departments. Under Foley's direction, Firestone, like the brain during a thought-provoking traffic report, has been the center of a lot of activity. Visitors come to take tours of the vineyard and learn about indoor and outdoor wine production, to enjoy events such as gourmet Italian meals, and even to hold picnics overlooking the estate.
Louise's Kitchen Table came about by accident. Louise saw cooking comforting meals and house-baked desserts as simply a way to bring her friends together, but her aspirations stopped there. Over time, her friends began to rave about her cooking to their other friends, and soon Louise had strangers requesting catering services for business events and dinners. When she was unexpectedly laid off from her corporate job, she gained the courage to delve into the world of professional cooking. Today, Chef Louise lends her culinary expertise to personal-chef services, event catering, and food delivery for new mothers. When beckoned to cater an event, Louise handles the shopping, prep, cooking, and cleanup. Personal-chef services can cater to families with choosy eaters or special dietary needs, and meal delivery for new moms helps them settle into motherhood without having to prepare balanced meals for the whole family and any lingering storks.
Founded in 2010 by father-and-son team Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer and brewer A.J. Stoll, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has quickly proved its mettle by winning a series of medals, including five golds, from prestigious contests such as the Denver International Beer Competition. Visitors can peek at the brewery’s inner workings on tours, learning about the origins of such beers as Paradise Road Pilsner, Davy Brown Ale, and Hurricane Deck Double IPA. They can also view the towering stainless-steel tanks in which beer is born as a mash and undergoes an awkward adolescence as a root beer. Back in the tasting room, guests sit beneath a wood and sheet-metal awning as they sip samples of the alcohol alchemists' nine beers. The tasting room is often host to events, with live music on the weekends and quiz and darts nights on alternating Wednesdays.
If you're looking for a deep connection with nature, you could strap on hiking boots and head for the hills. Alternatively, you could head to Wildling Museum to catch glimpses of the wilderness as seen through the eyes of artists. Since opening in 2000, the museum has hosted more than 40 exhibitions such as the Santa Ynez River Watershed or Irish artist Patrick O?Hara?s Art of California Native Plants. Now located in modern, spacious quarters in Solvang, the museum also hosts workshops, lectures, and family events.
Trail And Mountain's owner inherited a love for the outdoors from his father, an avid hunter. Though the son never cared for hunting, he has followed that passion for nature for the rest of his life, honing wilderness navigation skills by hiking landscapes from the Catskill Mountains to the hills of North Carolina. Today, he marries this experience with certifications in first aid in a quest to introduce others to California's wilderness. During single- or multiple-day excursions in Santa Barbara County and beyond, he helms tours and helps coordinate activities for tourists ranging from day hikes to whale watching to paragliding.