Lompoc is a popular getaway destination for wine lovers, history buffs and art enthusiasts. You can take a drive along the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail to uncover some of the best locally made wines or join a 246 Wine Tour and leave the driving to your guide. Other Lompoc attractions include historic sites, the Lompoc Murals, a wild horse sanctuary and even a missile and satellite launch facility.
1.La Purisima Mission State Historic Park
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Come and learn all about everyday life in the 1800’s at the beautifully restored La Purisima Mission State Historic Park. The mission was founded in 1787 to serve the Chumash people and some Spanish settlers and in its heyday the inhabitants herded many thousands of cattle and sheep. A visit to the mission will give you the chance to learn all about this part of California’s heritage as you explore the mission on either a guided or self-guided tour. If you visit during one of the mission’s special Living History events you will see costumed guides demonstrating old skills like candle and soap making, spinning, weaving and leather work. The 2000 acre estate has a modern Visitor’s Center and over 25 miles of hiking trails.
La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, 2295 Purisima Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-733-3713
2.Jalama Beach County Park
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Conveniently located about 45 minutes from Lompoc and an hour from Santa Barbara, the Jalama Beach County Park is a secluded beach park which offers numerous facilities for day trippers or vacationers. People come to the park to enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing, whale-watching and spectacular coastal views. (There are lifeguards on duty in summer but due to the rough surf you swim at your own risk). You can pack a picnic to enjoy at the picnic area or bring your tent or RV and spend a few days soaking up the California sun. The park has a well-stocked convenience store/grill and you can book a campsite or self-catering cabin in advance.
Jalama Beach County Park, 9999 Jalama Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-568-2460
3.Ocean Beach Park
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You will find Ocean Beach Park at the mouth of the Santa Ynez River, where it forms part of the Vandenberg State Marine Preserve. At the river mouth there is an estuary lagoon which attracts many birds and birding enthusiasts, but the bad news is that the entire beach park is closed to the public from March to September to protect Snowy Plover breeding sites. If you do plan a winter visit you will find restrooms, a picnic area with grills and a good beach for walking and beachcombing. Surfers should think twice before venturing into the ocean here - there have been two fatal shark attacks on this beach and all swimming is at your own risk.
Ocean Beach Park, Ocean Park Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436
4.Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve
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Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts can visit one of the last remaining stands of maritime chaparral at the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve located close to Lompoc. The reserve covers over 5,000 acres between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Purisima Hills, where visitors can uncover a large variety of rare and unique coastal scrub species and the wildlife which have made the reserve their home. You are welcome to come and explore the trails on foot (leashed dogs are also welcome) – bring your binoculars and camera to be prepared for some good bird and other wildlife sightings. You may visit the reserve from sunrise to sunset daily.
Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, Burton Mesa Blvd, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 858-467-4201
5.Return to Freedom – American Wild Horse Sanctuary
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Most people have no idea that by the late 1970’s America’s free-ranging herds of wild horses and donkeys had been almost completely wiped out by man. On 1500 acres of land on California’s Central Coast Return to Freedom endeavors to provide a place where 400 wild horses and burros can live out their lives in a free and natural way. Besides providing a sanctuary for the often traumatized horses, Return to Freedom operates an education center where the public can learn more about how horses live in the wild and how to become activists on their behalf. You can help by joining a Sanctuary Tour (where you can to meet some of the four-legged ambassadors), offering your time as a volunteer or joining one of their Photographic Safaris.
Return to Freedom, 4115 Jalama Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-737-9246
6.Lompoc Wine Ghetto
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The Lompoc area has dozens of wineries to explore and in the case of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto you don’t even need to leave town to find a tasting room. If you can imagine a collection of small-batch wineries and tasting rooms located in the middle of an urban industrial complex, you will have a fair idea of what to expect at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. The artisan vintners who have set up shop in the ghetto are producing some sensational award-winning wines which you can taste at a few of the 20 boutique tasting rooms. Most are open from Thursdays to Sundays.
Lompoc Wine Ghetto, 200 North 9th Street, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-8937
7.246 Wine and Brew Tours
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Visitors to the Santa Barbara “Wine Country” should consider booking a 246 Wine Tour as part of their visit. Owner/driver Dennis and his team of guides know every nook and cranny, including some off-the-beaten-track wineries and brew houses and will ensure you have a memorable wine or beer tour along Highway 246. Some of the areas which can be visited include Sta. Rita Hills, The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and the Santa Ynez Valley. There are four different tours to choose from, which can include vineyard and cellar tours or even a personal wine-making opportunity for groups of four or more. Tasting fees, bottled water and a picnic lunch are included in all tours.
246 Wine and Brew Tours, 300 Crystal Circle, Lompoc, CA 93438, Phone: 805-717-1717
8.Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines
© Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines
Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines is located on a former horse ranch which owners Steve and Cathy Pepe have turned into a successful vineyard and winery which specializes in small-batch craft-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The prevailing weather patterns of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA results in smaller vines, smaller bunches and smaller, more intensely flavored berries which are expertly crafted into memorable Clos Pepe wines. The Clos Pepe Estate only conducts tours by prior arrangement - you can visit the estate by pre-booking a guided tour online or you can head to their tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto to taste or buy their limited-edition wines.
Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines, 4777 East Highway 246, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-2196
9.Babcock Winery and Vineyards
© Babcock Winery and Vineyards
Babcock Winery and Vineyards invite you to come and experience a wine-tasting with a difference in their eclectic Vineyard Tasting Room where you will be surrounded by an interesting mix of mid-century props and 70’s music. The winery produces a fine range of wines with an emphasis on micro-vineyard Pinot Noirs which showcase the remarkable Terrior of the Estate. Other varietals which you can try include some complex barrel-fermented Chardonnays as well as all the popular classics like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris. Winemaker Bryan Babcock is not shy to experiment and also produces his Identity Crisis wine, which is a white wine made from Syrah grapes.
Babcock Winery and Vineyards, 5175 E. Highway 246, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-736-1455
10.The Lompoc Valley Historical Society
© The Lompoc Valley Historical Society
You will find the Lompoc Valley Historical Society headquarters in the first two-story home built in Lompoc back in 1875. The historic home has been fully renovated and restored and is now home to furnishings and décor in keeping with its Victorian heritage. You can tour the home at your own pace before moving on to visit the Carriage House where buggies, saddles and everything required for a horse and carriage is displayed. The Blacksmith Shop includes displays of all the tools and equipment needed for a blacksmith to ply his trade. Last but not least you can visit the Museum Room which displays all the “modern” kitchen equipment used back in the day. Entry to the museum is free (but donations are gratefully accepted).
The Lompoc Valley Historical Society, 207 N. L Street, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-4626
© Sanford Winery
Sanford Winery was the first vineyard to plant Pinot Noir vines in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in 1971. Today the winery is owned and run by the Terlato family who also own premium vineyards in the Napa Valley. You can learn all about the vineyards and Sanford wines when you book one of their All-Terrain Vineyard Experience tours which take you out into the heart of the vineyards in a comfortable ATV accompanied by a knowledgeable wine educator. You will taste both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the vineyards where they were grown and enjoy an optional gourmet picnic. If you are short of time just pop into their tasting room (open daily from 10am to 4pm) to sample their latest wines.
Sanford Winery, 5010 Santa Rosa Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-5900
12.Foley Estates Vineyards and Winery
© Foley Estates Vineyards and Winery
Formerly a horse ranch called Rancho Santa Rosa, Foley Estates Vineyards boasts steep south-facing hillsides and the perfect limestone soils required to grow wonderful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. The vines were planted in the late 1990’s and the original horse stables were laboriously converted into the current winery which produced its first vintage in 2002. Since then Foley Estates has gone from strength to strength and invites visitors to come and learn about their world-class wines by visiting their tasting room, open daily from 10am to 5pm. You can enjoy either a standard 5-wine tasting or opt for the Cheese and Wine Pairing, which includes local artisanal cheeses and breads.
Foley Estates Vineyards and Winery, 6121 E. Highway 246, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-737-6222
13.The Murals of Lompoc
© The Murals of Lompoc
The Murals of Lompoc came about as a 1980’s initiative to revitalize Lompoc’s declining Old Town and stimulate more tourism. Today visitors and art enthusiasts can enjoy discovering over 30 major artworks (mainly in the Old Town), each of which tells the story of a part of the city’s history. In addition, you will also come across dozens of smaller murals dotted around the town; some of these have been privately added while others are the result of various art competitions. Although most of the larger murals were commissioned art works the town hosts regular events when the public are invited to come and help create a new city mural. You can download a mural map and set off to explore at your own pace.
The Murals of Lompoc, Old Town Lompoc
© Dierberg Vineyard
The Dierberg Vineyard is owned and operated by the combined Dierberg family who moved their winemaking operation from Missouri to the cool coastal Santa Barbara area in 1996 to fulfill their dream of producing perfect cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnays. The family established two vineyards - the Dierberg Vineyard and the Drum Canyon Vineyard, both of which are now producing marvelous grapes. You can come and taste their complex and delicious wines, all of which showcase their ideal growing conditions at their tasting room located at the Drum Canyon Vineyard. The tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5pm.
Dierberg Vineyard, 1280 Drum Canyon Rd, Sta. Rita Hills, CA 93436, Phone: 805-697-1466
15.Taste of Sta. Rita Hills
© Taste of Sta. Rita Hills
It is common knowledge among wine enthusiasts that the cool micro-climate and mineral-rich soils of the Sta. Rita Hills Appellation provide the perfect conditions for growing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. What many visitors do not realize is that many of the small boutique wineries only conduct tastings by reservation or are only open on the weekends, which means that visitors often miss some of the finest and rarest regional gems. Wine experts Antonio and Jeni Moretti noticed the gap in the market and set up their Taste of Sta. Rita Hills tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto where visitors can benefit from their extensive knowledge, join their Wine Club and taste and purchase some of the best wines in the region.
Taste of Sta. Rita Hills, 1595 East Chestnut Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-4400
© Lompoc Museum
The Lompoc Museum was established in 1969 in a former historic Carnegie Library Building where it protects and showcases a large collection of North American artifacts which shed light on the daily life and culture of the Chumash Indians, who formerly occupied the land for over 13,000 years. The artifacts you will see were collected from a wide terrain including beaches, canyons and forests and include some of the best examples of rock art in the world. You can also learn about daily life during the Mission and Rancho Periods as you tour the museum which is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Lompoc Museum, 200 S. “H” Street, CA 93436, Phone: 805-736-3888
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© Moretti Wines
Wine experts Antonio and Jeni Moretti have been helping wine enthusiasts learn more about wonderful wines at their Taste of Sta. Rita Hills Tasting Room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto for several years. Recently the couple has turned to wine-making themselves, and buy in excellent local grapes to make their own distinctive “Old World” style of wines which remind them of Italy and are perfect for enjoying with food. Their wines are produced in very small quantities and are only available for tasting (and food pairing) at their tasting room. You can look forward to tasting a delightful Moretti Prosecco (made in Italy) as well as a Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc made from locally sourced grapes.
Moretti Wines, 1595 East Chestnut Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-4400
18.Vandenberg Air Force Base
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Visitors to the Lompoc area who are interested in all things to do with space exploration, satellite launching and missile testing can join a tour of the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc. The tours are only offered once a month, on the third Tuesday at 1pm and you will need to book your place at least 15 days in advance (30 days if you are a non-U.S. citizen).
On the tour you will learn about the essential part played by the Vandenberg AFB in providing a launch and support area for satellite launches and missile testing but since this is a high-security facility you can expect certain parts of the base to be off-limits. Visit their website to see when the next launch is scheduled.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California
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Surf Beach forms part of the Vandenberg State Marine Preserve and although it is situated on the Vandenberg Air Force Base the beach is open to the public. You can access the beach from the parking area along West Ocean Avenue. Surf Beach is popular with surfers and body-boarders as well as walkers and bird watchers. At certain times of the year when there is a particularly low tide you can access some colorful sea caves on foot at the southern end of the beach. It is important to know that areas both to the north and south of Surf Beach are closed to the public from the beginning of March to the end of September to protect Snowy Plover nesting spots.
Surf Beach, West Ocean Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436
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© Ampelos Cellars
Ampelos Vineyards and Cellars was established in 1999 and set out to produce the finest wines possible, using minimally invasive hands-on farming methods. The vineyard was the first in the US to be certified Organic, Sustainable and Biodynamic and the owners believe that their non-invasive farming methods shine through every sip of each of their wines. You can decide for yourself when you visit their tasting room located in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. As you sip a glass or two of their wonderful natural wines you can learn about their sustainable business plan from one of the tasting room team.
Ampelos Cellars, 312 North Ninth Street, Lompoc, CA, Phone: 805-736-9957
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21.Artesia School Museum
© Artesia School Museum
Named for an Artesian well (which unfortunately dried up soon after the school was established), the Artesia School is one of the few remaining examples of a one-room country school. The school opened in 1876 and was originally located west of Lompoc where it provided education for the children of the local farmers. The historic old building was moved to its current location on the El Camino school property in 1972 and was completely renovated and restored by the Lompoc Historical Society. Today you can admire many of the original fixtures and furnishings which have been donated to the museum by some of the former pupils. You can visit the museum from Tuesday to Sunday between 1pm and 4pm.
Artesia School Museum, 115 W Chestnut Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-9910
© Fiddlehead Cellars
Winemaker Kathy Joseph established her Fiddlehead Cellars and vineyards in 1989 to fulfill her desire to produce wonderful Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines. She hoped to add old-world charm to these varietals by growing the vines in the best possible locations and treating the grapes with the utmost respect through the winemaking process. Kathy has more than succeeded in her mission and is widely recognized as a pioneering female winemaker in the Lompoc Valley. You can come and taste her delectable wines at her tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where her 5,000 annual cases of wine are made on site. The Tasting Room is open Friday to Sunday (or by appointment on weekdays).
Fiddlehead Cellars, 1597 E. Chestnut Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-7728
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© Transcendence Winery
Trancendence Winery is owned and operated by an enthusiastic husband and wife team of winemakers who are dedicated to showcasing cool-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines from the Santa Barbara region. Kenneth and Sara Gummere source their grapes from a handful of fine Santa Barbara county vineyards and their small-batch artisanal wines are produced at their winery in North Street Lompoc – you are welcome to visit the winery by appointment only, but their tasting room is open from Thursday to Sunday. If you enjoy their wines it makes good sense to join the Transcendence Winery Wine Club which offers members several perks and discounts.
Transcendence Winery, 300 North 12th Street, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-455-9589
24.Sissy’s Uptown Cafe
© Sissy’s Uptown Café
Sissy’s Uptown Café is a popular Lompoc eatery that consistently delivers great homemade meals and cakes. The café is family owned and operated – you will find sister and brother team Janan and Jon in the kitchen preparing freshly made lunches and dinners, while father Dave is responsible for the café’s delicious desserts and cakes. Mother Dorothy and son-in-law Steve will be in the front of shop to welcome you and ensure that you enjoy your meal. Their lunch menu includes a wide selection of satisfying soups and salads, quiches, and sandwiches which are joined by several popular entrees on the dinner menu. You can accompany your meal with a great bottle of wine from their extensive wine list which includes many local gems.
Sissy’s Uptown Café, 112 South I Street, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-735-4877
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25.La Botte Italian Restaurant
© La Botte Italian Restaurant
Family owned and operated, La Botte Italian Restaurant has been pleasing Lompoc palates since 1981 and has become something of a legend in the city. La Botte is the perfect place to meet friends for a delicious genuine Italian meal served in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. The menu features all your favorite Italian dishes including soups, salads and anti-pasta starters, followed by a wide selection of pastas, pizzas and entrees. Gluten-free options are available and there are daily posted specials making use of fresh seasonal ingredients. Remember to leave some space for one of their delectable desserts. The restaurant offers a wide selection of local and imported wines to enjoy alongside your meal and you can even order a delicious cake (in advance) if you are celebrating a special event.
La Botte Italian Restaurant, 812 North H Street, Lompoc, CA 93436, Phone: 805-736 8525 or 805-735-4400
25 Best Things to Do in Lompoc, California
- La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- Jalama Beach County Park, Photo: Courtesy of Samantha - Fotolia.com
- Ocean Beach Park, Photo: Courtesy of Maxim - Fotolia.com
- Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, Photo: Courtesy of Samantha - Fotolia.com
- Return to Freedom – American Wild Horse Sanctuary, Photo: Courtesy of taylon - Fotolia.com
- Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Photo: Courtesy of Maksim Shebeko - Fotolia.com
- 246 Wine and Brew Tours, Photo: Courtesy of gentelmenit - Fotolia.com
- Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines, Photo: Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines
- Babcock Winery and Vineyards, Photo: Babcock Winery and Vineyards
- The Lompoc Valley Historical Society, Photo: The Lompoc Valley Historical Society
- Sanford Winery, Photo: Sanford Winery
- Foley Estates Vineyards and Winery, Photo: Foley Estates Vineyards and Winery
- The Murals of Lompoc, Photo: The Murals of Lompoc
- Dierberg Vineyard, Photo: Dierberg Vineyard
- Taste of Sta. Rita Hills, Photo: Taste of Sta. Rita Hills
- Lompoc Museum, Photo: Lompoc Museum
- Moretti Wines, Photo: Moretti Wines
- Vandenberg Air Force Base, Photo: Courtesy of agatha1988 - Fotolia.com
- Surf Beach, Photo: Courtesy of allexxandarx - Fotolia.com
- Ampelos Cellars, Photo: Ampelos Cellars
- Artesia School Museum, Photo: Artesia School Museum
- Fiddlehead Cellars, Photo: Fiddlehead Cellars
- Transcendence Winery, Photo: Transcendence Winery
- Sissy’s Uptown Cafe, Photo: Sissy’s Uptown Café
- La Botte Italian Restaurant, Photo: La Botte Italian Restaurant
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com