A very pleasant Southern California afternoon jaunt could begin in Santa Barbara, with an 8-mile blast up San Marcos Pass, which marks the southern and most adventurous stretch of California State Route 154. This pass will take you from close to sea level up to 2600 feet as you carve along the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains before being presented with a grand panorama of Santa Ynez Valley.
However, if you become too enchanted by the view, you’ll miss the Stagecoach Road exit on the left, at the top of the pass. From there, a short ride down through the woods will take you back in time with a visit to the Cold Spring Tavern. Enjoy something to eat, as well as the company of plenty of other resting riders on any pleasant weekend. For something quick to eat, check out their tri-tip steak sandwich.
Another advantage of taking this easy-to-miss exit is the view of Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge (see photo). The bridge won the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Most Beautiful Steel Bridge Award in 1963, when it was built.
Ahhhh, but don’t get tooooo relaxed. There is more to enjoy in this splendid Santa Ynez Valley….