Ten Things To Love About Lompoc, California

By Chris King
Posted on Nov 01, 2019 @ 02:21 PM in Santa Barbara Estate Wine Tours

Driving up highway one into Lompoc for the very first time, I remember falling in love with the beautiful live oaks that covered the golden hills approaching Vandenberg AFB’s main gate, how beautifully the hills framed the cloud-lined sky.

When you first arrive in Lompoc, it’s obvious the town has a very rich history. The retired antique drive-in movie theater sign/ screen greets visitors as they transition from the famed highway one onto North H. Street. Driving down H street toward old-town Lompoc this morning as I prepared to write this blog post, I enjoyed the smiles from out of town visitors crossing over from the Holiday Inn to grab their morning coffee. I observed families laughing together as they pushed strollers down the sidewalk running their daily errands.

Lompoc isn’t just a commuter town, it’s a lush valley with wonderful people, a rich history, oh, and some of the finest wines in the world! But that’s not all that makes the “Valley of Arts and Flowers” special, let us to explore ten things to Love about this beautiful valley!

#1 Vandenberg Airforce Base

Named in honor of the late Gen Hoyt S. Vandenberg, second Chief of Staff of the USAF. The site was an Army base named Camp Cooke and then Cooke AFB, the name was changed in late 1958. Vandenberg AFB includes nearly a hundred thousand acres, including 35 miles of untouched coastline that spans the Pacific Ocean. Vandenberg AFB is also the west coast launch site for United Launch Alliance and SpaceX! Rocket launches can be seen year-round from several vantage points throughout Lompoc and beyond. Be sure to check for upcoming launches here, This schedule lists rocket and missile launches from Vandenberg AFB for the next several months. It is a composite of unclassified information approved for public release from government, industry, and other sources. This schedule is essentially accurate at the time of publication but may disagree with other sources. Details on military launches are withheld until they are approved for public release.

[Information provided by Explore Lompoc]

#2 La Purisima Mission

The La Purisima Mission was founded in 1787 and once covered nearly 500 square miles. The Mission was once bordered by the Santa Maria Riverbed in the North and the Gaviota coastline in the South. Once home to the Chumash people and Spanish settlers. The mission was known for hides and blankets, and inhabitants were known to herd up to 24,000 cattle and sheep. The Mission is awarded for becoming the most extensively restored Mission in the State and hosts well over 200,000 visitors a year for recreation and to explore natural California heritage. Enjoy a self-guided tour most days of the week or enjoy a re-creation of life during the 1820’s, when the residents engaged in weaving, pottery making, candle making, blacksmithing, livestock production and extensive leather-work. The nearly 2,000-acre park is also home to over 25 miles of hiking trails, a modern Visitors Center and Exhibit Hall, and livestock.

[Information provided by La Purisima Mission]

#3 Jalama Beach

Once a Chumash Indian settlement named “Halama”, 23.5 acres of privately-owned land was donated to the County of Santa Barbara from the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company in 1943, and thus the park was formed. Located one hour from downtown Santa Barbara, Jalama Beach is renowned for its purity and untouched coastline, Jalama beach is a reprieve from California’s bustling seaside parks and beaches and provides day-use picnic areas, tables, raised fire boxes and a small restaurant, grocery and sundries store for your convenience. Activities include camping, surfing, whale-watching, bird-watching, nature photography, and fishing the surf or rock outcroppings for perch, cabezon, kelp, bass or halibut. Many protected California native plants like sand verbena, saltbush, and sea rockets grow within park boundaries. Be sure to enjoy the Jalama Beach Store and Grill and experience the “World Famous Jalama Burger”, homemade clam chowder, or chili verde. Dogs are welcome with a nominal fee!

[Information provided by County of Santa Barbara]

#4 Dare 2 Dream Farms

Since 2009, this family owned farm has specialized in backyard chickens, handcrafted coops, free-range eggs, locally grown produce and special farm events. The farm was founded when owners Jeremy and Megan Raff decided to leave the corporate world to provide in-home care for their Grandfather. The Raff’s build their dream on four farming foundations: local, natural, sustainable, and humane. The farm is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. where visitors can enjoy backyard chicken classes, guided farm tours, dairy goat classes, food processing classes, farm dinners and even purchase free-range eggs, local produce and handcrafted chicken coops! For more information about Dare 2 Dream Farms visit their website below!

[Information provided by Dare 2 Dream Farms]

#5 Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary

Return to Freedom is a wild horse sanctuary dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity, and habitat of America’s wild horses and burros through sanctuary, education, advocacy, and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Return to Freedom depends on the kind and generous donations of visitors and people who care deeply about the nation’s equine heritage so that they may keep their wild horses and burros safe and cared for, as well as continue their invaluable work in protective legislation, conservation, and educational outreach. Herds of wild horses still roam free on public lands in thee west. However, private livestock grazing, and special interests compete for the forage, water, and other natural resources on this land, creating constant pressure on government land management agencies like the bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove wild horses from the range. Today, wild horses are being rounded up and removed at such an aggressive rate that by the end of 2016, there were twice as many wild horses living in captivity as the population that remains in the wild. Return to Freedom provides a haven for wild horses who have been removed from their home in the wild. More than 350 wild horses and burros have found a home at Return to Freedom.

[Information provided by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary]

#6 Big Art

In addition to its museums, art galleries and historical buildings, Lompoc is home to over forty murals and art installation throughout the city’s buildings, alley ways, and street corners which have transformed the city into a giant outdoor art gallery. As one of Lompoc’s top attractions, the murals depict scenes of a rich history highlighted by the flower industry, historic sites, ethnic diversity, its pristine coastline and much more. The majority of the murals are curated and preserved by the Lompoc Mural Society, a local not for profit agency dedicated to revitalizing historic old town and the valley’s economy through cultural tourism. Enjoy this complimentary mural map provided by the Lompoc Mural Society.

[Information provided by the Lompoc Mural Society and Explore Lompoc]

#7 Wine a Little

If you’ve visited Lompoc, you’ve undoubtedly experienced some form of coastal influence by way of the westerly winds that pull the marine layer up and over the town like a big comfy blanket. Stay in bed a little longer, the wineries don’t open until 10:30 a.m. or later anyhow! The coastal influence is what provides the cool growing climate for some of the best Pinot Noir in the new world. As the cool, moist air from the Pacific gets pulled back through the valley it provides for cool nights and early mornings which allow for more acid driving wines, versus its California colleague, Napa which relies on hot days and warm nights to provide more tonnage. Millions of years ago, the entire region was ocean floor. Layers of microscopic diatoms built up here over millions of years as glaciers grew and oceans receded, the earth was lifted leaving massive sand dunes along present day HWY 246. Vast deposits of diatomaceous earth were left throughout Sta Rita Hills. Soils throughout the growing region are well-draining, resulting in stressed out vines which leads to flavorful and concentrated fruit. This coupled with the cool air from the Pacific, provides the perfect elements for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visitors can enjoy the towns many tasting rooms located in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Lompoc City or throughout the Sta Rita Hills.

[Information provided by the Lompoc Wine Trail]

#8 La Purisima Golf Course

The La Purisima Golf Course was designed with a little help from golf course architect Robert Muir Graves, Kenneth Hume Hunter Jr. set out in 1986 to develop the finest pure test of golf he could imagine. It started with a great place – 209 acres of gently rolling, oak studded, ancient sand hills 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Mr. Hunter developed the course much like his other naturally acclaimed courses (Sandpiper Golf Course in Goleta and Hunter Ranch in Paso Robles), with no commercial development of housing surrounding the course land. His courses are built for pure golf. Golfers of all abilities come to test their game here. PGA pros, celebrities’ amateur hopefuls – all those in-the-know about California’s best courses. The course at La Purisima has twice received four and a half stars from readers of Golf Digest, including the 2004 poll (only famed Pebble Beach ranked higher), and was ranked Best in County of Greenskeeper.org.

[Information provided by The La Purisima Golf Course]

#9 Sky Diving

Take in unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean, hillsides, and vineyards, and feel the adrenaline rush of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s safe, don’t worry! Skydive Santa Barbara is fully recognized by the FAA and has operated daily for the last 15 years with an untarnished safety record. They’ve provided jumps for more than 300,000 thrill seekers since 1998. So, what are you waiting for?

[Information provided by Explore Lompoc and Skydive Santa Barbara]

#10 Flower Fields

Lompoc is renowned for being called the “Valley of Arts and Flowers”, and for good reason! Visitors can experience spectacular patches of colors from spring through fall in the farm fields of Lompoc Valley – Stock, Larkspur, Delphinium, Sweet Pea and Bells of Ireland along with other varieties are grown in abundance throughout the community by commercial flower growers. Where? The flower fields rotate every year, and are scattered throughout the Lompoc Valley. Some can be spotted west of Old Town Lompoc, along Central Avenue from Floradale Avenue, from Floradale Ave. to Union Sugar Ave. When? The flowers generally bloom from April through September. What? Stock, Larkspur, Delphinium, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bupleurum, and Bells of Ireland are some of the cut flower varieties grown in Lompoc. Sweet Peas are grown for seed.

Information provided by [Explore Lompoc]