Travel like a local.


Luffa Farm, BBQ Festival & Wine Trolley in Santa Maria Valley, California

Best things to do in Santa Maria Valley CA - Jennifer Harrison - Los Flores Park

Los Flores Park

I’m really excited to interview Jennifer Harrison, Tourism Director at the local Chamber of Commerce, about Santa Maria Valley, California. Jennifer’s tips for the best things to do in Santa Maria Valley are awesome because she’s been a part of the local community all of her life, and she loves sharing her tips about the area’s wineries, annual festivals and local businesses.

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Best things to do in Santa Maria Valley CA - Jennifer Harrison - Santa Maria Valley Rodeo

Santa Maria Valley Rodeo.

Santa Maria Valley, California

We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.

If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.

Best things to do in Santa Maria Valley CA - Jennifer Harrison - Oceano Dunes

Oceano Dunes.

Getting around Santa Maria Valley

The local airport is Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX), which is about a ten-minute drive to downtown. Use our Expedia tool below to find flight, hotel, and rental car options.

Jennifer says that, even if you’re staying downtown, it’s a good idea to rent a car in order to explore all that this region has to offer. For the best rental car offers, visit Avis, Budget, or Hertz.

If you don’t want to drive, Uber and Lyft are excellent ways to get around. Also, consider taking the Wine Trolley when visiting the local wineries. It operates on weekends from May to November and completes its loop every 65 minutes.

When you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.

Best things to do in Santa Maria Valley CA - Jennifer Harrison - Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight.

Places we talked about on the Santa Maria Valley, California podcast

Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Jennifer Harrison. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.

  • Red dots = best places to eat in Santa Maria Valley, California
  • Green dots = best things to do in Santa Maria Valley, California
  • Yellow dots = best places to stay in Santa Maria Valley, California

Who is Jennifer Harrison?

Jenn Harrison is truly what exemplifies a “hidden gem” in the tourism industry. She has been plugging away at it in a smaller DMO called Santa Maria Valley. Tucked away on the Central California Coast, Jenn represents a region that is being discovered by travelers from all over.

On top of it all, Jenn is a ton of fun. She’s always visiting the local businesses, and you’ll see a glass of Pinot Noir in her hand, experiencing the wine region as if she was a traveler herself. She is part of the local community, having been born and raised in Nipomo, California. She is a hometown gal who makes you feel right at home when you’re visiting.

Jennifer Harrison headshot

Here are a few articles about this region of Central California:

You can connect with Jennifer on her website and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

We Travel There - Santa Maria Valley California - Jennifer Harrison - podcast one sheet

Click here to download our one-page guide of Jennifer’s tips about the Santa Maria Valley.

Big thanks to today’s podcast partner – Bluffworks

This episode is brought to you, in part, by Bluffworks. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, it’s important to have clothes that make me look good AND feel great. I wear Bluffworks jeans, slacks, dress shirts, and blazers because they’re wrinkle-free and are designed for the modern traveler. And if they get dirty, a quick spin in the washing machine and they’re good as new.

Go to and use the promo code from the image below to save 10% off your order. There are many styles to fit your needs so you can stay wrinkle-free when you travel.

Hitching Post bbq

Chef cooking at the Hitching Post located near Santa Maria Valley in Casmalia, California.

Stay tuned for our next episode

Best things to do in Niigata Japan - Greg Goodmacher - Niigata Hot Spring by Peter Locke

Greg at the Niigata Hot Spring. Photo by Peter Locke.

Listen to the next episode when freelance writer Greg Goodmacher shares the best things to do in Niigata, Japan. In this episode, Greg and I talk about competing in the International Snowball Fight, exploring the Murakami Garden Exhibitions and visiting Sado Island. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.

What’s your favorite part of Santa Maria Valley? Send us a Tweet, let us know in the comment section below, or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!

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Related episodes

To learn more about destinations in California, check out some of our other episodes below:

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