By Donna Polizzi
Ocean Vistas, Wine, and Special Sauce, Oh My!
Lompoc is one of the Central Coast’s forgotten cities. Many of the locals know it as a place to go wine tasting and skydiving, but little do people know that it’s one of the best places to watch a sunset, hike trails along the coast and is home to the Jalama Burger at Jalama Beach County Park.
This is the only beach open to the public between Gaviota State Park and Surf Beach, near Lompoc. This is due to the location being surrounded by Vandenberg Air Force Base and private property ranches. Jalama beach has a rich history dating back to the Chumash Indians and has seen many changes throughout the years. Jalama County Park started as an oil field that was then donated to Santa Barbara County in 1943.
To make your way to Jalama Beach, you will cruise Highway 1 and take Jalama Road for 14 miles, where you will catch unique glimpses of Lompoc’s coastal scenery around every twist of the road. As a matter of fact, this road has been featured in several automobile commercials, and Hollywood films.
Once you arrive at the beach, you will see the Jalama Beach Store & Grill, which has everything that you would need for a picnic. The entire right side of the shop becomes the restaurant that is home to the Jalama Burger. There’s a quaint little area to eat, with a view overlooking the ocean and is open seven days a week.
The magic about this place truly lies in its burger. Make it a point to arrive with an appetite! With a size you’ll never forget, crispy onion rings on the side and grandma’s special sauce, the Jalama Burger is definitely a must, when you visit Jalama Beach. But wait! You have to know the history behind this special little shop n’ grill. Opened in 1978, Don and Kathleen Eittreim first started making burgers at the store for visitors, but the couple probably would have never guessed that their burger sauce would be used on an infamous fast food chain burger.
Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonald’s, would frequent Jalama Burger and declared the Jalama Burger, one of the best burgers he had ever eaten! When he introduced himself to her as the owner of McDonald’s and ask about the recipe, with disbelief, Kathleen responded, “Yeah, and I’m Zsa Zsa Gabor”. This only added to the burger’s legend.
Explore Jalama Beach and you will discover majestic Cypress Trees lining the coast, tide pools and long stretches of clean, white sand. The beach is dog friendly, with a playground right past the shore. You can also park your RV and camp on this beautiful county park.
The Wine Ghetto in Lompoc is another fabulous place to visit. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a unique collection of some of the best wineries on the Central Coast. AVE is one of those gems, located just off Highway 246, in the back hills of Lompoc. While the tasting room is in Lompoc, the vineyard to AVE is in Paso Robles. The tasting room is lovely and allows you to sit and enjoy cheese, crackers and charcuterie, with your tasting. This tasting room does a great job of setting a laid back atmosphere for its guests. There is the patio with tables outside, which is a great spot to enjoy the view of the beautiful, surrounding mountain range.
The winemaker also makes various flavored olive oils, such as garlic, jalapeno, lemon, orange and a favorite, Tandoori Masala. These are great to dip your bread to complement your wine. Make AVE part of your wine venture, it is a worthy stop if you find yourself in the area!
(Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys 2 The Coast. Keys 2 The Coast is a free travel resource for Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. We share our favorite places to “Wine, Dine, and Explore.” Visit Keys2theCoast.Com or Facebook Keys2TheCoast.)