What Does Vacation Look Like During Covid? A PEOPLE Producer Shares His Close-to-Home Itinerary

Socially distanced dining, reservations for the hotel pool and more of what made a California road trip in 2020 look a little different

Covid vacation gallery
Photo: Donnie Eichar
01 of 12

FINDING SKYVIEW

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

After 90 days of quarantine, New York Times best-selling author (Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass incident) and filmmaker Donnie Eichar, his wife, model Julia Ortiz and their 9-year-old son Dashiel, took to the road, driving 111 miles up the gorgeous central California coast to The Skyview, a 1950s-era California hotel in the heart of the Santa Ynez wine county.

02 of 12

FINDING SKYVIEW

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

With stay-at-home orders being lifted in the state and The Skyview's doors re-opening just days prior, they wanted to see what the American road trip might look and feel like in the time of Covid-19. Here's what they discovered...

03 of 12

A HILLTOP OASIS

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"This is not your ordinary roadside motel. Upon arrival, we marveled at the mid-century roots that had been perfectly restored from when it was a 1950s hotel. We checked in with the welcoming (Covid-19 masked) staff and immediately reserved our time slot for the pool (to ensure social distancing)."

04 of 12

A HILLTOP OASIS

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"After getting acquainted with the new required protocols we wandered through a garden of natural foliage and plopped ourselves down poolside for some immediate unwinding. We ordered food via text from the onsite restaurant Norman: Delicious steamed clams with pico de gallo, avocado toast with pickled red onion, heirloom tomatoes and pesto, washed down with some garden-to-glass cocktails and ice cold beers."

05 of 12

SANTA YNEZ WINE COUNTRY

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"The picturesque Santa Ynez valley is mainly comprised of vineyards and charming rustic towns like Ballard, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. There are a host of amazing restaurants, antique shops and wine tasting rooms to be explored."

06 of 12

PICO

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"Our first evening, we dined at PICO which found its home in the historic 19th-century General Store building of Los Alamos on Bell street. Will Henry, Pico's owner and co-winemaker of Lumen Wines, alongside chef John Wayne, prepared us delicious farm-to-table fare sourced from local growers. To observe social distancing, we sat at a private family table upstairs in their Lumen tasting room."

07 of 12

PICO

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"We had the delight of tasting our first 'Orange Wine' and were wowed by the chef's preparations, including miso-glazed black cod, pan-seared wild king salmon and a molten lava cake with Chantilly cream and dehydrated blood orange. After getting a tour of their grounds and meeting their chickens we strolled down a deserted Bell street lit by the setting sun."

08 of 12

THE STRANGE FAMILY

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"The next day we ventured to Santa Rita hills in Ballard canyon to pay a visit to our friend Shamra Strange at Strange Family Vineyards. Shamra and her husband Brian were able to take this vineyard — once considered un-revivable — and bring it back to life."

09 of 12

THE STRANGE FAMILY

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"We tasted a delicious selection of organic wines from their new run and took a tour of the property. Their commitment to sustainable organic farming can be tasted and appreciated in every sip. An afternoon well spent. Be sure to check out their tasting room at the Malibu Lumberyard in Malibu, CA."

10 of 12

SY KITCHEN

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"After an afternoon of wandering around the wine country and taking in the landscapes, we met with the lively SY Kitchen in Santa Ynez. A rustic Italian-style farm-to-table restaurant Skyview had recommended. Woodfired pizza, margaritas, and a casual at-home family vibe hit the spot ending with a chocolate Mascarpone banana split Dash still talks about to this day."

11 of 12

BACK ON TOP

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"Back at Skyview, we settled in to enjoy what the motel had to offer: a picnic breakfast in bed, a bike ride into town and a quiet poolside hang curled up with a good book (The Overstory by Richard Powers for Julia, and Pax by Sara Penny Packer for Dash). At the end of the day, we made s'mores and new friends by the campfire under a big starry sky."

12 of 12

OUR LASTING IMPRESSION

Covid vacation gallery
Donnie Eichar

"It was hard to say goodbye to our oasis on the hill and head back to reality. It was the perfect three days getaway to relax, explore, reconnect, reboot and renew. A big thank you to the staff of Skyview for making our experience feel safe in this new uncharted era of travel in the time of Covid-19."

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