San Marcos Pass

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San Marcos Pass is rife with buried treasure stories. One involved two robbers fleeing over the pass in 1888 with saddlebags stuffed with $50 gold pieces from a bank robbery in Ventura. When overtaken by a sheriff’s posse, one bandit was killed and the other captured – but their saddlebags were empty of loot. Lore has it the captured bandit had buried the gold “under a rock on the south side of the summit where two creeks meet”. Hundreds of treasure hunters have combed the area without locating the buried treasure.

From 1910 through 1920 when Santa Barbara was a movie-making center, and the Flying A and other studios used San Marcos Pass as a backdrop for Western movies. Today, San Marcos Pass is a major thoroughfare for visitors traveling to the Santa Ynez Valley, with its award winning wineries and visitor friendly towns that make up the valley. The Chumash Casino is another major draw that is accessible via Highway 101 or the San Marcos Pass.

One of the oldest buildings currently operating as a rustic, but romantic, bar and restaurant is the Cold Springs Tavern. Built as a Pony Express and Stage Coach stop on what used to be the original San Marcos Pass, the historic landmark consists of a modest jail, livery, log bar and restaurant. As it did in the late1800’s its gourmet dinner menu includes rabbit, venison and buffalo. On Sunday afternoons, the tri-tip sandwiches and live music make this a very popular stop for Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts and casual Sunday drivers alike.

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