Higuera Ranch San Luis Obispo is one of the most beautiful and hospitable venues on the Central Coast. It’s more than just a venue, it is a grandiose weekend experience and from this article, you’ll learn why.
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Location & History of Higuera Ranch Luis Obispo
Higuera Ranch is located in the north from the San Luis Obispo city up the 101 highway. It’s exactly 3 hours from L.A. and 3.5 hours from San Francisco. The area of San Luis Obispo is in itself very popular for couples from all over to come to say their vows, as well as a general tourist destination. San Luis Obispo weddings are hosted here for a long, long time and Higuera Ranch is one of the most favored venues.
It’s an 80 acres property far from houses and residential buildings. You will find green vines, olive groves, event sites for celebrations, and guest houses with indoor & outdoor facilities. The area is really very secluded and ideal for loud parties and destination weddings.
The story of Higuera Ranch is closely related to the history of the San Luis Obispo region. In the 1760s, Franciscan missionaries established here the mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa which would later become the SLO town. After 1834, most of its huge land holdings were broken up into land grants called ranchos. Since that time, the Higuera Ranch had constantly changed its owners.
Nowadays, two families own the ranch. When they bought it in 2014, the ranch was just a vineyard that had quite suffered from drought. They started doing vacation rentals out of the two houses, which were there already, and later totally transformed the property into the wedding venue.
So, at the ranch, you can enjoy a 3-night stay (it’s a minimum to book), the beautiful landscaping, and all the amenities of a good hotel.
Amenities of Higuera Luis Obispo
The Ranch requires a 3-night minimum stay during a weekend. This will allow you to use different areas of the property: for the rehearsal, preparation, ceremony & reception, plus after-party accommodations for 24 persons. This all can be hosted without ever reusing the same space. Probably, the only problem you can have here is debating where to recite your vows vs where to dance the night away 🙂
- numerous event spaces,
- the whole outdoor area for your photography,
- 2 homes for 24 guests and a honeymoon suite,
- tables, chairs to seat 200 guests,
- additional decor items including bistro lighting,
- ranch manager and security.
Catering service is not included in the Higuera Ranch wedding cost. The venue may provide the optional vendor list if needed.
Noise restriction and curfew are probably the nicest things you’ll get. I mean that there are literally no noise restrictions or curfew and you can celebrate all night long. Moreover, you can bring your dog, the venue is dog friendly (with an additional fee), as well as kid-friendly.
Events Spaces of Higuera Ranch
The event spaces at Higuera Ranch host not only wedding celebrations but also any additional events (rehearsal dinner, Sunday brunch, etc). The Ranch offers:
- Rustic Barn with a capacity of 200, for rehearsal dinners and receptions,
- Red Tasting Room or Red Barn for wine tastings and dinners,
- Main House, a two-story building for welcome parties, accommodations and Sunday brunches,
- Olive Grove & Higuera tree spots for outdoor ceremonies/ receptions (max capacity is also 200).
The general idea of the venue is to host not only newlyweds but also their guests traveling from far away so that the couple could spend the most amount of time with them as possible. The guests will be not only perfectly accommodated, but they’ll have the most fun because every part of the weekend will be located in a different area on the property.
To be exact, your Higuera weekend may look as following:
- on Friday evening/ night, you can organize a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, or BBQ next to the main house, on the lawn, or in the tasting room;
- on Saturday, your big day choose between the Barn and Olive Grove for your ceremony/ reception;
- on Sunday morning, you’ll have a post-wedding brunch at the main house with your guests.
Bridal & Groom’s Preparation Sites of Higuera San Luis Obispo
For you and your guests, you’ll book the Main House and Guest Home. There are a lot of facilities there to enjoy the pre-wedding evening: heated pool & spa, fitness room, water slide, bocce ball, BBQ space, etc. To prepare calmly for your big day in the morning, you’ll find everything for a nice stay & getting ready: a good space for the wedding party, A/C, bath/shower, TV, and WiFi.
The groom you’re seeing in the photos below got prepared in the Guest House half a mile down the ranch road, a bit away from the Main House. There is also an additional suite on the property: it’s a house with a king-size bed and all the facilities, standing a bit apart from other houses.
First Look & Couple Shots at Higuera Ranch
At the wedding where I was shooting, the groom came by car to the Main House where the bride got prepared. We made the First Look in front of the building because at that time it was quite sunny. Surely, there are other opportunities, for example, under the trees in the Olive Grove where the greenery will create enough shadow. We used this walkway later to snap a couple of portraits & small group shots before the ceremony.
You can choose to make your First Look in front of the rustic barn, it also creates enough shadow for photography. And another very good spot is the historic fig tree with the vineyard view. It’s an ideal place in case you have the mood & time (don’t forget about your wedding timeline) to explore the area and find the best spots for the photo session.
As for sunset shots, Higuera Ranch has something very attractive which not every venue will have: there are interesting outdoor decorations like vintage cars & other eye-catching items. They can serve as a very unusual backdrop. With the couple, we just walked at sunset through the area to discover such hidden nocks and peculiar spots. And certainly, we didn’t forget about sunset shots in the vineyard.
Wedding Party & Family Photos at Higuera Ranch
We took the most interesting wedding party & family pictures:
- in the Main House during bridal preparations and on the adjoining patio,
- under big trees of the Olive Grove: it’s a great place for big and small group shots,
- in front of the Tasting Room, colored in bright red,
- under the giant fig tree after the ceremony.
The cocktails were organized outdoors right next to the Rustic Barn, the place for the reception. So, the simple wooden walls of the Barn served us as a nice country backdrop.
Ceremony sites of Higuera San Luis Obispo
There are numerous possibilities for the ceremony at the ranch:
- under the old fig tree (Higuera tree) surrounded by vines, up to 200 guests;
- on the green lawn right next to the olive trees (Olive Grove), up to 200 persons as well;
- on the lawn by the Main House in case you don’t have many guests;
The couple from the photos below decided to make the ceremony under the famous Higuera fig tree. It’s not far away from the Main House, with the vineyard views from one side and the barn view from another.
The chairs can be placed differently onto the lawn: in classic rows, or for example in a wide U shape around the tree. The spot is very flexible concerning decor installations as well: some couples decorate the tree with foliage and flowers, some bring in a wedding arch or a white canopy. My couple adorned the tree & altar spot with wedding wreaths and some floral arrangements. It looked simple yet elegant.
The bride walked down the aisle between the vines to the altar spot. At that time of the year, they didn’t look quite bushy but we had a great view of rolling hills around so the guests enjoyed the perfect background.
You may also choose the Olive Grove for your ceremony: these two ceremony sites are not far from each other. The spot is ringed by olive trees and creates a more secluded impression though it can also host about 200 guests.
Reception sites of Higuera Ranch
We had the dinner and reception party indoors in the Rustic Barn. As far as I know, this barn was built in the 1800s and included a sunken bar and loft. The owners restored the original barn wood plus added bistro lighting. The place is really spacious and allows an easy setup for large celebrations: the ceiling is high, there is a balcony for a DJ as well as on the adjacent outdoor patio.
The spaces like the Barn of Higuera are some of the most difficult concerning lighting. Your photographer has to know how to deal with this. For example, we install the professional photo studio light around the room and the pictures we get turn out flawless.
The newlyweds from the photos below made their grand entrance by driving a vintage car. This presented us some memorable shots. The bride threw her bouquet standing on the balcony. And in the evening guests enjoyed the outdoor fire pit under the stars. So as you see, during the reception, there are lots of opportunities to take nice interesting pictures in the Barn and around. It’s really an excellent place for photography, your photos will be neither boring nor trivial.
Advantages of your Higuera Ranch Wedding
If you have decided on a ranch/barn/vineyard wedding, Higuera Ranch could be a very attractive choice on the West Coast.
The biggest reason why couples choose this venue is that their family & friends can stay on-site. You will stay at the ranch with them for the nonstop weekend celebration and have the convenience of not leaving for all of the events. The venue is very close to San Luis Obispo (only 5 minutes) and you can also accommodate your guests there and after to get Uber to and from town all weekend.
At the ranch, there are unlimited options as to where to have the ceremony, reception, cocktail hour, etc. You can embody any creative ideas and do anything with the space to make your Higuera Ranch wedding one to remember.
The ranch itself is in very good condition and there are a lot of vintage details to make it special. This creates plenty of opportunities for photography. Three guest houses on the property are clean, huge, & accommodating.
But probably the biggest perk is that there is no curfew or noise restrictions, so you can continue the party with friends after the wedding is over. Organize the BBQ or stay at the swimming pool: the options are really countless.
If you need to know about other venues where you can calmly spend the weekend with your family & friends, look at these:
Houdini Estate in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, on the Laurel Canyon Blvd, offers weekend accommodations on the property;
at Ponte Winery & Vineyard Inn of Temecula Wine Country, you can book overnight accommodations for your guests or a wedding night stay for you;
and Calamigos Guest Ranch in the Malibu Wine Country offers not only numerous wedding venues but also private cottages and bungalows for guests.