If you’re looking for your next getaway to be filled with rich history, elevated eating options and a range of outdoor activities, Santa Barbara is the place you’ve been waiting for. A California gem, Santa Barbara lies right along the central coast, providing a relaxing escape between mountains and sea. To help make your visit unforgettable, we’ve put together some of our favorite activities that we think highlight the best elements of this coastal hideaway.
Live Like a Local
Area 51 winery is a local favorite, but you may have to provide a secret password to enter. The owners are Australian and play on their “alien” status by creating this extraterrestrial themed winery, equipped with a classified tasting list and experimental grape blends. We’re not kidding when we say the wines here are out of this world! Another local hotspot brings you a taste of Spain in the form of exquisitely small plates. Their philosophy: Why order one meal when you can try a little bit of everything? That’s the allure of the Spanish tapa, and at Alcazar tapas bar, they make it an epicurean art form. Try their pintxo style Carne con champiñones –a sirloin tip marinated in Spanish sherry and mushrooms – muy delicioso!
Start your weekend strolling along Santa Barbara’s iconic Stearns Wharf, the oldest functioning wooden wharf in California, then mosey along the charming boutiques lining State Street to find that quirky souvenir you never knew you needed. When dusk hits, be sure to head over to the acclaimed farm-to-table dinner experience at Lark in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone neighborhood. Formerly a 1920’s fish market, they’ve honored the vintage feel of the space by incorporating antique train booths and industrial-style light fixtures, making sure that the food isn’t the only eye candy of the evening. After dinner, drive down to the West Wind Drive-In Theatre for a blast from the past feature film, classic candy included.
The epicenter of gourmet delights lies behind the doors of C’est Cheese. Don’t let the name fool you. In addition to over 120 different types of cheeses; they also stock a wide variety of cured meats, jams, and patés to make the perfect custom charcuterie or cheese board. If you love perusing markets as much as we do, head over to Lazy Acres Market and Bakery, where they specialize in homeopathic health products, organic fruits and veggies, sushi-grade fish, and daily-baked gluten-free cookies.
With Santa Barbara being located right on the coast, there are plenty of outdoor activities to take advantage of, both on land and by sea. Take an introductory sailing lesson with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center or snag a kayak and explore the Channel Islands, only a short ferry ride from Ventura. If land activities are more your thing, Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours has you covered with off-roading adventures through the scenic Santa Ynez Mountain Range, offering the best vantage points for that panorama snapshot.
Immerse Yourself in Spanish Charm
Santa Barbara’s Spanish colonial heritage is reflected in its beautiful architecture. At the Spanish Garden Inn, clay tiles, white stucco walls, and wooden embellishments transport you right into the small Andalucian villages of Spain. Wake up to a balcony view of their courtyard pool, take a walk through private gardens or enjoy the luxuries of in-room spa treatments that will make you wish you never had to leave. Fortunately, with Santa Barbara’s temperate climate you can visit all year, making it a great place to visit time and time again.