santa barbara, CA is on that list of one of my favorite places. It’s the perfect blend of SoCal meets NoCal. It’s cool, artsy, surfy, eco-minded, welcoming and has a lot of wine.
It’s about a 2 hour drive from LA. Take coastal route 1 (the 101) North for the most scenic route. Of course you have to get to LA first. From Boston, we flew Virgin to LAX for a long weekend. If you’re coming from the North, it’s a few hours drive from San Fran. If you’re doing the whole Coastal-Route-1-drive, this is a must.
what we did
Urban Wine Trail – This is quite possibly one of my favorite inventions. Basically, a bunch of downtown wineries got together and created a city ‘trail’. As they say, you can ‘sip your way through downtown Santa Barbara’. This is fact. You can walk into any one of the wineries and buy a ‘tasting’ which is essential a flight of wine (on average $10-$14 per flight, containing 4 tastes) If you tasted a match made in wine-heaven, you could buy a bottle or a case right then and there.
- Some of our favorites: Santa Barbara Winery, Area 5.1, Kunin Wines, Corks n’ Crowns all on Anacapa Street, and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. note: the wineries don’t serve food, remember to eat!
The Funk Zone – Yes, this is a real place and don’t be turned off by the name. It’s an area of downtown where galleries, hip eateries and cool stores have set up shop. The Urban Wine Trail is IN the Funk Zone. Wander and spend the afternoon.
Check out this map.
Run – or walk or bike and explore. Take the pedestrian path along the water. Start at Stearns Wharf, head North along the water. About a mile up, you’ll run into the SB Harbor, cool for boat-watching. Keep going another mile up to Shoreline Park (a green area with more paths). If you’re feeling more adventurous, rent any of the available water sports equipment along the harbor.
Stearns Wharf – A classic California pier, this is a tourist hot spot. There are souvenir shops, restaurants and a natural history museum. All of this is worth a stroll, but it’s a bit of a tourist trap, don’t eat there.
Santa Barbara Harbor – Again, just a mile up from Stearns Wharf. Visit the SB Maritime Museum for cool history and artifacts on the SB Channel and the Pacific. For a great view, walk past the museum and the yacht club out to Point Castillo, a seawall built to protect the harbor. See the hundreds of dreamy boats parked in the harbor and take in the ocean views.
where to eat
For Dinner: The LARK – You had me at the brussels sprouts. One of the best meals I’ve ever had! And I don’t say this often. The atmosphere was cool, service was great, it’s a super hot spot. Make a rez. 131 Anacapa St. 805-284-0370
For Lunch: Lucky Penny – OK so it’s owned by the Lark folks, but it’s also super good and more than just a cool name. They have wood-fired pizza and salads, beer and wine. It’s tiny, so everything is ‘to-go’. But…they a aplethora of outdoor seating and since it shares space w/ the Lark, their tables are open for the taking. Perfect. 127 Anacapa St. 805-284-0358
For Breakfast: Backyard Bowls – This place changed my life. I didn’t know quinoa could exist in breakfast form…but it CAN! Get the PB+J Quinoa or the Backyard Quinoa. It’s a hot bowl of hearty deliciousness and the place oozes California laid-back cool. 331 Motor Way . Get coffee at Santa Barbara Roasting Company right next door.
The Blue Door – spend hours in here perusing their amazing vintage finds of furniture and home goods. It’s a favorite, still dreaming about vintage blue wine glasses.
Mountain Air Sports – for all your outdoorsy needs, or simply to get a cool t-shirt or trucker hat that isn’t from a souvenir shop, go here. They also rent gear for local adventures as the name suggests. 14 State St. (805) 962.0049