Located at the base of the Santa Ynez mountains and less than two hours north of LA, the American Riviera as is been called is a beauty. The Spanish colonial architecture and perfect year-round weather make it ideal to travel to whenever! I want to start by prefacing that a weekend in Santa Barbara is not enough or at least it didn’t seem like to us. There was a ton we wanted to do but the days just flew by and we weren’t able to do it all.
This area of California is perfect for those wanting to get away from the city but still have access to great food and fun activities. I won’t lie to you- the thought of renting a summer house did cross my mind a couple of times..haha. Santa Barbara slows you down and that’s what I loved most about it. The vibe is so chill that you will ask yourself if anyone actually works?! But anywhere you go in Cali seems to have that same lifestyle – have any of you been to Santa Barbara? What’s your favorite city in California? Leave me comment below – would love to hear from you.
Start your morning with a green juice at Juice Ranch – I was totally obsessed with the juices and went there like 4x!
Head over to the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens – what’s better than spending a morning with nature? Thomas and I really enjoyed it – very peaceful.
Insider tip: Hydrate and maybe bring a couple of protein snacks incase you get hungry!
Take a stroll in the Funk Zone (downtown area) of Santa Barbara – it has shops, galleries and a ton of wine tasting rooms. You really can’t go wrong with this area. Also, walk along State Street – it’s also located in the downtown area and has nice shops, upscale dining, and cultural venues.
Insider tip: State street takes you directly to the beach – so pack your beach bag for a quick morning/afternoon dip! 🙂
Dinner and wine at Barbareno. The service was outstanding here! The menu was all explained in detail even to where the ingredients all came from. This restaurant is def. big in supporting local farmers – oh and to top it off, they only serve wine and beer – so they had a great wine selection. 🙂
Grab breakfast at Helena Avenue Bakery which we loved! Order the Green breakfast bowl and a slice of the banana bread – both were delicious!
After breakfast go on a hike! Some popular ones are Lizard’s Mouth (the drive is pretty scary because the road is narrow and you’re going up), Rattlesnake Trail, and Cathedral Peak all have great views and for all levels.
There are a ton of beautiful wineries about 45 min away from Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit any but here are a few of the ones we researched: Demetria Estate, Brander, and Star Lane
If traveling to the winery is not an option, stay in the Funk Zone and hop around the different tasting rooms. One in particular that I enjoyed was the Municipal Winemakers tasting room – they had great wines but also had someone selling lobster rolls outside.
If you’re not in the mood for lobster rolls, try La Super Rica Taqueria, it’s known to be Julia Child’s favorite Mexican spot.
Have dinner and drinks at Smithy Kitchen + Bar – an airy and spacious restaurant with a simple yet classy vibe. The food was wonderful – all family style. Some of the delicious menu options include pasta, grilled pork belly, squid ink casarecce (pasta) and brisket stroganoff. We sat inside but the outside patio looked lovely as well!
Insider tip: I’m sure the dessert at Smithy’s is great but we decided to go get a cone of the delicious and infamous McConnell’s Ice Cream shop. Try the churros in a waffle cone…ugh – so good!
Grab breakfast at D’Angelo Pastry and Bread – a bit pricey for breakfast but delicious and fresh! All pastries are made in-house so def. a good place to order that croissant.
Pack your beach bag and head to Butterfly Beach in Montecito. Butterfly beach is stunning and known for the best sunsets! If you are craving a cocktail just head to the Four Seasons Resort which is right across from the beach.
Insider tip: For “to-go” sandwiches and snacks go to Helena Bakery or stop by Juice Ranch Montecito location for refreshing and healthy juices.
Enjoy dinner and drinks at The Lark. It’s in the Funk Zone area so you will probably walk by it a million times before you actually eat there! It’s family style ( family style seems to be a reoccurring theme haha). The food was great and instead of a bread basket, you get a tasty bowl popcorn.