In the Spring I traveled to the American Riviera or Santa Barbara. You may have read about the first half of my Spring Break trip which include some time in The City by the Bay and a road trip through Big Sur down into stunning Santa Barbara. I road tripped along with my best friend from high school who lives in Saint Helena and one of her friends from college who lives in San Francisco. I had a wedding in Santa Barbara and they were eager to visit, so we all made a trip out of it. Isn’t adult Spring Break the best thing ever? My time in Santa Barbara was split between my friends I rode down from SF with and some college friends in town for the wedding.
Let’s start with the beauty that is the Pacific Coast Highway. I mean.. this view is outta control. With every turn and curve on the road I saw another stunning view that made me want to repeatedly stop to take it all in. Before arriving in SB, we stopped in Los Alamos. The Alamo Hotel and Muni Wines is the most precious stop and we wanted to see the hotel and buy some wine since we couldn’t fit in a night there. I LOVED this charming town and hotel. It had such a fun vibe. If you make your way there, make sure you stop by Bob’s Bread, which is the cutest little bakery in town.
If you’re coming in from LA, you can take the Amtrak train into Santa Barbara so you don’t have to worry about renting a car. Getting around Santa Barbara was very easy by foot or on bikes and there were plenty of ubers to take as needed.
- Hotel Milo: a precious hotel across from the beach with views of the sea and mountains that is centrally located. I stayed here with my girlfriends on our first night.
- The Fess Parker- a large resort with everything you ay need available on site. Plus, it’s a Doubletree so hello delicious, warm chocolate cookies
I stayed between the two hotels above. However, given the chance, I’d love to stay at either of the hotels below:
- The Canary- my girlfriend’s checked in here for a R&R day when I was off at The Fess Parker busy with wedding festivities. I stopped by before our final meal on the way out of town on Sunday and oh myyy is it charming. The rooftop pool is to die and it’s perfectly located right of State Street. The onsite dining is supposed to be amazing and the decor was so bright and cheerful.
- San Ysidro Ranch- If Forbes names it the #1 hotel in America, then it’s gotta be good, right? From all that I’ve heard, YES. It absolutely comes with a price, but this place is stunning. The onsite dining at each of the restaurants is supposedly perfection (I sadly did not make it here during my time in SB) and the overall feel of the hotel just screams ‘getaway.’ I absolutely want to spend a romantic weekend here in the future.
Another highly rated hotel is the Simpson House Inn. It looks extremely charming and is a great location in reference to State Street. This smaller property is full of character and is said to have wonderfully helpful staff.
- The Lark: so nice I had it twice. Really, two nights in a row with the two different groups of friends in town. I basically tasted the majority of the menu and I’ll tell ya that it does not disappoint. My favorites were the pimento cheese, crispy brussels sprouts, and the pork belly.
- Arigato Sushi: a standard sushi restaurant with a great atmosphere on State Street that is a perfect before a night out.
- Lilly’s: extremely relaxed taco restaurant that is delicious, cheap, and quick!
- Tupelo Junction: a precious southern spot that is a perfect stop in the morning after a long night.
- Bouchon: a french restaurant with the most spectacular reviews that serves local and seasonal food in a cozy atmosphere.
- Los Agaves: when your Mexican food craving hits, you can enjoy all the classics here in a fun atmosphere.
- Lucky Penny: pizza, sandwiches, and salads for a casual meal in the Funk Zone.
- Finch & Fork: located in the Canary, I’m so sad I didn’t get to taste my way through this place. I’ve heard wonderful hints about the fried chicken sandwich and will absolutely be trying it on my next visit.
- Plow & Angel: located at San Ysidro Ranch, this restaurant is called the most romantic restaurant in Santa Barbara. It boasts a casual and charming atmosphere that has items on the menu to suit everyone’s tastes.
- Stonehouse: also located at SYR, this restaurant has an amazing ambiance and a menu made up of wonderful, fresh ingredients.
- McConnell’s: SB’s favorite ice cream shop since 1949.
- State Street- plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars to entertain you
- The Funk Zone- wine tasting rooms and breweries in close proximity to one another so it’s easy to walk between them.
- Wine Tasting- there are a ton of different options for heading out to the wineries or multiple tasting rooms if you don’t want to travel a bit.
- When we went wine tasting into wine country, we had a group of about 40+ people in town for the wedding I was attending who all jumped on a big, party style school bus. The company is called ‘Jump on the School Bus’ and is insanely fun! I highly recommend them for a group outing into wine country.
- Stearn’s Wharf- the most visited site in Santa Barbara. We went to the Deep Sea Wine Tasting room here, which is where I got some killer sunset views. I’d highly recommend a casual tasting and some cheese here while the sunsets before dinner plans!
- Santa Barbara Courthouse- beautiful building and views of Santa Barbara from the top
- The Mission- a fun piece of history to keep your mind working between all the wine
- Boat Tours
- Dolphin/Whale Watching
- Biking (including some bike wine tours)
I can’t even tell you how much I LOVED Santa Barbara. The combination of wine, nightlife, food, scenery, and the beach is all too perfect. It was truly a dream trip. I cannot wait for a weekend getaway there soon so I can continue exploring the charming city!