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Ganna Walska Lotusland is often referred to as a botanical nirvana in the hills of Montecito, and after experiencing the 37 acre estate of the late Madame Ganna Walska first hand, I'd have to say that this description not only holds true, but merely begins to describe the breathtaking beauty and serenity that is held within each inch of the property.
Rare and uniquely it's own, Lotusland is a hidden gem in the Santa Barbara South Coast and is something that should be experienced by all. And while nothing will compare to visiting Lotusland yourself, below are a few facts and snapshots of some of my favorite gardens, out of the 18 that are located on the estate. Enjoy!
After purchasing Lotusland in 1941, the first changes Madame Walska made to the property was adding cactus, succulent, and euphorbia plantings to beds in front of her new residence. What it must have been like to call Lotusland home!
Although the Lotus flower wasn't in season when this photo was taken, the Water Garden is home to the flower for which the estate is named after.
Lined with abalone shells and Chilean wine palm, this pool was even more stunning in person.
Located in the heart of Lotusland, Madame Walska selected only plants with silvery to blue-gray foliage when she began planning the Blue Garden.
300 different species of cacti can be found in the Cactus Garden.
Located in the Theatre Garden, you'll find a 25-foot round horticultural clock featuring the signs of the zodiac amid hundreds of succulents.
Inspired to visit Ganna Walska Lotusland? Docent-guided tours are available at 10:00 AM and 1:30 PM, Wednesday through Saturday, between February 15 and November 15.
Decadent, culinary delights? Check. Savory, award-winning wines? Double check. Kurt Russell? Triple check! Join in on the delicious fun of the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend April 16-19th. And yes, actor and apprentice winemaker Kurt Russell will be in attendance with his wine label GoGi Wine.
Now in its 2nd year, the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend has continued to draw foodie fanatics and wine aficionados to the Bacara Resort and Spa for a four-day culinary weekend inspired by America's first and most beloved celebrity chef, Julia Child. The extended weekend, produced by Bacara Resort together with The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, includes more than 25 events, from cooking classes and educational panel discussions to wine tastings and grand dinners.
How can you maximize your time (and waistline) while in attendance? With the help of Bacara Resort and Spa, we've reviewed the five star line-up and are here to provide the top 5 can't miss events of the weekend.
5. Neighborhood Market
Now drawing national acclaim, Santa Barbara's culinary community has been cooking up a new name of itself, and Santa Barbara is no longer simply known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle. From farmer's market fresh to home-style cooking, each of Santa Barbara's neighborhoods have a flavor all their own. During this event, each of Santa Barbara's neighborhoods will be serving up samples of these local tastes. This year's even includes the featured regions of The Funk Zone, The Presidio, Arts District, Old Town Goleta, Santa Barbara Public Market and Santa Ynez Valley.
4. Local Seafood Lunch with Celebrity Chefs Suzanne Goin & David Lentz
Calling all seafood lovers! Enjoy the culinary talents of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs, Suzanne Goin and David Lentz, operators of the acclaimed restaurants a.o.c., Lucques, Tavern and The Hungry Cat. This LA-based duo will be there to talk about the lunch menu, featuring locally-sourced seafood, Alma Rosa Wine, Crazy Good Bread and McConnell's Ice Cream. Is your mouth watering yet?
3. Short Film Screenings featuring The Lexicon of Sustainability
Don't miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear from Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton, the masterminds behind The Lexicon of Sustainability. Together, their projects have received national acclaim for educating, engaging and activating people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America. This session includes three short film screenings of The Story of an Egg, Food Waste and True Cost Accounting, followed by discussion with Douglas and Laura.
2. Grand Wine Dinner with Actor & Apprentice Winemaker Kurt Russell
Wine aficionados (and Russell fans) will have the rare opportunity to hear directly from Kurt about his label, GoGi Wine, as well as Hudson Bellamy Wines and Ampelos Cellars. Kurt will present the stories behind the wines, their inspiration and their unique qualities driven by how they are grown and blended in the renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County. This exceptional evening includes a wine reception with live music followed by a four-course "Ranch to Table" sit-down dinner with Kurt's wine pairings. (Autograph book optional.)
1. Opening Reception & Julia Tribute
And the number one can't miss event? The Opening Reception that honors the woman we're all here to honor, Julia Child. As one of last year's fan favorite events, this wine reception includes more than 40 varietals by the region's top Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association winemakers, and is preceded by a special video tribute to Julia Child hosted by Dorie Greenspan, the multi-award winning baking authority and author, and Geoffrey Drummond, Julia's former TV producer and director.
The Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend takes place at Bacara Resort & Spa on April 16-19, 2015. Advanced reservations are recommended as events do sell out. Bacara is offering an All Access VIP weekend getaway includes a two-night stay over the festival, two All Access VIP Passes and valet parking. Proceeds benefit The Julia Child Foundation. For tickets or more information, please visit www.BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com.
If you’ve been on Twitter or Instagram this week, you’ve seen that Santa Barbara is sending social sunshine to brighten the days of those in Chicago and Denver. From daily giveaways of TEVA Sandals to grand Santa Barbara getaways, we’re making our fans and follower’s days just a little brighter. And why wouldn’t we?! With over 300+ days of sunshine in Santa Barbara, we’re happy to spread the warmth of our summer-like winters.
However, if you’re not located in Chicago or Denver, we’d still like to brighten your day with 4 pre-planned itineraries to inspire your next vacation to the Santa Barbara South Coast.
Itinerary #1 – “Pic” & Play in Santa Barbara
No matter where you go on vacation, the one accessory that always comes along is your camera. Treat yourself (and your sidekick) to a winter beach vacation spot that has a backdrop made for photo shoots and stunning selfies.
In celebration of the Amgen Stage 5 Start in Santa Barbara on May 14th, this itinerary is for those who prefer 2 wheels to 4.
Itinerary #3 –Sip & Spa in Santa Barbara
Vacations were made for relaxation, and so is this next itinerary.
Itinerary #4 – Explore A little More
Starting in the heart of Santa Barbara and venturing out into the south coast cities of Montecito, Summerland and Goleta, there is plenty more to explore during your stay.
For additional offers to brighten your day, please visit BrightenYourDaySB.com for complete details.
From the blues of the Pacific coastline to the golden rays of sunshine, the Santa Barbara South Coast is surrounded by beauty all year round. Walks on the beach get better with every sunset and hikers are blessed with breathtaking views as they reach their peak. These vivid colors, that are signatures of Santa Barbara, can also be seen bloomed within the flowers grown in Santa Barbara County each year.
In fact, did you know that Santa Barbara County is the highest producing flower region in the United States? It’s true! Friends, family and loved ones across the US are gifted with a bit of Santa Barbara, when they receive or purchase a bouquet of flowers!
Until the celebration begins, here are 5 interesting facts about Orchids!
For year-round botanical fun, Santa Barbara is also home to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden where you can wander 65 acres of exquisite exhibits of California native and Ganna Walska Lotusland, a rare botanical nirvana in Montecito, CA.
During its opening night, SBIFF debuted the US Premiere of Desert Dancer, directed by Richard Raymond and starring Freida Pinto. Showcasing the importance of freedom of expression, Desert Dancer is a powerful and unbelievable true story that follows the brave ambition of Afshin Ghaffarian. During the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, where many cultural freedoms were threatened, Afshin and his friends risk their lives and form an underground dance company. Through banned online videos, they learn from timeless legends who cross all cultural divides, such as- Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other, most importantly how to embrace their passion for dance and for one another.
Desert Dancer was an inspiring movie for all and a cinematic start to another successful Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
For more information on the 2015 Santa Barbara Film Festival Line Up, click here.
And, if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat or drink before your movie, discover over 25+ dining offers and 10+ wine tasting flights as part of Film Feast 2015. Or if you’d like to stay and indulge a little more, we’ve got you covered with 17 cinematic lodging packages.
Guaranteed to inspire your next vacation to Santa Barbara, we've put together 5 inspiring quotes that we try to live by in the Santa Barbara South Coast.
1. "Every sunrise is an invitation to brighten someone's day."
Days in the Santa Barbara South Coast sure are bright with 300+ days of sunshine a year! This winter, ditch the gloom and head to Santa Barbara's sunny shores. To sweeten your stay, here are a few sunrise surprises.
2. "All I need are palm trees and a little bit of paradise."
Parks and beaches in Santa Barbara are a paradise all their own. Here are a few of our favorite beaches.
3. "Better to see something once, than hear about it a thousand times." - Asian Proverb
The Channel Islands National Park is undoubtedly one of the most unique and breathtaking in the country. During your stay, making time to see this hidden gem is a must.
4. "Always take the scenic route."
From the beach shores to the mountain tops, exploring the entire Santa Barbara County is well worth the drive.
5. "This is my happy place."
For us, the Santa Barbara South Coast is home. After visiting, you'll never want to leave.
With the chaos of the holiday season, and the aftermath of Black Friday, it’s important to take the time to relax, de-stress, and to use this time to create special moments you’ll remember throughout the year. In Santa Barbara, we’re in no shortage of sunshine and activities for you and your loved ones. While your friends and family are in town for a Thanksgiving getaway, or perhaps you’re preparing for a Santa Barbara Christmas, here are a few activities that will help to relieve your holiday stress and welcome the warmth of the season. Did we mention it’s still sunny and 70 degrees here?
Get off your seat and on your feet! Spend the afternoon hiking in Santa Barbara and you’ll be lead to spectacular views of the city. Or, on an overcast day, you’ll be transported into a dreamland above the clouds.
2. Beach Walk
If hiking isn’t quite your thing, but you still want to get moving after all the holiday treats, a beach walk is something everyone can enjoy. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of our favorite beaches.
3. Horseback Riding
Add a little giddy up to your holiday and experience horseback riding on the beach. Perfect for the whole family, this is an activity you and your kids will be talking about for years to come.
4. Savor a sunset
Nothing beats the beauty of a Santa Barbara sunset. Surrounded by a sky bursting with color, it’ll be a performance you’ll never forget.
Need one final way to de-stress this season? Spend the evening relaxing under a star-filled sky. There’s no better way to end your day.
However, if you’re looking for events to fill your holiday vacation, view our guide to the holidays in Santa Barbara.
The holiday season is no longer just around the corner, in Santa Barbara, our menus are planned, party outfits have been picked out and we're ready to celebrate the rest of the year surrounded by friends and family. Whether you're planning a Thanksgiving getaway or if Santa Barbara is your Christmas vacation destination, we're here to help plan your stay with some of our favorite events of the season. With so many holiday events and gatherings to choose from, your calendar is sure to be booked from now until 2015.
In between planning your Santa Barbara Thanksgiving and putting the final touches on your holiday menu, take the time to attend one of our November events. From cooking unique side dishes to running off those holiday pounds, you'll have a "smashing time" at the following events:
For a complete list of November holiday events, please visit our November Events Calendar.
During your California Christmas vacation, dash through Santa Barbara in December. We're more than a winter beach vacation. Below, you'll discover holiday traditions that include a few of our favorite things, parades, trains and a toast to champagne.
For a complete list of December holiday events, please visit our December Event Calendar.
One of the simplest pleasures of Santa Barbara is its proximity to the ocean. With miles of sandy coastline, and over 300+ days of sunshine to enjoy, you'll have trouble picking which of our pristine beaches to visit first. From surfer dude waves to a gentle ocean, Santa Barbara beaches have something to offer everyone.
When you're ready to hit the beach, here are some of our favorites with a few insider tips:
1. Arroyo Burro Beach
Insider Tip: Known as Henry's Beach to locals, Arroyo Burro Beach is a flat, dog-friendly spot. There's even a dog-washing station in the parking lot!
2. Butterfly Beach
Insider Tip: Located in Montecito, Butterfly Beach faces west, making it a great place to watch the sunset.
3. East Beach
Insider Tip: Bring the family and head to East Beach, next to Stearns Wharf. East Beach makes your stay a breeze with lifeguard stations, playground, cafe, and volleyball courts.
4. Goleta Beach Park
Insider Tip: This good land beach is for those who like to be active during their beach time. Goleta Beach Park is complete with a fishing pier, playgrounds, picnic and grill areas, bike trails, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.
5. Ledbetter Beach
Insider Tip: Near the harbor, where the coastline wraps around the beach. Because the coastline trends east to west, you can watch both the sunrise and sunset here.
6. Summerland Beach
Insider Tip: Looking for a relaxing time? Summerland beach is a low-key spot that's not only dog friendly, but horse friendly too.
Which of these Santa Barbara beaches is your favorite?
As a lover of Santa Barbara and even bigger lover of Santa Barbara wine, I’m happy to announce and cheers to Santa Barbara’s newest wine tasting neighborhood, the Wine Collection of El Paseo. Located in the heart of fine dining and high-end shopping on State Street, these 6 ultra-premium wine tasting rooms are the perfect pairing for an afternoon (or two!) of wining, dinning and shopping.
Photo By Mark Weber
But what sets this new tasting neighborhood apart from others in the area? The new Wine Collection of El Paseo features small-production, boutique wineries that produce ultra-premium wines sourced from local Santa Barbara County vineyards. In addition to tasting great wines, while you sip and swirl, you’ll be able to earn how these wines are locally crafted and about the terroir of where the grapes are grown in Santa Barbara County. It’s truly a grape to glass experience!
Tasting rooms of the Wine Collection of El Paseo includes Au Bon Climat Winery, Grassini Family Vineyards, Happy Canyon Vineyard, Jamie Slone Wines, Margerum Wine Company and MWC32.
Spend the afternoon in Downtown Santa Barbara and taste for yourself! All tasting rooms are open daily from 12-6 pm. Keep in mind the final tastings of the day begin no later than 5:30 pm.
Follow Grassini Family Vineyards on Instagram @grassinifamilyvineyards
For your epicure.sb insider tip, enjoy special tasting flights from:
Grassini Family Vineyards, featuring “Savor The Sauv” October 1-31
Jamie Slone Wines, featuring “Showtime at the Cabernet” October 1-31
Au Bon Climat Winery, featuring “Monster Mash Tasting Flight” October 24-31 and “Halloween” on October 31st
For insider tips, special offers and more, sign up for our enews today!
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