The SB Post
Planning a beach adventure? Looking to esape to some white sand and lapping waves? Need a place to let Fido run and play? Or the perfect sunset watching spot?
Then Santa Barbara's beaches are calling your name. Here's your guide to some of the area's best sandy spots:
Butterfly Beach (Montecito): There's a reason this beautiful beach graced the cover of Travel+Leisure magazine's May 2013 issue - it's absolutely stunning. The protected Motecito coast lends itself to a quiet bay. A favorite of stand-up paddleboarders, it's not uncommon to be joined by the occassional dolphin or sea lion whil you're out on your board. If you're looking for some artistic inspiration, this is a great place to set up an easil and capture the colors with pen on paper oil on canvas or through the lens.
Butterfly Beach bliss
East and West Beach (Santa Barbara): Stearns Wharf divides downtown Santa Barbara's coastline into these two favorite places to play. East Beach is famous for its pick-up volleyball games. West Beach is a great spot to see the sights from a sea kayak or hop on a sail boat. Its proximity to Santa Barbara Harbor makes it ideal for these alternative ocean activities.
Bump, set, spike at East Beach!
Leadbetter Beach (Santa Barbara): Beyond Santa Barbara Harbor, this beach entices with a picnic area and Shoreline Beach Cafe where you can enjoy patio dining or even a table in the sand.
Arroyo Burro Beach a.k.a. Hendry's Beach (Santa Barbara): An SB favorite, Hendry's is excellent for long beach walks. Dogs are allowed in designated areas and it's not uncommon to see paragliders launching from the cliffs overhead.
Carpinteria City Beach (Carpinteria): This beach boasts the title of "World's Safest Beach" with its gentle waves and sandy ocean floor. Riptides are uncommon making it excellent for swimming and the beach stretches for miles. Enjoy a stroll through downtown "Carp" while you're here.
Santa Claus Lane (Carpinteria): If St. Nick was looking to try surfing, this is most likely where you would find him. A locals' favorite, this is a fantastic place to try your hand at surfing, boogie boarding or take a quick dip!
Goleta Beach (Goleta): Like to pack it all in during your beach time? Then this is where you'll want to go. Goleta Beach offers volleybally, picnic area, fishing facilities and restaurant. Almost a mile of sandy beach leaves you with plenty of options.
Refugio State Beach: Couple your time in the sand with a trip along a nearby hiking or biking trail. Pack a picnic and make a day of it! Just 10 minutes past Goleta, this is a fun spot for a quick escape.
Gaviota State Park: This beach and rugged coastline offer a slightly different perspective to the area's sand and sun. For unmatched views, consider a hike up to Gaviota Peak, which looks out over the ocean and Channel Islands.
With the official start of the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) only four days away, make sure you're up to speed (so to speak) on everything "America's Greatest Race" offers. Know the exciting answers to these frequently asked ATOC questions:
1. How will the race move through California? For the first time in its history, the race will travel south to north, spanning 750 miles of California roadways. View the entire ATOC route.
2. What if I want to extend my stay along the way, say in sunny Santa Barbara for the Stage 4 Finish and Stage 5 Start on May 15th and 16th? You're in luck; a variety of Santa Barbara hotels are offering ATOC-themed hotel packages.
3. Should I bring my bike, and if so, where should I ride while I'm in town? YES! Cycling enthusiasts of all skill levels and interests, from beginner to advanced, cruiser bike to mountain bike, will want to explore on two wheels while in town. Here are a few of our favorite Santa Barbara bike routes.
4. I want to be part of the Finish Line action. Are there any special events that day? Plenty! Don't mess the festivities along Cabrillo Boulevard where the race will finish between approximately 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday and start at 11:00 on Thursday. Make the most of it by attending the Stage 4 Finish Line Viewing Party.
5. I've never cycled in or around Santa Barbara; what can I expect? Check out this Amgen Tour of California Santa Barbara cycling video for inspiration.
It's a milestone in both the social media world as well as our a testament to how much our friends love Santa Barbara and how much we appreciate their contributions to the social media conversation: we're nearly to 100,000 people who like our Facebook page!
If you haven't already, head over and like our page, not just to help us get there, but because our Facebook community is a great place to find inspiration, SB advice and the beta on upcoming events. d
The social connections continue. For those looking to find out the latest in Twitter time, check out dour Twitter feed: @santabarbara. We're happy to answer questions and provide the travel information you're looking for!
For the pinners, our Pinterest boards provide endless inspiration for planning your next trip, what to do while you're here, shopping excursions, outdoor activities, food and wine, festivals and more!
It's a mere few weeks until the Amgen Tour of California kicks off in the southern part of the state and begins its epic trek north for 750 miles and eight days. Whether you're an avid cyclists or just looking to get in on action that rivals the Tour de France, make sure you add ATOC Santa Barbara to your spring calendar. Make the most of it with a stop in Santa Barbara, which isn't only an outdoor recreation lover's paradise, but also one of the Amgen Tour of California stops to be hosting both a stage finish and stage start!
Here's your guide to making the most of ATOC Santa Barbara:
ROUTE - Your snapshot of the entire 750-mile route, which will travel from south to north for the first time this year, winding along coastal roads, over mountain passes and through some of California's most scenic destinations.
SANTA BARBARA SOUTH COAST - If you're planning on visiting during ATOC, take a look at everything the Santa Barbara South Coast communities have to offer. We're pretty sure you won't want to leave once you do!
STAGE 4 FINISH LINE PARTY - Join the community and cheer on racers as they speed across the finish line, then celebrate at the Stage 4 Finish Line Party! Get your tickets today and join in the fun on May 15th.
SOCIAL LOUNGE - Keep up to date on all things #ATOC on our social media lounge. Of course, please share, post and comment if you have something positive to add!
VOLUNTEER - Helpers welcome. Check out ways you can contribute to the Amgen Tour of California Santa Barbara.
OUTDOOR LIFE IN SB - Of course, the action doesn't stop at the finish line in Santa Barbara. There is a wide variety of outdoor activity that awaits, including surfing, SUPing, golf, hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, Channel Islands National Park and much more. For those looking for some more two-wheeled fun, check out these SB bike routes; there's something for every ability level and interest!
HOTEL PACKAGES - Extend your stay with an exclusive Amgen Tour of California Santa Barbara hotel package!
Every day is Earth Day in Santa Barbara--with parks, gardens, beaches, ocean and fresh air aplenty! But once a year, we come together as a community and invite you to join us for the annual Earth Day Festival in Alameda Park. This free festival is a flurry of family-friendly activities and eco-centric events.
Home to the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, Santa Barbara embraces this annual tribute to all of our Earth-friendly efforts year-round. Highlights include bike valet, eco marketplace, contest, the Environmental Hero award, food and drink vendors, a green car show, kids' corner and main stage packed with a weekend-long lineup of live entertainment!
Don't miss the Environmental Hero Award, which will honor two recipients this year: Van Jones, president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, and Bill Nye, host of Stuff Happens on Planet Green.
If you're looking for a great way to honor the environment, have a fun time, and join others doing the same, make sure to kick off your Santa Barbara summer festival season with a visit to the Earth Day Festival on April 20 - 21!
For more ideas on how you can go green in SB throughout the year, make sure to learn more about Ecotopia!
This spring, give yourself the gift of a shopping trip to Santa Barbara and receive a $25 gift card when you do! This special Expedia offer is valid for weekday stays (Sunday - Thursday) April 1 - June 30, 2013. It's the perfect time of year to a) be in Santa Barbara, b) refresh your wardrobe and c) pamper yourself with some retail therapy!
Choose from a variety of Santa Barbara lodging options on the waterfront, uptown, downtown or in Montecito. The $25 giftcard is valid at two unique Santa Barbara shopping centers--La Cumbre and Paseo Nuevo. Here you'll find everything from namebrand to unique boutique. Couple your shopping excursion with world-class wine country, unmatched outdoor recreation on The American Riviera®, arts and culture and a landscape teeming with tales of Romance.
Throughout history, Santa Barbara has been home to many artists, musicians, culinary cornerstones and eccentrics looking to be inspired by their surroundings and carve out their notable corner of the globe. One of SB's favorite characters is Ganna Walska, the visionary and leading lady behind Lotusland--a 37-acre expanse of exotic plants, diverse gardens, whimsical natural exhibits and cobblestone paths hidden in a quiet corner of Montecito.
This morning, a handful of us enjoyed a tour through Lotusland, taking in the eco-centric sights through a mystical mist of morning fog during which it was easy to see that Madame Walska aptly lived up to the phrase she often used to describe herself: "I'm an enemy of the average."
Indeed. There is nothing average about Lotusland, but this garden enclave is well worth a visit. Docents lead visitors through 18 gardens, including an aloe garden, cactus garden, topiary garden, water garden, orchards, water stairs, theatre garden and Australian garden, to name a few. It's one of those places that quickly transports you to another place and time. From prehistoric plants to topiary reminiscent of royal English grounds, Buddhist figures tucked away among a Japanese garden landscape and a tropical garden that evokes South Pacific vibes, it's a quick trip through a vast history.
Our docent, Barb, graciously filled us in on many of the garden's nuances and history, peppered with fun facts about the Madame herself, including her six marriages and opera singing aspirations, globe-trotting younger years and friendships that helped define the garden as it stands today, including the donation of the cacti and euphorbias and one gardner who worked for Walska every day until he was 95.
Although she passed away in the late eighties, gifting the grounds to the City of Santa Barbara, Madame Walska's mesmerizing persona looms large in Lotusland. Make sure to make a reservation and plan for a two-hour tour.
Santa Barbara is widely known for a lot of things: architecture, history, arts and culture, wine, romance, family fun. But sometimes, one of its best features goes unsung, probably because it's so obvious, we forget to acknowledge how special it is. Outdoor recreation. When it comes to fresh air fun, Santa Barbara serves up a very healthy dose of opportunities for you to be your own motor. All you need is a little motivation and an adventurous spirit. Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of Santa Barbara's outdoor offerings:
1. Channel Islands National Park: Located just off the coast of Santa Barbara, across the Santa Barbara Channel, this incredibly unique national park offers you a quick trip to another time. After an exciting, wildlife-filled ferry ride across the channel, embark on an adventure by land or by sea when you start exploring this archipelago, complete with its own species of animals you won't find anywhere else in the world!
2. Amgen Tour of California Santa Barbara: Whether you're a cycling enthusiast or not is beside the point when this world-class whirlwind event winds through Santa Barbara on May 15th and 16th. Watch some of the best cyclists in the country sprint to the finish on Cabrillo Boulevard on the 15th and then catch the action as they start the next leg of the 750-mile long race on the 16th. Considering extending your stay to enjoy some of the Santa Barbara's attractions and outdoor activities with an exclusive Amgen Tour of California Santa Barbara hotel packages.
3. World-class Golf Courses: Santa Barbara's golf courses are some of the most spectacular in the country. Make your way through wine country or tee up along the coast.
4. Be a Beach Bum: Here, beach bums take on a slightly different meaning. You're more than welcome to spread out a blanket and soak in the sun, but it probably won't be long until you're tempted to join a pick-up beach volleyball or soccer game, or cool off with a dip in the Pacific!
5. Surf's Up!: Catch a wave, hang ten or stand-up paddle your way to vacation bliss in Santa Barbara, which features some of the best breaks in the West. Take a lesson, rent equipment or bring your own boards to our beckoning ocean bays and breaks.
6. Soar to New Heights: That's right, Santa Barbara's outdoor adventure takes it to the skies with paragliding. Coastal breezes and seaside cliffs make this an optimum destination for paragliding. Sign up for a lesson and soar high over Santa Barbara.
7. Hope on a Bike: If you fancy a nice bike ride, Santa Barbara has one for you. Road cyclists take to the surrounding shoulders while mountain bikers find plenty to do in the nearby hills. For a family-friendly day of pedaling, rent cruiser bikes and head to Cabrillo Boulevard.
8. Cabrillo Boulevard: Speaking of, this favorite thoroughfare is the perfect place to go for a run, walk or ride. Enjoy the oceanside distractions while you make your way along the Santa Barbara coastline.
9. Take a Hike: From Inspiration Point to Gaviota Peak, overland adventure is around every corner and along many mountainsides here. Don a pair of hiking boots or shoes and head for the hills.
10. Be Your Own Captain: Hop in a sea kayak and go exploring among the seals and dolphins of Santa Barbara's waters. You can enjoy a trip through Santa Barbara Harbor, or consider this a great way to explore the famous sea caves of the Channel Islands!
It might not immediately occur to you that Santa Barbara is the ideal eco destination, but dig a little deeper into the green roots of this coastal town and you'll quickly see why it's easy to be green here.
First, there is the literal greenery all around you. Expansive parks and gardens feature thousands of species of native flora and offer miles of hiking and walking trails. Take a trek through SB's greenery while you're here before heading to the beach for some different Earth tones, namely white and blue. Santa Barbara's pristine coastline invites you to dive in and explore the Pacific.
And there are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon foot print while you're here. Outdoor shopping plazas and pedestrian-friendly zones make it easy to go car-free. Hop on a cruiser bike and head to Cabrillo Boulevard, or be your own motor on a stand up paddle board or in a sea kayak! If you prefer to be chauffeured, other eco options include water taxi and pedi cab.
Replenish your Earth-conscious appetite with a variety of locavore options. Over 300 days of sunshine every year ensure fertile farms and ranches, many of which provide local, fresh ingredients to restaurants. The Santa Barbara Channel is another source of sustainably harvested delicacies. Make sure to try the Uni (sea urchin) while you're here; it's a Santa Barbara specialty!
We have plenty of ideas on how you can enjoy Ecotopia in Santa Barbara. And if you're here in late April, don't miss the Earth Day Festival. Celebrate this great day in the city that hosted the very first Earth Day festival in the late 60s!
Make Spring Break a Different Kind of Interactive Experience
Sometimes, you experience a destination. But in Santa Barbara, you can actually interact with one. This spring break, head to a place the entire family can truly get in touch with! It's a hands-on destination that invites you to participate, creating an experience that the entire family will want to hold on to.
Start with a visit to the Santa Barbra Museum of Natural History where you can check out a complete Blue Whale skeleton-one of only five in the entire United States! Then head to the Santa Barbara Zoo and help the zookeepers feed a giraffe before you make your way to the Ty Warner Sea Center for a series of interactive, hands-on exhibits including small sharks. From there, you'll need to replenish. Best to head to one of six weekly farmers markets to peruse some local produce, or do the picking yourself at a nearby u-pick farm!
In Santa Barbara, getting around even becomes a fun, family activity when you ditch the car and hop in a surrey or pedi-cab. Or rent bikes and cruise along Cabrillo Boulevard from one activity to the next. Of course, there's always the water taxi option. For a small fee, you can hop in and take this ocean-friendly trip from the Santa Barbara Harbor to Stearns Wharf, learning for a knowledgeable captain along the way. Keep an eye out for sea lions, dolphins and starfish!
For dinner, consider a trip to iGrill Korean BBQ where the hands-on fun continues when you grill your own entrée! After a full day of play, book your stay at Hotel Indigo, where you'll be surrounded by ever-changing local art, installments, creative plants and more. You'll need your rest because tomorrow, the fun at your fingertips continues with a possible trip to the beach, or maybe a hike through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
This spring break, come to Santa Barbara-where vacations come to life.