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From farmers markets to fresh seafood, the Santa Barbara South Coast has something to satisfy every appetite. Here, local, seasonal and artisanal options proliferate, and culinary craftsmanship is reflected in destination-inspired dishes. We believe that food and fun go hand-in-hand, and invite you to spend three delicious days of exploratory eating, during which you will learn, appreciate, and indulge in food and drink that reflects Santa Barbara’s local cuisine, heritage and culture.
Follow the path forged by culinary influencers Aida Mollenkamp and Marla Meridith, and enjoy a variety of edible experiences that will change the way you think about Santa Barbara cuisine, beyond the plate.
Come hungry, and savor Santa Barbara with this ultimate gastronomic guide:
Let Santa Barbara’s luxurious lodging options welcome you to The American Riviera®:
Belmond El Encanto: 800 Alvarado Pl.
“I stayed at the gorgeous Belmond El Encanto. With every detail I could see why this is the only Forbes five-star resort in the area. The property sits high in the hills with grand views of the Pacific. The landscape is beautiful and the property breathtaking. Set on seven acres of lush gardens this hotel will whisk you away from the rest of the world. The El Encanto has been a landmark since the 1920s. Hollywood has always chosen it as a place of elegant refuge.” – Marla Meridith
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara 1260 Channel Dr.
“The grand dame of Santa Barbara hotels, this is one of the most classic hotel properties in California. It's located just south of downtown in Montecito just along Butterfly Beach. The sprawling property is California classic in every way — tennis courts, California Spanish tiles, and lots and lots of palm trees. If you don't stay there, go for a sunset drink!” – Aida Mollenkamp
MORNING / AFTERNOON:
Hit the Santa Barbara Harbor for fresh seafood and fun in the sun!
Santa Barbara Fish Market: 117 Harbor Way
“Some of the local catches include halibut, white sea bass, lobster and crab. The area yields 10 million pounds of seafood per year. We explored the wonderful flavors with plentiful tastings. I tried the regional specialty Uni (sea urchin) for the first time & loved it!” - Marla Meridith
Santa Barbara Sailing Center: 133 Harbor Way
“I swear I am going to learn to sail someday but on this trip I just got in a morning Stand Up Paddle session. Santa Barbara Sail is right in the harbor so you can paddle in the harbor on very flat water if you're a beginner or head out to the ocean if you're more confident and looking to catch some waves.” – Aida Mollenkamp
Take a sip of Santa Barbara at the local wine tasting rooms and The Funk Zone.
PoTeck Winery: 406 E Yanonali St.
AVA Santa Barbara: 116 E. Yanonali St.
“We also tasted at the super cool Valley Project —I fell in love with their chalk illustrations on the walls. While there we enjoyed blissful tastings of wines produced in each of Santa Barbara’s county regions.” - Marla Meridith
The Santa Barbara Wine Collective: 131 Anacapa St.
We also toured The Funk Zone, part of the Urban Wine Trail,…This eclectic and hip neighborhood is so cool! It’s filled with chef-owned restaurants and locally produced wine tasting rooms. We enjoyed a tasting at the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. We had delish wines and freshly caught Uni. We also discussed wine with Brian McClintic, a master sommelier featured in the movie “Somm.“- Marla Meridith
End the day by dining Alfresco in the historic courtyard of El Paseo.
Intermezzo Bar & Café: 819 Anacapa St.
Ready, Set, Breakfast! A good breakfast is the start of a great day, and in Santa Barbara that’s no exception.
Belmond El Encanto: 800 Alvarado Pl.
“Simple never tasted so good! This steel cut oatmeal is a power meal to me through a busy day in Santa Barbara. I adore you, Belmond El Encanto.” – Marla Meridith
“Midweek multi-course brunch of Huevos Rancheros, Nutella-stuffed brioche French toast and insane pastries at the stunning Belmond El Encanto.” – Aida Mollenkamp
MORNING / AFTERNOON:
Pay a visit to The Santa Ynez Valley. Santa Barbara’s famed wine-country is a short drive away.
S.Y. Kitchen 110 Faraday St, Santa Ynez, CA.
“The valley is made up of a string of quaint towns, each with a rich history of its own. This area is making its mark worldwide as an excellent source for California wines. We enjoyed lunch and a mixology class at S.Y. Kitchen. The food at S.Y. Kitchen is AMAZING! The food is clean, fresh and Italian-inspired. The owners are from Italy… They really know great food and drink! This grilled octopus salad Nicoise was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten!” - Marla Meridith
“S.Y. Kitchen is a place that’s based on Italian food, but makes the most of the food and culture of its setting. They served us twists on classics like an octopus-version of a Nicoise salad and a perfectly balanced daiquiri, but also some unique treats like a Basil-Pomegranate Margarita, a Beet and Burrata Carpaccio, and this Fusilli alla Salsiccia. Made with homemade pasta, spicy sausage, and some smoked cheese, I had to recreate it when I returned home. So, here is my take, a Pasta with Tomato Sugo, Sausage, and Smoked Cheese.” – Aida Mollenkamp, Salt & Wind
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company– 2446 Alamo Pintado Ave, Los Olivos
“Each mile of the Santa Ynez Valley has a different gem to uncover. You’ll want to make time for both wine and beer tastings everywhere from classic places like Fess Parker to craft brew at Figueroa Mountain Brewery.” - Aida Mollenkamp, Salt & Wind
But don't forget to visit the tasting room in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone!
Say Adieu to Santa Ynez, and make your way back to the city. A sunset is waiting in Santa Barbara, and we know the perfect way to watch nature’s nightly production.
Nanco Helicopters: 515 Marxmiller Pl. Santa Barbara, CA.
“We had a great experience from the air too! We went on a helicopter tour with Nanco Helicopters. I highly suggest you do this if you visit. It was amazing seeing the coastline with a birds eye view. Our pilot took the windows off for excellent non-glare photo ops! It was so cool to see the mansions and gorgeous scenery from the air.” - Marla Meridith
“So, yes, a helicopter tour is not something you do everyday but a place with a super varied landscape - like Santa Barbara — is a pretty amazing place to do it. Preferably at sunset. And, if you have the time, going all the way out to the Channel Islands and back.”
- Aida Mollenkamp
Barbareño: 205 W. Canon Perdido St.
“Every single plate at Barbareno pays homage to Santa Barbara and California's history. From local ingredients like avocados, quail, and figs to dishes like the Eggamuffin (their upscale twist on the Mc Muffin, which was invented in SB btw), the Oak Tagliatelle, and the Ranchero Scotch Eggs, everything they do has a nod to Central Coast cuisine.”– Aida Mollenkamp
What’s a vacation without a little relaxation? Santa Barbara spas are nothing short of spectacular.
SALT: 36 W. Victoria St.
“Spent the most relaxing AM at SALT where I got my firs tsalt cave spa sesh in this setting!” - Aida Mollenkamp
FLOAT Luxury Spa: 18 E. Canon Perdido St.
“In between all the food and fun, I was treated to a relaxing facial at FLOAT Luxury Spa. Here’s a little Insta video of that.” - Marla Meridith
Time for a little lunch (or a lot)!
Santa Barbara Public Market: 36 W. Victoria St.
“The grand finale on this trip was a Quick Fire Challenge at the Santa Barbara Public Market. This experience was a blast!! There were three contestants, including yours truly, the fabulous Ted Nguyen and Meredith Garofalo (a local FOX Santa Barbara reporter) and two judges…one of them being the awesome Cat Cora. Our first dish was Tuna Tartare, the second round was a Red Thai Curry.” - Marla Meridith
SB Taco Trail:
Lilly’s Tacos 310 Chapala
Mony’s Mexican Food 217 Anacapa St.
La Super-Rica Taqueria 622 N. Milpas St.
Taqueria El Bajio 129 N. Milpas St
“My mission today: tackle the Santa Barbara Taco Trail starting at Lillys Tacos then hitting up Monys Mexican Food, La Super-Rica Taqueria, and El Baijio Taqueria. Wish me luck!” - Aida Mollenkamp
Finish your appetizing adventure with a Santa Barbara family-style dinner.
The Lark: 131 Anacapa St.
“Ask anyone where to eat in Santa Barbara right now and they'll most likely name The Lark or one of its sister places, Les Marchands or Lucky Penny. This is where I spent my last night and it was such a great vibe — the place is built in homage of The Lark train, which passed through Santa Barbara back in the day and has decor elements highlighting that history. Some of the top bites of our meal were the Marinated & Grilled Hanger Steak, the Southern Pimento Cheese, and the Hamachi Crudo” – Aida Mollenkamp.
Looking for a unique way to celebrate the winter holidays? Stop the search! Santa Barbara is just the place for you and your loved ones to have a winter vacation. Thanks to Southern California’s temperate climate, holidays in the The American Riviera ® are always merry and bright. Play by the seashore instead of the snow, or linger over a glass of local sparkling wine. You might just glimpse monarch butterflies on their annual migration — if not reindeer! How’s that for holiday enchantment?
Come together with friends and family at Santa Barbara’s many festive gatherings and experience traditions new and old, from the famous Parade of Lights with its sparkling boats to tasty Christmas tamales. The South Coast’s stroll-able scale and welcoming community make it easy to remain true to the spirit of the season. And if you need to get your shopping done, artisanal holiday boutiques and area shopping centers offer crowd-pleasing gift options.
Go ahead, read on for more ideas:
ICONIC SANTA BARBARA HOLIDAY EVENTS:
SANTA BARBARA PARADE OF LIGHTS
Sun., Dec. 6, 5:30 p.m., Santa Barbara waterfront
Santa Barbara’s annual Parade of Lights celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015. More than 30 boats adorned with thousands of lights and festive decorations will illuminate the waterfront as they navigate through the Santa Barbara Harbor and around Stearns Wharf. This year’s theme, “A Red, White and Blue Holiday,” honors past and present military veterans. Festivities start at 3 p.m. with Santa’s Village at the City Pier on Santa Barbara Harbor, featuring 10 tons of snow, elves with goody bags and visits with Santa. It all ends with a bang in a fireworks show launched from West Beach immediately following the boat parade. FREE. Click here for more information.
DOWNTOWN SANTA BARBARA HOLIDAY PARADE
Fri., Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m., State Street (from Sola to Cota street intersections)
Families won’t want to miss the 63rd annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade, led by very special Grand Marshal R2D2 (the droid from “Star Wars”)! More than 65,000 spectators will gather along State Street to cheer on a colossal contingent of high-stepping marching bands, fabulous holiday floats, spectacular performance groups, the Holiday Prince and Fairy, and Santa Claus atop his festive sleigh. This year’s theme is “World A’Glow.” Before the parade, join Santa for photos from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Paseo Nuevo Center Court. FREE. Click here for more information.
“UNA NOCHE DE LAS POSADAS"
Fri., Dec. 11, 7 p.m., starts at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, 123 E. Canon Perdido St.
Experience one of Santa Barbara’s oldest holiday traditions during “Una Noche de Las Posadas,” presented by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.The evening begins with a performance of holiday songs in the candlelit Presidio Chapel, followed by a procession that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s nine-day journey to Bethlehem in search of lodging (at “posadas” or inns). Stroll to historic Casa de la Guerra, where festivities continue with more singing, traditional refreshments and piñatas. FREE. Click here for more information.
CHRISTMAS AT THE CASA
Holiday tours throughout December, Casa del Herrero, 1387 E. Valley Road, Montecito
There’s nothing like enjoying Casa del Herrero (the “house of the blacksmith”), a historic 11-acre estate in Montecito, when it’s decked out in finery for the holidays. During a special tour, get a glimpse of what Christmas in 1930s Montecito might have looked like. Visitors are invited to enjoy a cup of hot spiced cider while touring the gardens and rooms, which some liken to a miniature Hearst Castle for their splendor. A limited number of holiday tours in December are available by advance registration.
“Christmas at the Casa” soirée, Sat., Dec. 5, 5 to 8 p.m., Casa del Herrero
In addition, Casa del Herrero’s year-long 90th anniversary celebration culminates with its annual “Christmas at the Casa” soirée, Sat., Dec. 5. History and interior design buffs won’t want to miss these rare treats. Ticket prices and more information: 805-565-5653 or click here for more information.
SNOW LEOPARD FESTIVAL & SLEDDING AT THE ZOO
Sun., Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Niños Drive
It’s a winter wonderland beneath palm trees at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Snow Leopard Festival. More than 75 tons of snow are used to fashion sledding runs, create children’s play areas and placed in exhibits for snow leopards, gorillas, meerkats, otters and other animals. Kids can zoom down the zoo’s hilltop, play in the fresh powder and learn about these endangered creatures. Also offered are face painting, a California Condor Climbing Wall, photos with Santa and arts and crafts. FREE with zoo admission ($10-$15), $3 snow-area access. Click here for more information.
Sun., Dec. 6, 3 p.m., The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.
“Merry-Achi Christmas” is a colorful and traditional Mexican holiday celebration full of seasonal songs and merriment. Headlining the exciting extravaganza is the twice Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández. Joining the group on stage is America’s first all-female, Grammy-nominated mariachi band, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Tickets start at $28. Click here for more information.
“THE CHRISTMAS REVELS”
Sat., Dec. 19 and Sun., Dec. 20, shows both days at 2 and 7 p.m., Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.
Santa Barbara Revels presents “The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice.” Subtitled “The Treasures of Spain,” this year’s engaging performance transports audiences to the crossroads of Andalusia in southern Spain, where indigenous Iberian, Moorish and Sephardic traditions converge. The costumed company performs lively dances and glorious music from more than four centuries of Spanish culture, accompanied by a brass ensemble and a troupe of traditional string and wind instruments. Tickets start at $15. Click here for more information.
“A SKY FULL OF HOLIDAY STARS ON ICE”
Sat., Dec. 19, 12:30 and 5 p.m., Ice in Paradise, 6985 Santa Felicia Drive, Goleta
Ice in Paradise, the brand new 46,500-square-foot recreational ice rink that opened in October, presents its inaugural holiday ice show. The seasonal spectacular features ice skating champions from around the U.S. and the world, including Olympian Brendan Kerry, plus members of the rink’s Figure Skating Club. A VIP Dessert Party follows at the Bacara Resort & Spa. Tickets start at $15. Click here for more information.
Santa Barbara Festival Ballet: Sat., Dec. 12 at 2:30 and 7 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St.
State Street Ballet: Sat., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.
No Christmas is complete without that time-honored tradition, “The Nutcracker” ballet, and Santa Barbara has two versions of the family favorite to choose from. Santa Barbara Festival Ballet’s production includes a cast of more than 100, including guest artist Russell Janzen of the New York City Ballet (as Cavalier), and live music by the Santa Barbara Symphony. State Street Ballet’s performance features Gustafson Dance students with live accompaniment by Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra. Ticket prices vary.
Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Festival Ballet.
Click here for more information State Street Ballet.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING AND TOURING
HOLIDAY LIGHTS PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
Tuesdays through Saturdays through Dec. 19, 5 to 7:30 p.m., downtown Santa Barbara
Take a walking tour of downtown Santa Barbara focusing on the holiday splendor of State Street, starting at La Arcada Plaza, and learn to take successful photos at night with your cellphone or camera. Night photography can be challenging, but Eye See Santa Barbara will teach you to use flash, proper exposure and already illuminated subjects in a scene to reduce blurry images, as well as other techniques you can use year-round. Capture festive portraits while learning about iconic Santa Barbara landmarks, including theaters in the Historic Theatre District. $55. Click here for more information.
SANTA BARBARA PUBLIC MARKET HOLIDAY FESTIVAL
Sat., Dec. 5 and Sun., Dec. 6, Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 W. Victoria St.
Celebrate the most magical time of the year during the second annual Holiday Festival. Join the fun with free cookie decorating, visits with Santa and caroling on Saturday. Then come back for more on Sunday, with $5 tasting passports, ornament making, a holiday dessert cooking class, live entertainment and more. Holiday arts and crafts classes will take place both days. Click here for more information.
FOLK & TRIBAL ARTS MARKETPLACE
Fri., Dec. 4 through Sun., Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open to 6 p.m. Friday), Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol
The 30th annual Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace, the largest folk art show in Southern California, is a goldmine for treasure seekers. This shopping extravaganza features unique and exotic treasures sourced from 50 different countries, including Peru, Indonesia, Spain, Turkey, and more, with a fantastic selection of baskets, décor, ethnographic art, furniture, jewelry, pottery, rugs and sculpture. FREE admission. Click here for more information.
YES STORE, ORIGINAL ARTISTS’ GIFT GALLERY
Open seven days a week, now through Thurs., Dec. 24, 807 State St.
A Santa Barbara tradition since 1968, the Yes Store is the original pop-up boutique for one-of-a-kind arts, crafts, jewelry, clothing and accessories handmade by local artisans. Among the store’s offerings, you’ll find wooden cutting boards, ceramic housewares, tooled leather purses, ornaments, printed cards, pendants, photography, wall art and more. Last-minute shoppers take note: the Yes Store is open through Christmas Eve. Click here for more information.
PASEO NUEVO “SNOWFALL,” SANTA AND MORE
Fri., Nov. 27 through Thurs., Dec. 24, 651 Paseo Nuevo
Holiday festivities at one of downtown shoppers’ favorite malls kick off Black Friday, when many stores open early at 7 a.m. (and several the night before). Highly anticipated nightly “snowfall” takes place each evening in Paseo Nuevo’s Center Court, Monday through Saturday at 7 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 and 6 p.m., beginning Fri., Nov. 27. Sing along to classic wintery songs. Snap photos with Santa (every child gets a free gift!) and visit with his elves Fri., Nov. 27 through Thurs., Dec. 24. Photo packages start at $22. More than 20 live entertainment ensembles will serenade shoppers nearly every day, including costumed carolers and holiday brass. Click here for more information.
RESTAURANT AND HOTEL OFFERS
BACARA RESORT & SPA
Goleta’s premier luxury resort celebrates the holidays with special activities throughout December. In the week leading up to Christmas, join the resort for nightly tree lighting ceremonies in the lobby and enjoy a cup of hot cider and cookies. With a theme of “A Coastal Christmas,” this year’s centerpiece is a one-of-a-kind art holiday installation of Agave Americana, a native plant that blooms only once in its lifetime. You can carol your way through the resort’s beautiful grounds on festive jitney carts in the evenings. Snuggle up in your pajamas and head to the resort’s Screening Room to sip hot cider and watch screenings of classic holiday movies, including “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Christmas Story” and more, most Friday and Saturday evenings in December. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, let The Bistro’s chef do the cooking and savor an exquisite four-course dinner with favorite holiday dishes.
Click here for more information.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE BILTMORE SANTA BARBARA
Head to the Montecito resort for its beloved Teddy Bear Tea, Sun., Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. An annual holiday tradition that benefits local children’s charities, the Four Seasons’ special tea time is designed for parents and children and is the stuff of cherished memories. The hotel’s acclaimed Bella Vista Restaurant serves a festive Christmas Eve dinner created by Executive Chef Alessandro Cartumini and the next day offers a Christmas Buffet, featuring an extensive selection of traditional dishes and gourmet items including seafood, salad, pasta and carving stations.
Click here for more information.
BELMOND EL ENCANTO
Throughout the month of December, Belmond El Encanto’s lobby is transformed into a winter wonderland with hot apple cider and holiday cookies ready to welcome guests. The “Season of Serenity” package (available now through the end of 2015) includes bungalow accommodations, daily breakfast for two and a reinvigorating peppermint foot scrub in Belmond El Encanto’s resplendent spa. Plus, seasonally inspired treats and a custom-blended bottle of pinot noir welcome your arrival. The resort’s Dining Room and Terrace features an à la carte menu on Christmas Eve, with festive live music by crooner Luca Ellis. Then on Christmas Day, chefs will create a special three-course à la carte menu designed to bring guests the best of the season.
Click here for more information.
THE CANARY SANTA BARBARA
Centrally located downtown, The Canary offers a “Santa Barbara Holiday Cheer Package” (Nov. 25 through Jan. 4). In addition to deluxe accommodations, the package includes family-friendly treats, such as “make your own cocoa” bar, DVDs and more. Guests can also enjoy quality family time in the heart of Santa Barbara by renting complimentary public bikes from the hotel for a ride through town and down to the beach. Let the hotel dazzle you with its stunning holiday suites (Nov. 25 through Jan. 4). Each is decked out with a beautifully decorated tree, festive ornaments and a special Santa Barbara ornament boxed under the tree for you to bring home. If you stay a minimum of eight nights Dec. 1 through Dec. 31, you’ll receive eight special Santa Barbara gifts. http://www.canarysantabarbara.com/
This holiday season, thaw out in the sun in Santa Barbara with Hotel Milo’s “Holiday in Paradise” package (available through Dec. 24). Enjoy trolley rides, ice skating and sunny beach days for the best of both worlds this winter. Rates start at $201.
Click here for more information.
It's time to break up with your winter wardrobe and re-define what it means to go on a winter vacation. Start trading in your warm layers for sunscreen and surfboards, the Santa Barbara South Coast is a must-visit family destination this holiday season. Not only will you be trading in your scarfs for flip flops, but instead of staying in, the focus of family fun will be on all there is to discover and explore... outdoors!
To give you a head start on the planning, we'd recommend these kid (and parent) approved activities:
Surfing, that's what's SUP.
Instead of sledding, Santa Barbara has surfing and SUP'ing in the sunshine. Let instructors teach your kids the art of "kowabunga" during year's best surfing months. With 6 different beach locations to choose from, each of these popular breaks offer up a swell time. Learn More
Goleta's Butterfly Grove
Wonder and excitement are in store during a visit to Goleta's Butterfly Grove, located in Sperling Preserve on Ellwood Mesa. During the special months of November through February Ellwood Mesa's 137 acres are filled with Monarch Butterflies within the trees and taking flight. Just steps from the butterflies are walking trails and easy beach access to the Pacific. Bring a picnic, grab your bathing suit and make it an afternoon.
Find Your Park - The Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are a National Park unlike any other, and is undoubtedly one of the most unique and breathtaking in the country. Exploration and education await you and your family on a trip is pristine park as you'll discover unique animals, plants and archaeological resources found nowhere else. Learn More
Wave to the whale! Start your morning on Santa Barbara's waterfront and set forth on trip of a lifetime. Winter is the perfect time to explore the seas and say hi to our marine wildlife on a whale watching expedition. Learn More
Family Nature Day
After a stop at Old Mission Santa Barbara, head to Santa Barbara's Museum of Natural History to discover and reconnect with nature. On November 15th, enjoy a family nature day with free admission to explore The Museum Backyard and Nature Club House. Learn More
Upgrade walking on the beach to horseback riding along the shore! Kids and parents will spend the afternoon galloping along the sand, creating unforgettable memories in an unbelievable location. Learn More
Thanksgiving Day Pumpkin Smash
After enjoying a family Thanksgiving, get the kids out of the house and head to the Santa Barbara Zoo. Watch as the elephants, gorillas, and other Zoo animals play and interact with pumpkins. This annual event is not to be missed, and is a guaranteed smashin' good time. Learn More
As you can see, there countless ways for you and your family to redefine what it means to go on winter vacation in Santa Barbara. From afternoon getaways to week long escapes, we've got just the right place for you and your family to call Santa Barbara home. Book your next vacation with these great hotels & hideaways.
Image by Instagram Fan @charliejkaye
Looking for a little freedom from your routine this Fourth of July? Whether you need ideas for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, or are itching to get away before Labor Day, the Santa Barbara South Coast is here to inspire you with many reasons to visit. Starting with our beautiful beaches and famed red-tiled rooftops to our acclaimed wine and food, arts and culture and outdoor recreation, we’ve narrowed it down to these top five reasons to escape to The American Riviera®, located just 92 miles north of Los Angeles:
1) Beautiful, Safe Beaches and Outdoor Adventure
When it comes to outdoor recreation, Santa Barbara is an equal-opportunity water, land and air destination. In just one day, you can surf, kayak or paddleboard over the waves; hike nearly 2,500 feet above sea level to Gaviota Peak and take a dip in natural hot springs; horseback ride in the Santa Barbara hills; or rock climb Lizard’s Mouth and the majestic Rock Playgrounds. If golf is your game, Santa Barbara's many world-class golf courses will beckon with their rolling fairways and panoramic views. If you prefer a bird’s eye perspective, you can hang glide over Santa Barbara’s bucolic foothills. Or spend the day in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, where you can catch a glimpse of migrating whales, dolphins, marine mammals and pelagic birds.
Image by Instagram fan @posesawkwardly
Of course, if you just want to lounge on the beach, Santa Barbara beaches offers more than 100 miles of shoreline to enjoy with warm sunshine and refreshing breezes all summer. Some visitors have wondered about the state of the region’s beaches following the Refugio spill (some 23 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara). The good news is that 19 of the area’s 20 beaches have been declared safe and thousands of visitors have been flocking to the beaches for weeks. El Cápitan State Beach has reopened for camping and day visits, with Refugio State Beach slated to reopen in mid-July.
Image by Instagram Fan @SeanFord_
2) Great Summer Hotel Deals and Packages
Whether you’re looking for a hotel with fabulous July 4th activities or spa, golf and culinary packages – some with savings of up to 20 percent – look no further than Santa Barbara this summer. With sophisticated urban amenities and small-town coastal charm, Santa Barbara hotels offer the chance to relax with style. Click here for a list of the latest summer offerings.
Image by Instagram Fan @teamwiking
3) Fourth of July and Summer Events
If you’re in town for the Fourth, there are many ways to celebrate the weekend, with fireworks sparkling at the top of the list. Enjoy spectacular displays with live music from the beaches near Stearns Wharf, or for an adventurous experience, on board the Condor Express, on a Fourth of July evening cruise in the coastal waters outside the Santa Barbara Harbor. The remaining days of summer offer a host of other scintillating events, from the California Wine Festival (July 16-18) to the French Festival (July 18-19 – don’t miss the Poodle Parade!), Old Spanish Days Fiesta (August 5-9 – this year’s theme is Fiesta Romantica) to the 20th annual Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival (August 8) and more. Click here for details and additional options.
4) Epicurean Paradise
Whether you're a wine geek, fervent foodie, seasoned chef or just someone with an endless appetite for great food, Santa Barbara offers an unforgettable taste vacation. Inspired by abundant, locally sourced, seasonal produce, seafood and meats, young upstarts and long-renowned chefs alike are making Santa Barbara’s culinary scene one of the most exciting in California. Forward-thinking mixologists are putting their spin on old classics and inventing new cocktails inspired by freshly harvested herbs, fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets. A great way to experience this bounty first-hand is to sign up for the Farmers Market Foodie Stroll, where Executive Chef David Rosner of the Wine Cask takes guests to the local market to pick ingredients and then transforms their selections into a delectable multi-course dinner paired with local wines.
Image by Instagram Fan @mundo_libre
Made famous in the film Sideways, the area’s wine regions, which include five distinct AVAs, are popular with oenophiles and food lovers, who sip everything from world-class pinots to chardonnays and syrahs. Urbanites can savor the region’s signature libation along the Urban Wine Trail in downtown Santa Barbara or veer off the path for a cool glass of medal-winning beer at one of the area’s 18 craft breweries. Active types can bike their way through sun-streaked Santa Ynez Valley vineyards, pausing to taste along the way. And art aficionados may want to merge their appreciation for wine and art with experiences that pair the two. Click here to learn about these options and more.
Image by Instagram fan @altamariawine
5) Unique Cultural Experiences and Attractions
Santa Barbara offers a canvas of experiences filled with unforgettable performances, artistic creations and cultural attractions that define its unique character. From the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and cool, contemporary art studios in the Funk Zone to soul-stirring performances at local theaters and sweeping architecture, inspired sights and sounds abound in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Trolley Company offers a great way to see some of the area’s attractions, with ongoing daily narrated tours to sites such as Butterfly Beach, Stearns Wharf, Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge. Families shouldn’t miss the Santa Barbara Zoo, set on a hillside estate with ocean views, where they can hand-feed the giraffes. Or experience the region’s upscale cowboy culture with a stay at the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch and Stables, featuring horseback riding and gourmet dinners. Click here for more Culture 101 offerings.
What makes a place so memorable?
The character of the Santa Barbara South Coast is crafted among 300+ days of sunshine a year, a mild Mediterranean climate, it's in the mountains that frame the city and in the playful sea. Always fresh is the local flavor present in every dish, and in the downtown tasting rooms of the Santa Barbara family of vintners, you can savor our community.
But what makes Santa Barbara so distinctive is the warmth and welcoming personality of the locals, whose passion shines through daily when you meet them and hear their stories. Just ask our social fans & followers.
Visit Santa Barbara presents #SBStory: An original series showcasing Santa Barbara's passion, character, and flavor through the stories of three creative locals who call the Santa Barbara South Coast home.
Follow along in the coming weeks as we introduce you to 3 Santa Barbara locals, as they share their #SBstory and what the Santa Barbara South Coast means to them.
Episode 1: Fire
Released: Thursday, June 25th
Follow the story of Santa Barbara's last remaining glassblower, Saul Alcaraz, and discover his infectious passion for the art of creation. Watch as Saul captures the essence of California sunlight and creates magic in his studio.
Saul's glass blowing works of art are displayed in several businesses around town (from Santa Barbara resorts to restaurants). Although Saul got his start as an artist, he loves teaching and sharing his passion with anyone visiting Santa Barbara. He teaches glass blowing class to travelers and locals looking to try a new, hands-on Santa Barbara activity.
Episode 2: Light in the Mountains
Released: Thursday, July 9th
Follow local photographer, Blake Bronstad, on his tireless quest to capture the elusive, unplanned, yet intimate moments, where light, landscape and lens intersect but briefly to create one of his atmospheric pictures.
Growing up in California, Blake discovered his passion for photography at a young age and has pursued it ever since. To Blake, the Santa Barbara mountains, ocean, parks and gardens inspire beautiful images. Blake carries his Nikon camera most everywhere he goes because "the best shots are the ones you never plan, from lighting patterns to a sunset you weren't expecting."
Episode 3: A Taste for Family
Released: Thursday, July 23rd
For Katie Grassini, the taste of her wines is infused with the flavor of family and community.
It's more than locally grown grapes, the rich soil, and the environment-- it's the flavor of family that you taste in Grassini wines. Follow the story of Katie Grassini who found her balance in work and life cultivating the family wine business - Grassini Family Vineyards - in the Santa Ynez wine region, and their downtown Santa Barbara, California wine tasting room (in the Wine Collection of El Paseo located in the historic Presidio Neighborhood).
You can follow the stories on Facebook, or YouTube. Special scenes and extras to be released on Instagram and Twitter.
We want to hear from you! Have a great Santa Barbara experience, share it with us on social media with #SBstory
The countdown has begun! With only a handful days left until it is officially summer in the Santa Barbara South Coast. While we do get 300+ days of sunshine a year, and it always feels like summer, there are so many reasons to visit Santa Barbara in the summer. For instance, have you ever kayaked in the sea caves at The Channel Islands? Played a round of golf on one of our dream courses? Or attended one of the many summer festivals? To help guide your summer holidays in Santa Barbara, we’ve compiled a list of 30+ activities that celebrate the sunshine and encourage you to go outdoors and explore.
1. Kick off the summer season with a parade, face paint and weekend long festivities at the Summer Solstice Celebration.
2. Channel your inner adventurer and rock climb at Romero Canyon.
3. Spark your adventurous side and go sea-cave kayaking on The Channel Islands.
4. Bring the kiddos and take a ride on Lil' Toot with Captain Fred from the Santa Barbara Harbor to Stearns Wharf.
5. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine (and the roses!) in the rose gardens at Old Mission Santa Barbara.
6. Take to the skies and see all there is of SB with a Santa Barbara Helicopter Tour.
7. Grab a friend and strike a pose at Douglas Family Preserve.
Photo of Instagram fan jillananda and taken by photographer mattdayka
8. Spend the afternoon antique shopping on Lillie Avenue in Summerland.
9. Have an impromptu photo shoot during a golden Goleta sunset.
Photo by Instagram fan piergiuliocaivano
10. Sip and swirl the best of Santa Barbara County wines seaside at the California Wine Festival.
11. Take a loved one to the top of the Santa Barbara Courthouse to see a spectacular view.
12. Dress to impress and attend a polo match at the Santa Barbara Polo Club & Fields.
13. Grab a cup of coffee and cruse down Cabrillo Blvd on a weekend morning to see the Arts & Crafts Show.
14. Let the music fill your soul with a concert under the stars at the Santa Barbara Bowl
15. Shop the afternoon away along State Street on a sunny summer day.
Image by Instagram fan dopaoaocaviar
15. Make the drive to Cold Springs Tavern on a Sunday for a tri-tip sandwich and tunes for a good ole Sunday afternoon.
16. Take the challenge and bike ride into the mountains above Santa Barbara.
17. Take man’s best friend to a spot he’ll never want to leave, Hendry’s Beach.
18. Watch both the sun rise and the sun set (all in the same day!) at one of Santa Barbara’s best beaches.
Image by Instagram fan sbrealtor
19. Dance to Mariachi music during Old Spanish Days 2015.
20. Saddle up for an afternoon of horseback riding along the Pacific.
Image by Instagram fan littlelynnSB
21. Combine the love of art and wine with a painting in the vineyard class.
22. Make the most of a family weekend, riding along Cabrillo Blvd by surrey.
Image by Instagram fan rastarajee
23. Test your knowledge of Santa Barbara and explore new locations on a guided scavenger hunt.
24. Wave to our offshore friends with a dolphin and whale watching adventure.
Image by Instagram fan tedtambakis
25. Hike to Montecito Peak and sign your name on the ledger that you reached the top.
26. Complete the “Dream 18” and play a round of golf on our picturesque courses.
27. Learn photography from the masters and go on a photo adventure to capture the sunrise, sunset and a night under the stars on Santa Cruz Island.
28. Visit all of Santa Barbara’s parks and gardens, including the beautiful Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Ganna Walska Lotusland
Image by Instagram fan bybriankao
29. Have a family fun day at the Santa Barbara Zoo and see if you can spot Lucky the penguin and Buttercup the baby giraffe.
30. Kick flip and Ollie seaside at Skater’s Point.
31. Travel the world in Santa Barbara and attend both the French Festival and Greek Festival.
32. Start the day with an ocean sail on the open waters.
Image by Instagram fan charliejkaye
33. Watch a movie under the stars with a free film in the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens through SB Arts & Lectures.
34. Enjoy the beachside concert at Chase Palm Park every Thursday in the summer months (schedule coming soon)
Image by Instagram fan littlelynnSB
35. Bring the popcorn, milk duds and licorice when watching a movie with the family at the WestWind Drive in.
36. Take a drive to Restoration Oaks Ranch and pick a pale of fresh blueberries.
Image by Instagram fan wc_printworks
37. SUP under Stearns Wharf to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.
38. Spend the afternoon surfing at Ledbetter beach and stay to catch a spectacular sunset.
Image by Instagram fan _wandxrlust_
Brunch, adventure and relaxation, here’s your guide to planning an unforgettable Mother’s Day in Santa Barbara.
Mother’s day is a holiday best served with brunch and mimosas, or a Bellini in the case of Belmond El Encanto’s Mother’s Day Brunch. As you adore the sweeping views of Santa Barbara on El Encanto’s outdoor patio, you and mom can also savor in the delectable treats of a special Mother’s Day Menu and cheers to dear Mom, thanking her for all she’s done.
Other brunch locations include:
GRAB & GO
When mom’s visiting Santa Barbara, there are plenty of options that allow you to appreciate the best bites and sights of Santa Barbara.
If mom has an artistic spirit, Santa Barbara is filled with activities that will allow for her to channel her inner artist and perhaps do something she’s never done before!
STRESS FREE IN SB
A mother’s day guide wouldn’t be complete without a little relaxation and pampering. Santa Barbara offers many different types of spas, retreats, salons and studios for Mom to indulge in. Starting with Float Luxury Spa where you’ll feel so light you could float, to Salt, where mom can recharge and rejuvenate in the largest salt cave in North America.
We all know that Mom deserves a little R&R. But, if spas aren’t her thing, we suggest a sunset sailing cruise with Sunset Kidd Sailing, or grabbing goodies from the Santa Barbara Public Market to be enjoyed on Mom’s favorite beach. Cheers to the end of a great day with a great mom, and let all of your cares sail away.
Hopefully our Mother’s Day Guide has given you the ideas and inspiration needed to plan a Mother’s Day your mom won’t want to end.
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.
For insider tips, special offers and more, sign up for our enews today!
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