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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.
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.
For insider tips, special offers and more, sign up for our enews today!
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