Romance on The American Riviera®Santa Barbara’s aphrodisiac credentials are tried and true, offering a potent mixture of Mediterranean architecture, 100 miles of sparkling coastline and 300+ days of sunshine a year. Add countless sensory indulgences like world-class wine and farm-to-table cuisine, and you have recipes for perfect romantic getaways.
Steeped in romantic history, Santa Barbara has been the backdrop for the nuptials of Hollywood icons like Sir Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable and Rock Hudson as well as modern-day leading ladies like Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Mira Sorvino. Also a honeymoon hotspot, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier started the trend when they hid away at the San Ysidro Ranch in 1953. In July 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge let their love flourish when they stopped in Santa Barbara on their royal tour of California.
Today countless couples flock here for weekend getaways or romantic retreats to woo, wed, honeymoon or relish in romance. Whether your relationship is newly budding or you’re celebrating a golden anniversary, Santa Barbara’s romantic offerings are nearly endless. Read on for the top ten ways live out your own love story on The American Riviera®.
1. Royal Romance – Follow in Prince William & Kate Middleton’s footsteps and let your love flourish with a royal-worthy rendezvous. Post up at the Santa Barbara Polo Club for tournament finals every Sunday during summer months. Or unfurl your seafaring spirit with private sailboat charters departing from the Santa Barbara Harbor. Get a bird’s-eye-view of The American Riviera® like the Royal Couple did when they arrived to Santa Barbara by helicopter. For more ideas, visit our Royal Experiences page.
2. Pinot Puppy-Love – Get lost in love along Santa Barbara’s wine trails! Whether you’re touring the picturesque vineyards in the nearby Wine Country or stopping into the charming tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail, a glass of Central Coast wine is nearly always a prelude to kiss!
3. Secret-Garden Solitude – Santa Barbara is well-known for beaches, but local parks and gardens are undiscovered oases hidden in plain sight! Pack a picnic with your loved one, and find your own slice of solitude in the manicured Alice Keck Memorial Gardens, bluff-top Douglass Preserve, naturally beautiful Santa Barbara Botanic Garden or many other lovely parks.
4. Hide Away – Hunker down with your honey in pampered seclusion at one of Santa Barbara’s premier hotels. Cozy cottages, hillside haciendas, wild-west-style ranches and luxurious beachfront resorts provide the perfect setting for a romantic retreat.
5. Adventurous Amour – Santa Barbara’s natural playground is a Mecca for thrill-seekers. Get your adrenaline pumping with mountain biking on the rocky trails of the Santa Ynez Mountains or horseback riding along breathtaking stretches of sand. Feel the motion of the ocean with sea-cave kayaking at the Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary and surfing at world-class point breaks. Read our Outdoor Recreation guide for hair-raising ideas.
6. Say “Ahh” – Pamper the body and soothe the spirit at retreat centers, yoga studios and day spas. From luxurious resort facilities to holistic wellness centers, this coastal city has tons of ways for couples to breathe deeply and zen out! Visit our Resorts & Spas guide for ahh-inducing ideas.
7. Beach Basking – Yes, it’s obvious, but what’s more romantic than a stretch of sand, the sparkling Pacific and some lazy lounging with your loved one? From the stunning sunset views at Butterfly Beach to the rugged beauty of Haskell’s Beach, Santa Barbara’s varied coastline has an abundance of perfect places to share a romantic moment. Visit our Beaches & Parks page for the full roster.
8. Recipe for Romance – If the real way to your heart is through your stomach, Santa Barbara’s epicurean appeal may have you reeling in romance. With year-round bounty from the fields, orchards, sea and vineyards, a romantic getaway could include anything from a guided farmers’ market tour and an interactive chef’s dinner to a customized culinary itinerary with behind-the-scenes access to kitchens, workshops and wineries. Taste the very best of Santa Barbara at epicure.sb, a month-long, community-wide celebration of cuisine, libations and culture. Sample other ideas on our Sip & Savor guide.
9. Film Fairytale – Steeped in film history, Santa Barbara has served as the set for many movies. Follow in famous footsteps with Film Tour Itineraries. Trace the wine-infused, comedic romance depicted in Sideways (2004). Or if your relationship status is a bit complex, follow Meryl Streep’s steps in It’s Complicated (2009), filmed all over Montecito and Santa Barbara. Experience some glitz and glamour during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, a star-studded event held annually in January and February.
10. Celebrate at Signature Festivals – Known for our tastefully refined way of life, Santa Barbara knows how to throw a party. This small city’s calendar of events is full of fantastic celebrations feting everything from sun goddesses and street painting to world-renowned wine and fine arts. Check out our Top 10 Signature Events to time your romantic getaway with one of Santa Barbara’s special celebrations.