As a shining city on the central California coast boasting the Santa Ynez Mountains as quite the dramatic backdrop, Santa Barbara reflects a rich Spanish colonial heritage, its State Street lined with upscale boutiques and restaurants offering local wines and seasonal fare. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section nestled on the West Coast of the U.S., the city lies between the steeply-rising and aforementioned Santa Ynez Mountains and the mighty Pacific Ocean, its climate described as Mediterranean – perhaps most noble of all is the way in which Santa Barbara is often promoted as the “American Riviera” what with its contiguous urban area and magnetic draw as a popular tourist and resort destination.For Woodland Hills locals looking for a quick weekend getaway without leaving the coveted Golden State, Santa Barbara makes the perfect spot, and we’re going to shine some light on the best places to stay, the most unique restaurants to visit, and the most exciting things to do in this coastal paradise.
Places to Stay in Santa Barbara
AutoCamp Santa Barbara is one of the most popular places for luxury Airstream camping in California since 2013, a new type of outdoor lodging experience that’s unlike any other. Featuring modern and luxurious Airstream accommodations at unique “properties” throughout California, including Santa Barbara, AutoCamp was inspired by the wanderlust of camping and the great American road trip. Indeed, if you’ve been looking for a truly different kind of weekend getaway, enjoy the spirit of camping without giving up the creature comforts of a luxury hotel at AutoCamp Santa Barbara, located at 2717 De La Vina Street.
Spanish Garden Inn was established in 2001 and was originally the site of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts, eventually becoming a hotel and a “home for art” that’s second to none. Treat yourself to effortless luxury at Spanish Garden Inn, which features private gardens, in-room spa treatments and a sparkling lap pool in addition to an exquisite complimentary breakfast featuring fresh fruit, quiche, granola, specialty coffee drinks and more. This charming property is located at 915 Garden Street in Santa Barbara.
Kimpton Canary Hotel , established in 2008, sits just steps from State Street and the cultural hub of town. If you’re looking for the most stylish place to spend your weekend getaway in Santa Barbara, you won’t do any better than this property, nestled near State Street’s famed galleries, shops and restaurants. Kimpton Canary, as a fun-filled full-service boutique hotel, is a short stroll from beautiful beaches and a quick drive to wine country; meanwhile, rooms are made for nesting with exquisite, laid-back interiors, dark hardwood floors, imported mosaic tiles, four poster beds made of spiral carved walnut and down duvets – all accented with splashes of bright color. Four-legged guests are also welcome at this oasis located at 31 West Carrillo Street in Santa Barbara.
Places to Eat & Drink in Santa Barbara
Los Agaves will satisfy whatever Spanish and Mexican cuisine cravings you may have while in Santa Barbara, with a menu that includes Ceviche Tostada, Taquitos Dorados, Queso Fundido, burritos, Molcajetes, Chiles Nortenos, Carne Azteca, Rajas con Queso, Chile Poblano Campestre, Tacos del Mar, Carne Asadaand more. The raving reviews of this restaurant don’t do it justice; you need to experience the meat, beans, rice, cactus and the most delicious cheese on a green pepper for yourself. Los Agaves is located at 600 North Milpas Street in Santa Barbara.
Finch & Fork and executive chef James Siao designs clean, simple California cuisine that showcases the bounty of Santa Barbara County and the relaxed, effortless elegance of what Californians have come to call the “Best Coast.” In an inviting, dark-wood-paneled setting that screams “classic California,” your meal at Finch & Fork is prepared in a “playfully nostalgic” homage to timeless American dishes, but with a modern twist – from Spiked Milkshakes to Deviled Eggs and Baked Mac ‘n Cheese. Finch & Fork is located at 31 West Carrillo Street in Santa Barbara, and reservations are recommended.
Brophy Bros. is a “casual seafood house” established in 1986 and founded by – and still operated by – the Bennett family, located right on the dock in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Here, you’ll experience a bustling scene of fishermen, young professionals, and sand-sprinkled beachgoers nearly every night of the week, this true-blue waterfront institution serving some masterpieces like Dungeness Crab Cocktail, Oysters on the Half-Shell and Fried Shrimp. Fresh fish specials, such as Grilled White Sea Bass from local waters, Mahi Mahi dusted in Cajun spices and Pan-Blackened Local Yellowtail remain other Brophy Bros. menu highlights. The restaurant is located at 119 Harbor Way in Santa Barbara.
Stonehouse Restaurant was originally part of land titled in 1769 by the King of Spain – Ysidro Ranch – which later served as a way station for Franciscan monks in the late 1700s and later a working citrus ranch in the 1800s, all before becoming a guest ranch. In 1889, a large sandstone packing house was constructed to handle the citrus production, which today houses the Ranch’s acclaimed Stonehouse Restaurant. The Stonehouse features a relaxing lounge with full bar service and a separate dining room with crackling fireplace and creekside views. Dine under the romantic gaze of Southern California’s stars on the ocean view deck, as a wood-burning fireplace and heated stone flooring provide year-round comfort. The eatery’s regional cuisine is prepared with a palate of herbs and vegetables harvested from the on-site chef’s garden. Stonehouse Restaurant is located at 900 San Ysidro Lane in Santa Barbara.
Things to Do in Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Zoo boasts an impressive and awe-inspiring array of animals including giraffes, elephants, lions, and gorillas, and you can spend a half-day just meandering the grounds and taking in the Pacific Ocean views. Enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner after visiting the wondrous animals, and if you’re short on time, the Zoo Map highlights the “Must-See” exhibits which encompass Giraffe Feeding, Zoo Train, Barnyard, Climb for Condors Rock Wall, Kallman Family Play Area and “Dino Doc” Show. The zoo is located at 500 Ninos Drive.
Santa Barbara Beach Horseback Rides allows you to enjoy the invigorating – and romantic – thrill of a glorious Santa Barbara beach horseback ride in this acclaimed private or semi-private 90-minute attraction. Recently profiled on CNN Travel as one of “Three Things You Must Do in SoCal,” SB Beach Ridesprovides a true “Bucket List Adventure,” with outings offered three times daily during the summer (after May 1) and all day during the winter (after November 1). All horses are safe to ride and happily-retired show examples, and each love their job of taking guests along a secluded and beautiful beach. The attraction serves Santa Barbara and surrounding areas, and more information can be obtained by visiting SBbeaches.com or calling (805) 688-5984.
Grapeline Wine Tours was established in 2002 and offers a fun-filled day touring the vineyards and tasting “liquid treasures” crafted by passionate local winemakers. Enjoy daily wine-tasting tours on the fleet of deluxe shuttles with friendly hosts and thoughtfully-arranged itineraries, or reserve a spot on a public tour with pick-ups at most area hotels – you can even schedule a departure from your front door for a private group outing coordinated by a wine country insider. More information about Grapeline Wine Tours can be obtained by calling (888) 894-6379.
SB Buggie is Santa Barbara’s new number-one scooter rental provider, allowing every customer to see the city in the most exciting way possible. Established just this year, SB Buggie enables you and your weekend getaway partner(s) to experience the Mediterranean climate and picturesque coastline by way of stylish three-wheeled scooters; the company provides every customer the most scenic and exciting routes Santa Barbara has to offer, so you don’t have to worry about choosing the right path. SB Buggie is located at 120 East Yanonali in Santa Barbara.
Whether you want to relax on the beach, stroll through the city’s eclectic shops and boutiques or find a winery you have never experienced, you’ll find Santa Barbara a wondrous locale for a local weekend romp.