Travel Guide to Santa Barbara

A few weeks ago, I went to sunny Santa Barbara - the quiet, coastal town 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Every year my mom and I like to do a "girls trip" - a trip to reconnect, spend time together, and explore a new place. The flight into Santa Barbara was one of the prettiest I've ever been on - something about the majestic hills that begin rolling into view, and as the plane takes a turn the coastline connects to this perfect caption. The Santa Barbara airport is absolutely adorable and cozy.

It had been a while since I've been to Santa Barbara. I'd forgotten how special this place was. The Spanish architecture, the long piers, the incredible food, the stunning beaches and of course the wineries.

How To Get Around

You'll need to take a Lyft or an Uber to get into downtown Santa Barbara. If you plan on just staying in the immediate Santa Barbara area, you won't need to rent a car. If you plan on going to the surrounding wineries, then you'll need a car. Most of the door-to-door wine tours are really expensive and you spend quite a bit of time driving around picking people up from hotels. The most popular mode of transportation in Santa Barbara is either walking or biking. It's a very active town - bicyclists, runners, skateboarders, surfers, you name it.

Where To Stay

We stayed at the Hotel Californian, and I really think it was the best hotel there. It was the closest you could get to the beach, it had a roof top pool and jacuzzi, and it was on the main street - State st - but far from the crowds.

It has an ultra modern, Moroccan style. The rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Where To Eat

You could literally spend your whole trip eating. There is SO much amazing food. It's almost overwhelming how much good food there is for such a small town! For breakfast we loved: St. Helena's Bakery (get the ricotta toast), Goat Tree, and D'Angelos. For lunch, we loved: Bluewater grill, Carlitos (amazing Mexican!!), and Public Market. For dinner, we went to: Loquita (a really fun and tasty modern tapas), Blackbird, Bouchon, and Toma (get the sausage rigatoni - you will go home so full and happy!). For a snack, I'd highly recommend Juice Ranch - try their turmeric chocolate chip cookie! I popped one of their samples in my mouth as I was walking out and it was like a flavor bomb went off. I turned around and had to buy a whole cookie. You will definitely need a reservation for the more upscale restaurants for dinner, but for breakfast and lunch we were able to get seated everywhere pretty quickly.

Where To Explore

There is so much to explore in Santa Barbara - especially if you love the beach. Spend time at the beach swimming if the weather is good, taking walks, kayaking, running along the beach. If you love wine, this is the place for you to be! There are so many wineries, but also tasting rooms. Most of the tasting rooms are clustered on E Yanonali St, and you can just drop in between them. The Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art is exceptional. It's pretty small but it's just enough art for 1-2 hours of browsing. We also got our self-care on and stopped by for a massage at La Reve Organice Day Spa.

Where To Shop

State street is THE place to shop - it is a street that is a couple of miles long, and along it you will find every type of shop you can imagine. There are also touristy shops along both piers. Most of the shops sell boho-style clothes and trinkets. LA and Santa Monica are only two hours away if you want to hop in your car and hit some mega shopping!

What's your favorite thing about Santa Barbara?

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