A weekend trip to Santa Barbara

My birthday is in early March, and exactly a year ago, we spent it in Paris and London. Since that trip—which now feels like a million lifetimes ago—we took a road trip to Big Sur and Yosemite last summer but haven't traveled at all since then. So not only were we both going stir-crazy in our apartment, we were really just wanting a change of scenery for a few days. Luckily, restrictions in California are starting to loosen, so Sean surprised me with a weekend trip to Santa Barbara. It's a town I'd visited a few times for a day trip, but I'd never spent a lot of quality time there. After two full days and three nights, I now understand why Harry and Meghan landed in nearby Montecito. Here's what we did on our long weekend trip to Santa Barbara.

What to do

State Street is the main drag in Santa Barbara. It starts at the beach and the downtown area runs for about a mile and a half before things start to get more residential. Most of the street is closed to cars (at least it was while we were there), so it's lovely for walking, particularly in the morning when it's not super crowded. It's also great for shopping—there are big-name chain stores, but I highly recommend Diani, which has a main store, a smaller shoe store, and a home offshoot. If you're in Montecito (more on that later), there's a Cos Bar, where I ended up dropping $80 on hand creme and a bar of soap, lol. 

Just to the north of Santa Barbara is the Santa Ynez valley, where Sideways takes place. It's home to a bunch of wineries that conveniently have tasting rooms in the city, so while a day in the country is lovely, stopping in for a tasting is even more accessible. We went to Jamie Sloane and Frequency, and while both were excellent, I'd recommend the latter if you only have time for one. We left with four bottles and a strong desire to join their wine club (we still might!). 

There is also the beach—a gorgeous long stretch of it, with running/biking paths, dog-friendly sections, and, as a very wise aesthetician once told me, positive ions. 

Where to eat

We started each morning with coffee and a croissant from Dart Coffee. It's in the Funk Zone, a tragically named neighborhood just east of State Street that's home to a lot of wineries. It's also where you can find The Lark, which I would recommend for cocktails but not much else. 

We contemplated ordering takeout from Flor de Maiz, but once we saw the ocean-adjacent location, we decided to dine outdoors, and I'm glad we did. Their fish tacos were excellent (Sean's were lobster!), the drinks were huge, and the people-watching was off the charts.  

For dinner, I can't recommend Loquita enough. Not only were the service and ambiance lovely, the Spanish food was realllly good—we had a surf-and-turf paella, a bunch of tapas (including the most delicious pan con tomate I'd ever had), and, of course, churros for desert. 

If you have time to go to Montecito (you know, if you're on your way to hang out with Oprah, Ellen, Rob Lowe, or Harry and Meghan), the place to go is Honor Bar, which also, famously, has a location in Beverly Hills. The drinks were freaking delicious and our omelettes were the richest we'd ever had. More importantly, the people-watching was incredible, even if we didn't see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

Where to stay

Santa Barbara is notoriously expensive—it's home to a lot of wealthy early retirees—and we didn't feel ready to stay in a proper hotel, so Sean booked us an Airbnb. Not only was it nice to have a little space to spread out in, plus our own deck for morning coffee (and evening wine), it was in a better location than most hotels, just a few blocks away from State Street. Oh, and it was dog-friendly, so we brought Zuni. Most places in Santa Barbara have outdoor seating (the weather is seriously perfect most of the year), so having her with us was no problem at all. 

While I would have loved to have had another full day, we had an amazing trip—and I'm sure we'll be back!


Mica said...

It looks like a lovely trip! Happy birthday to you! :) it's nice you were able to explore and get out for a bit and visit so many nice places to eat and drink! :)

Hope you are having a good weekend :)

Away From The Blue

Life's a shoe said...

This looked like such a lovely weekend! Loving all your photos. Also really love your skirt!

Life is a Shoe

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

What a fun trip for your birthday! I love the doggy flight photo, how cute! Oh, I know. We haven't traveled out of state in a year. I miss travel!!


Shelbee on the Edge said...

Cheryl, it looks like a fabulous time! I am glad that you got away to celebrate your birthday. I really, really like your fun mules! They look so comfortable and perfect for walking around. And I did know that about positive ions at the beach! I think I wrote an article about it a few years back when I was freelancing for a beauty site. The beach is so good for us in so many ways! Happy Belated Birthday! Thanks for linking.