Santa Barbara is one of those iconic California destinations. It captures a lot of the essence of what people assume all of California is like – cool people, beautiful beaches, good food. I’ve been out here a few times as I had some friends attend UCSB for college, but I never really got to enjoy the city.
About 2 years ago, my husband and I went on a double date with our friends Albert and Patty (who are now engaged!) to Santa Barbara. It was a day date, so we headed out there early in the morning then came home that evening. It’s not too bad of a drive. I’d say it’s around 2 hours for us. Regardless, we got to see a lot of the city’s highlights.
When we arrived, it was still pretty gloomy. The sun had yet to burn off the clouds, but we had high hopes for a brighter day.
We had a quick bite on Stearn’s Wharf then started our day wine tasting. Santa Barbara has some great wineries closeby to the beach. We walked a few blocks inland and found countless wineries after wineries. They call it the Urban Wine Trail.
First stop was Corks n’ Crowns where we got to try flights of wines and flights of beers. Definitely a great spot if you’re also a beer fan. I remember trying one that tasted like chocolate!
The sun was coming out, so we walked around to soak in the views and beautiful architecture. One of the things I really wanted to see was the Moreton Bay Fig Tree so we started to head in that direction.
The Moreton Bay Fig Tree is a giant tree on “the corner of Montecito and Chapala streets, just a few blocks from the ocean, on land then owned by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company. The tree was officially designated as a historic landmark in 1970, and the property was deeded to the City of Santa Barbara in 1976. The tree has since been placed on the California Register of Big Trees.” (source
). It’s quite a sight to see considering it’s not every day you get to see a tree this massive!
Once we started heading back, we stopped by Oreana Winery. This place was so cute. It was colorful, lively, and had great wines! They also had great and knowledgeable service. I was in love with all of the decor.
We then headed back to Stearn’s Wharf for lunch and to try one more winery that overlooked the ocean.
We ate at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company which offered the good eats you’d like to find on a pier – seafood, seafood soups, and beers. The food wasn’t anything spectacular, but it definitely hit the spot 🙂
Before we decided to relax at the winery, dessert was in order. Here’s the boys enjoying dessert at The Great Pacific Ice Cream Company.
And then… wine at Conway Family Wines! You head upstairs to the spot and enjoy a glass of wine or two. They also serve charcuterie plates for you to enjoy with your wine, but even if you opt out of that option, having a glass of wine with the view they offer here is pretty great.
Photo above is Albert making friends with a local seagull. Ha!
Once we were done being winos, we headed over to the Old Mission which is the iconic mission of Santa Barbara. They offer tours here as well as an open museum, but we walked around and did the sight-seeing ourselves. It was beautiful and you truly feel a sense of history when you’re there.
We spent some time relaxing by the rose garden then we were off to dinner! Tristan wanted to go to the Hitching Post for our last meal of the day. If you’ve seen the movie Sideways, this is the spot! It’s not a fancy place, but it’s timeless… and they sure serve some great steaks. My mouth is watering a bit just thinking of it…
On our way back home, we stopped by the little town of Solvang which is a Danish village. It’s so cute. It felt like we weren’t quite in California anymore. The buildings were all traditional Danish buildings, and there were beautiful windmills everywhere! We didn’t get to do very much here as the town closes early (even the bathrooms get locked up early, but that’s another story), but we did get to walk around and catch a beautiful sunset before heading out. If we had come earlier, we could have enjoyed the opportunity to try plenty of traditional Danish goods. I hear some people like to book a room and stay in this town just to get away from the norm. Oh, and there’s wineries here too 🙂
Even though it was the perfect city for our day date, I’m hoping one day we can spend a weekend here because it seems like there’s still more to see and more to indulge in. It’s such a beautiful city, isn’t it? Nice little break from good ol’ Los Angeles…