Top 10 List: Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California has easily won its way into our hearts as one of our favorite destinations. We recently returned from our second visit and thought an update to our Santa Barbara Top Ten List was in order.
Santa Barbara is located 92 miles north of Los Angeles and 332 miles south of San Francisco. It is considered the northernmost part of Southern California and the southernmost part of Northern California.
It is also known as “The American Riviera” because of its dramatic mountains, sparkling seas, lush gardens, white-washed buildings, red tile roofs and abundant sunshine found in the Mediterranean Rivieras.
Furthermore, if you are planning a south to north drive of the world-famous central California coastline, then Santa Barbara is a great place to begin your journey.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Santa Barbara
- San Ysidro Ranch – check out our feature article from last year’s visit. Travel + Leisure calls this the #1 resort in North America.
- Simpson House Inn – this was our home away from home in Santa Barbara this year. This is the only AAA Five-Diamond Bed & Breakfast Inn in North America.
Our Favorite Places to Eat in Santa Barbara
- Downey’s Restaurant – consistently tops with Zagat. We loved it!
- Bouchon – wondrous “Wine Country Cuisine”.
Top 10 Things to Do in Santa Barbara
Although these are in no particular order, we think that you’ll find some great experiences in our list:
- Santa Barbara Red Tile Walking Tour – we spent half a day and enjoyed it greatly.
- Santa Barbara Urban Wine Tour – if you don’t have time to drive out into the wine country, this is a wonderful way to sample some of the local wines.
- Sideways (The Movie) Wine Tour – this will take a whole day, but the wine country with its accompanying small town are certain to be a delight.
- Shopping on State Street – it’s lined with shops, cafés, museums, galleries, day spas and theaters. We spent a whole afternoon strolling these quaint shops.
- Arroyo Burro Beach Park – The locals call it Hendry’s Beach -a place to meet for breakfast or a cocktail at sunset, stroll or jog the sandy shore, watch for whales, surf fish, or ride the wild surf.
- Steams Warf - this is Santa Barbara’s most visited landmark. It is replete with shops, restaurants, and the area is a great place for people watching.
- Montecito Home Tour – Montecito is the stomping grounds of Hollywood’s A-list. Driving alongPark Lane and Bella Vista Drive will produce jaw-dropping views of palatial mansions with ocean views from mountain heights.
- Explore Nearby Cities – Getting out to explore nearby cities is another must if you have time. We highly recommend Solvang. This Danish village is packed with quaint shops and on Wednesdays has a farmer’s market to die for. We also loved Los Olivos.
- Art & History – There are a great many art and historical spots to explore in Santa Barbara. This 116-page on-line Santa Barbara Visitor’s Guide will help you choose which are most appealing to you.
- 101 Free Things to Do – if the preceding 9 things don’t wet your whistle, then here are 101 more things to do. Perhaps best of all, they’re free!
Well, there you go!
If you spend some time clicking around on these links, you are certain to find just the perfect experience for your visit to the great town of Santa Barbara.
As I mentioned above, we love Santa Barbara, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see us back again real soon. We’re not done exploring the area ourselves.
Have fun, and please, come back and share your experiences with in the the comments section below.