Santa Barbara, California Guide
Tori, a Homeaway staffer, gives us a tour around Santa Barbara
One of my favorite cities is Santa Barbara, California. I had the good fortune to live here for five glorious years. It is located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles (2 hours with LA traffic) along the central coast and has a population ~90,000. This beautiful Spanish style town has been nicknamed the ‘American Riviera’ because of its warm Mediterranean like climate and the lush Santa Ynez Mountains that rise to 4,000 feet providing a scenic backdrop to the city.
Santa Barbara is located 45 minutes from Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez wine valley, which is well known for its Pinot Noirs and the movie ‘Sideways’, which was filmed in this region. There are lots of great wine tours including bike tours, horseback tours, off-roading jeep tours, and limo vans. If you want one that’s reasonable or are looking to customize your own, I’d suggest RockStar. If you’re looking for a set tour then check out Captain Jack’s Tours. Some of my favorite wineries to taste include: Alma Rosa, Sanford, Rideau, Lucas & Lewellen, and Foley. If you don’t have a full day to spare or don’t want to leave Santa Barbara then check out the Urban Wine Trail for walking and biking guides to the downtown tasting rooms.
Another thing that’s a must-do is see a show at the outdoor Amphitheatre, The Santa Barbara Bowl. This is an amazing venue holding almost 4,500 people and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. They bring in some really impressive shows, plus there is a beer garden and amazing sunset views.
The Channel Islands National Park is a short boat ride away and has some really cool sea caves that are great for kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. You can also camp and hike on the islands, and in certain seasons there are whale watching trips. In order to book a tour to the Channel Islands, check out The Channel Island Outfitters, their boats leave directly from the Santa Barbara harbor.
There are some fabulous restaurants in Santa Barbara for a nice dinner check out Arigato, which is located downtown on State Street and has amazing sushi. The Palace Grill is a lively Cajun style restaurant that is great for groups, has amazing service, and is always entertaining. Another favorite is Brophy Brothers which is on the harbor and has great seafood!