Last weekend, we headed to Santa Barbara for a long weekend to celebrate Katherine’s 30th birthday! The weather was absolutely perfect, in the mid 70s, and we tried to fit in as much as we could in the few days we were there. Known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places we have visited. The Spanish influence is seen through out Montecito and Santa Barbara, and it is just so charming. We flew into LAX, rented a car and drove up the coast to Santa Barbara, but you can also fly directly into Santa Barbara. While we were there we stayed in Montecito, and either rode bikes or drove to Santa Barbara (only three miles). Below is our travel guide and our top recommendations for a trip to Santa Barbara:
- Four Seasons The Biltmore, Santa Barbara: Words can’t do justice to this amazing resort, and being there at Christmas-time was even more spectacular! The staff at Four Seasons Santa Barbara really know how to decorate for Christmas. There are decorations and poinsettias everywhere- inside and out, and a live 15-foot tall Christmas tree. The property sprawls across the front of Butterfly Beach, and we were fortunate to have oceanfront views and patios- the perfect spot to have a drink before dinner and watch the sunset. The Four Seasons Santa Barbara is also one of the most charming resorts we have visited. The Spanish influence is seen throughout the resort with hand painted tiles, white stucco and red tiled roofs. The charming Spanish character and details in each room make it feel as though you are in a completely different part of the world. FS Santa Barbara has seen to every detail: Spanish tile heated floors and steam showers in the bathroom, fireplaces that turn on with a flip of a switch and our husbands’ favorite- a 60-inch tv in each room. Not to mention, there is a full spa, heated pool and hot tub, tennis courts and croquet. You never have to leave the property- and you may not want to! In case you decide to venture out we have included some great places to eat and to visit in the area.
- Jeannine’s: Located in Montecito, we walked here most mornings for breakfast. It is a local hot spot, so be sure to get here early for breakfast on the weekend. Worth trying: espresso scone, farmers omelette, wholegrain oatmeal with fresh fruit and crab omelette.
- Bella Vista: Located on property at FS Santa Barbara. You can’t get a better view from any restaurant in Santa Barbara- the patio overlooks the Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed breakfast here on our last morning and drinks one afternoon. You can’t go wrong with a FS breakfast buffet, but the eggs benedict and juice bar are also worth trying!
- The Lark: One of our favorite places to eat, located in the Funk Zone. This place is busy on the weekend, so be sure to make a reservation! The cocktails are fantastic, we wish we would have had time to try them all! The menu is made up of small plates and large plates, to be shared around the table. Must haves: crispy brussel sprouts, hamachi crudo, mary’s roasted chicken and black garlic glazed lamb shank.
- Lucky Penny: Owned by the same group as The Lark, this was a perfect place for lunch after biking from Montecito to Santa Barbara. Wood-fired pizzas, amazing salads and sandwiches, and of course, local beer and wine!
- Honor Bar: Located in Montecito, we walked here for dinner one evening from FS Santa Barbara. A tiny little restaurant, with great food. Must haves: the cheeseburger, brussel sprouts and the fries.
- Lucky’s: Stop here for a drink, or a steak if you are craving one! This is a long time locals favorite. We made a stop at the bar here for martinis and wine before dinner one evening, and had a great time visiting with some locals and the bartender.
- Plow and Angel: Located at San Ysidro Ranch, this was another one of our favorite meals of the trip. The atmosphere was dreamy: on top of the Montecito mountains, we dined outside surrounded by twinkle lights in the trees and some of the best food of the trip! Must haves: abalone to start, chicken tagine, halibut and …..brussel sprouts!
- McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream– The best! Try the peppermint stick for a mind-blowing taste experience
- Brophy Bros.– On the pier at the wharf, it’s a great spot for a seafood lunch. Fish and chips, crab cakes, and fish sandwich are must haves!
- Butterfly Beach: This beach is located steps away from the resort. It is beautiful! The water was too cold for us to get in, but there were many people there enjoying surfing, swimming and stand up paddle boarding (with wet suits on!). One morning we saw dolphins playing in the water right outside of the hotel.
- Rent Bikes: We rented our bikes from FS Santa Barbara and biked a beautiful, three mile oceanfront trail from the resort to Downtown Santa Barbara. There is no better way to explore the city and get some fresh air and exercise!
- Pool at Four Seasons: The pool at the resort is tucked away and very private. It is heated and has underwater music! There is also a mineral whirlpool and a hot tub available. As at any other Four Seasons property, the pool staff wait on you hand and foot and bring around yummy snacks:)
- Urban Wine Trail: The Santa Barbara area is known for making great wine, but wine country is about an hour drive outside the city. Most of the wineries also have their wine available in various tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara, which is where we decided to do some wine tasting. The patio at Santa Barbara Wine Collective is a great place to enjoy a wine flight.
- Santa Barbara Public Market: This reminds us of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. So many artisan and local food vendors and a great wine bar!
- Funk Zone: A revitalized area of town with restaurants, bars, art galleries, shops and wine tasting rooms. This is a short bike ride from downtown, or hop on a pedicab!
- Visit Stearns Wharf: Walk the pier and have lunch at Brophy Bros.
- Santa Barbara Zoo: This is something that we didn’t have time to do, but would love to see during our next visit!