If you are looking for a place to get away that is close to home and requires no trips to the airport, Santa Barbara is one of my favorite destinations. Only about a three hour drive from most parts of San Diego county and with some beautiful vistas along the way, it will be a weekend you will long remember. Don’t want to drive? Hop on the train and just relax and enjoy the scenery.
Once in Santa Barbara there are many different places to stay, accommodating all budget levels. From five-star resorts like the Four Seasons Resort and the incomparable Bacara Resort and Spa, beautiful family resorts like the Fess Parker’s Double Tree Hotel by the beach, to quaint and comfortable bed and breakfast inns (my favorites are The Cheshire Cat, the Upham Hotel and the Simpson House Inn), there is really something for everyone.
There is SO much to do in Santa Barbara, or of course you can do nothing but relax. Stroll along the boardwalk, soak up the sun at the beach, visit one of the many area spas, take seasonal whale watching cruises, enjoy various water sports, bike rides, horseback riding, and hikes through the beautiful mountain trails. The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens is a must-see and I highly recommend a visit, especially right now when there are rainbow palettes of colors everywhere you look.
The Museum of Natural History is a fun place to visit, and the kids will love it too. Right next door is the famous Santa Barbara Mission, established by Father Junipero Serra in the late 1700s. Tours are available so check for times. Directly across the front lawn of the Mission is one of loveliest rose gardens ever‚Äîa beautiful spot for a picnic lunch. The Santa Barbara Zoo is one of the best smaller zoos I have visited, with lot to do for the children and beautiful grounds to boot.
Downtown Santa Barbara is filled with excitement. State Street and surrounding areas are home to the Museum of Art, incredible shopping (with stores ranging from upscale boutiques to department stores to trendy and well-priced shops), movie theaters, live music and plays, musicals and symphony venues.
Dining is a treat in Santa Barbara and options are plentiful. One of my favorite lunch spots is The Natural Cafe on State Street. La Super Rica is a famous little ultra-casual Mexican restaurant that beckons people from near and far. If you love sushi you have to try Arigato on State Street.
Santa Barbara is a great escape and will make you feel as if you are a million miles away without traveling far. Bon voyage!