Santa Barbara is less than 100 miles from hyper-metropolitan Los Angeles but differs vastly from its huge neighbor to the south. With a temperate climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is perfect for a day trip from LA, with its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices, that enables the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy the sort of cultural and social amenities which are usually found only in much larger cities.
Although the common perception of Santa Barbara is as a playground for the rich and famous, the reality is that the average income is only slightly higher than California as a whole. Notable for its California Mission-style architecture (a long-standing local ordinance ensures that all commercial construction follow the Mission theme, which results in a plethora of red-tiled roofs and faux adobe supermarkets), local residents are intensely proud of their city's roots and traditions, and a number of hugely popular festivals throughout the year celebrate the many cultures found in the city.
Downtown's main street is State St which runs roughly north–south. Upper State St (north of Ortega St) has most of the museums.
Santa Barbara Visitors Center, 1 Garden Street, downtown, ☎ 805-965-3021, . 9AM (10AM on Su) - 5PM (4PM Nov-Jan). Has information about Santa Barbara, including maps, pricing and hours of attractions, restaurant guides, bus and waterfront shuttle schedules.
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (IATA: SBA), located in the neighboring town of Goleta, provides access to LAX through a shuttle service that flies between the two airports several times per day. There is also service to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver and other destinations. Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District's Route 11 bus links the airport with downtown Santa Barbara.
The Greyhound station is downtown, on the corner of Carrillo and Chapala, near the local bus transit center. The Santa Barbara AirBus  operates several times per day from Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria to LAX.
There is only one major highway in and out of Santa Barbara, US 101; downtown Santa Barbara can be accessed via the Garden St. exit, while the beaches can be found off the Cabrillo Blvd. off ramp. Traffic patterns are the opposite from the famous Los Angeles grid lock, as the 101 can come to a grinding halt on Sunday afternoons.
The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (SBMTD)  runs buses all over Santa Barbara proper, and neighboring Goleta and Montecito. Routes and fares are on their website.
The SBMTD also runs shuttle bus services along State St between downtown Sola St and the waterfront, and along the waterfront, leaving every 15 or 30 minutes between 9AM and 6PM (till 10PM F-Sa in summer). Fare is 25 cents; get a free shuttle transfer to switch between the two shuttles.
Taxis are extremely expensive.
Along the waterfront, many businesses offer bicycle or inline skate rentals for exploring the beach areas, and "rickshaw" taxis are also common.
Budget and Hertz car rental outlets are present at the airport terminal, and several other rental agencies are located in Santa Barbara.
Mission Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna St., (from downtown State St., turn east onto Mission St. and follow signs pointing toward the Mission), (805) 682-4149, . Self-guided tours daily 9AM-4:30PM. Known as "The Queen of the Missions," Santa Barbara's "Old Mission" is a superb example of California's Franciscan Spanish architecture. The tenth California Mission to be constructed, Mission Santa Barbara today is both a scenic wonder and a fine anthropological study of original native culture in the surrounding area. Well worth a visit, note the adjacent pottery kiln and tanning vat ruins. Adults $5.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol (follow signs from nearby Santa Barbara Mission), (805) 682-4711, . Daily 10AM-5PM. This large, well-presented museum is - literally - a hidden treasure. Highlights in the eleven exhibit halls include regional natural history, a life-size Blue Whale skeleton, and a rare skeleton of a pony-sized "pygmy mammoth." $10 for adults; free on the last Sunday of every month except September.
Stearns Wharf, end of State Street along the Waterfront, . This picturesque 1872 wharf - the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco - has lots of history. Badly damaged several times by fire, it has been repeatedly rebuilt and today features more than a dozen shops and restaurants, and one of the best views in California from the end of its pier. You may see brown pelicans at the end of the wharf. It was once owned by Hollywood legend James Cagney. Free.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street, (805) 963-4364, . Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. A remarkably well-provisioned museum considering the size of the town, Santa Barbara's main art museum features a strong collection of Roman antiquities, as well as an impressive lineup of classical European and modern art. Frequently rotated exhibitions are among the strongest in California. Adults: $9; suggested donation on Sunday.
Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St, . M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4:30PM. Guided tours, M-Sa 2pm and M, Tu, F 10:30am. Built in 1929 and the grandest building in the town. A working courthouse, this Spanish-Moorish castle has frescoes, murals and Tunisian tilework. The El Mirador Bell Tower provides great views of the city and the bay. Free.
Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 East De la Guerra St, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Free.
Presidio of Santa Barbara, 123 East Canon Perdido St (a block off State St, corner of East Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara Sts), . Every day except major holidays, 10:30AM-4:30PM. A military fortress founded in 1782, only parts of which remain. Adults $5, seniors (62+) $4, children 16 & under free.
Karpeles Museum, 21 West Anapamu St. (half a block from State St), (805) 962-5322, . W-Su, noon-4PM. The Karpeles Library is the world's largest private holding of important original manuscripts & documents. Among the items on permanent display in the museum is an original Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence, a replica of the globe used by Columbus (sans the Western Hemisphere), handwritten scores by a dozen leading composers, and the computer guidance system used on the first Apollo lander flight to the moon. Free.
Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Dr, (805) 963-5695, . Every day, 10AM-5PM, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and some private events. Small but well-represented with over 600 animals, the zoo has provided entertainment for all ages since 1963 and is the largest zoo between Los Angeles and San Francisco (unless you count the Monterey Aquarium). Adults 13-59: $14. Children 2-13 and Seniors 60+: $10. Children under 2: Free.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road (Follow signs from Old Mission), ☎ 805 682-4726, . 9AM-5PM Nov-Feb, 9AM-6PM Mar-Oct. Located on 65 acres in the foothills just above the city, the Garden features exquisite exhibits of California native plants displayed in beautiful landscaped settings. Walk along a meadow, through a canyon and redwood forest, across a historic dam, and along ridge tops that offer sweeping views of the Channel Islands. Established in 1926 as an educational and scientific institution, it is the oldest botanic garden in California dedicated to the study, conservation, and display of native flora. $8 adults, $6 seniors/teens/military with id, $4 children 2-12, under 2 free.
Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, 653 Paseo Nuevo, ☎ 805-966-5373, . Tu-Sa 11AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. CAF is a non-profit, non-collecting institution dedicated to exhibiting the highest quality of contemporary art while recognizing "the artists of tomorrow," and was founded in 1976 by artists and art supporters seeking a venue dedicated solely to contemporary art. What began as a grassroots, artist-run organization with nominal funding now serves as the leading contemporary arts presenter in Central California. CAF offers its innovative education and exhibition programming to the region primarily free of charge. Foundations and individuals keep CAF active with opportunities for artists, children, and adults to experience all the visual and performing arts have to offer.Free.
Reagan Ranch Center Exhibit Gallery, 217 State Street, downtown (next to Amtrak Station), ☎ 805-957-1980, . Tu, Th 11AM-4:30PM. Features original Reagan Ranch artifacts matched with state-of-the-art, interactive, multimedia exhibits that highlight the history of Ronald Reagan’s quarter-century at Rancho del Cielo and the accomplishments of his presidency. Over six hours of dynamic multimedia exhibits provide access to exclusive speeches, interviews, radio addresses, and original video presentations. The centerpiece is a 28-foot-long interactive “timeline” that gives users the ability to explore the “Western White House” during the 1980s. Beginning in May 2012, the Galleries will be open Monday-Friday from 12PM-5PM.Free.
Although Santa Barbara is an atypical coastal town, it offers the typical Southern California variety of outdoor activities, from surfing to whale-watching.
Beaches, along the waterfront. Santa Barbara's most popular beach, East Beach, is a pristine stretch of blindingly white sand framed by postcard quality palm trees, surrounding hills and nearby harbor. For less crowded beachcombing, try nearby Leadbetter Beach, or further up the road, isolated Arroyo Burro (known to locals as Hendry's Beach,) where dog lovers bring their pets to frolic in a no-leashes-needed surfside dog park. Hendry's Beach is also home to a nudist beach, where one can often see a frolicking nude man pass by. Even more isolated is Butterfly Beach, tucked away in a cove beneath the high-toned Biltmore Hotel in Montecito.
Golf, Santa Barbara has numerous private and public golf courses located in and around the city. Hidden Oaks, Twin Lakes, and Ocean Meadows are nine-hole courses that provide budget prices for a round of golf. For those wishing to play 18 holes without spending a lot, the Santa Barbara Golf Club, located at 3500 McCaw, provides reasonably priced rounds. For those wishing to spend more, Sandpiper Golf Course, located north of Goleta on Hollister, or Rancho San Marcos, located about 15 miles up the 154, provide a world class golf experience.
Hiking, from the Mesa to the Santa Ynez Mountains, the unique geography of Santa Barbara provides amazing opportunities to see panoramic views and abundant wildlife. Hiking guides and maps are easily obtained at any local bookstore, well-equipped newsstand, or selected stores in tourist-heavy locations such as downtown. Examples include the Douglas Family Preserve, a great off-leash open space that often serves as the backdrop for numerous weddings, and East Camino Cielo Road off of Highway 154, which has several spots one can park and find a little trail to hike on, or even just sit and enjoy the view.
Eagle Paragliding, (805) 968-0980, . Santa Barbara offers year-round flying, and some of the best flying in the United States. You can fly solo on your first day at Elings Park. Tandem Flights are also available from the Mountains, the Beach, or the Elings Park Training Hill.
Surfing. There are numerous beaches in the area fit for surfing and several companies that rent surfboards. Although the surf tends to be much smaller in the summer, it is perfect for beginners. There are also several nice long board breaks that are suitable year round.
Santa Barbara Pub Crawls, (new meeting spot each week), . Weekly pub crawls along Santa Barbara's State Street, stopping at the best bars and clubs downtown has to offer. $30 for 6 bars, 8 drinks, and no lines or covers ALL night. Check the website for weekly meeting spot!$30.
Wine Tasting. Santa Barbara has a number of wineries all within blocks of downtown. Most wineries have tasting rooms and are open to the public. The Santa Barbara back country also has a great collection of wineries, most of which are part of the Vintner's Association . Just pop up to Solvang or Buellton and enjoy. The region takes responsible consumption very seriously, and since the February 2008 launch of the CHP Designated Driver Program, DUI checkpoints have been frequent. Consider hiring a limo or signing on for a wine tour.
Wine Tours, Daily wine tasting excursions depart from most area hotels, and you can pick from several different approaches. The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle (888) 8-WINERY,  offers a flexible day aboard deluxe shuttles. Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours offer a rugged outing in open air jeeps. Sustainable Vine (805)698-3911.  focuses on the producers employing sustainable practices.
An easy walking tour. Find some free parking on the side streets from Cabrillo Boulevard after passing State Street (i.e. on Bath Street and Yanonali St). Then walk on the sidewalk or the beach to State Street. At the intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street you will find the pier which will give you great views of the city. After walking on the pier, take State Street up past the train station. Shops and restaurants line up State Street up and down providing a great visitor experience. Take a right on West Carillo St and go one block and then take a left on Anacapa St. This should get you to the Santa Barbara Courthouse (details above under See) opposite the public library Main Branch, where you can enjoy the pleasant views from its tower. Next, walk up the street to Anapamu St and take a left. This will put you back on State Street. If you're not tired yet you can keep walking up State Street to Mission St and take a right. If you follow the street to Laguna St and take a left and after three blocks take a right on Los Olivos. This will get you to the Santa Barbara Mission. After visiting the the mission and the delightful rose garden in front of the Mission, you can walk back to Cabrillo Boulevard or just take the shuttle back to the waterfront.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Held annually towards the end of January/beginning of February, the film festival welcomes some of the biggest names in Hollywood with awards ceremonies and world premier screenings.
Channel Islands Kayaking (Channel Islands National Park), . Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.
Sanguis, 8 Ashley Avenue, ☎ 805-845-0920, . by appt. Santa Barbara Winery
Santa Barbara is a shopping paradise. State Street alone offers more than a mile stretch of everything from trendy boutiques to popular chain stores like Borders Books and Restoration Hardware. El Paseo (812 State St., downtown) is an upscale mall that bills itself as "California's First Shopping Center," while lushly themed and nearby Paseo Nuevo (651 Paseo Nuevo) offers Nordstrom's, Macy's, and more than 50 specialty shops. Whatever you're looking for, you'll likely find it on State Street. There is plenty of parking downtown with the first 75 minutes free in most lots (except at the beach). A good bet is the parking structure on Ortega.
The Italian Pottery Outlet, 929 State St, 877-496-5599, . A family owned business, it has been in this location for more than 15 years. It carries the largest collection of Italian pottery in the west and at discounted prices.
Latin-themed dishes are, quite logically, the order of the day in
Santa Barbara, and the town's Mexican food ranks with any other town in
California. The town's elevated cultural status attracts high-powered
chefs from all over the world, and the selection and sheer variety of
local fare is quite astonishing for a community of 90,000. Here
are just a few of Santa Barbara's culinary choices:
La Super Rica Taqueria, 622 N. Milpas St., (805) 963-4940. Once tabbed "Best Mexican Food in the Country" by the New York Times. You won't come here for the atmosphere. There is no sign on the building, and seating is first come-first served, but you'll be happy you stood in the long line forming outside the door once you taste what's served up here. Julia Child claimed this her favorite Mexican restaurant (or even all-time favorite place to eat, according to some accounts), saying, "Everything is incredibly fresh. The salsas are wonderful." $5-$15.
The Natural Café and juice bar, 508 State St., 5892 Hollister Ave, Goleta, ☎ (805) 962-9494 (email@example.com), . Mon-Sun 11AM-9PM. Outdoor, sidewalk dining that is healthy and good. If there is a vegan/vegetarian in the group, they will be happy here. Part of a small regional chain.
Woody's BBQ, 5112 Hollister Ave. Serving delicious BBQ in Santa Barbara for 19 years and voted Santa Barbara's Favorite BBQ For 19 Years In A Row!
Super Cuca's Taquería,2030 Cliff Dr., 966-3863; 626 W. Micheltorena St., Big burritos, vegetarian recommended even for those die-hard carnivores.
Rudy's Restaurant, Six in town, one in Paseo Nuevo. Very good tamales, chimichangas and burritos. Charming family-owned business.
The Habit, 216 S. Milpas St., 962-7472; 628 State St., 892-5400. Stop by for a sidewalk burger.
Panino, 834 Santa Barbara St., Good variety of sandwiches.
Los Arroyos, 14 W. Figueroa St., off State, 962-5541; 1280 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, popular and very good Mexican food.
Cajun Kitchen, 901 Chapala St., 1924-A De la Vina St. Very popular breakfast and lunch place. The best breakfast in town. Delicious sausages. Good price.
Palazzio's, 1026 State St., Generous portions of pastas and salads. One entree and a half salad is enough to feed up to three people. Every fifteen minutes waiters walk around with freshly baked garlic rolls that are to die for.
Arigato Sushi, 1225 State St., Unbelievably good sushi.
East Sushi & Thai, 1208 State St. Across the street from Arigato, very good and a lot less crowded than Arigato.
Cold Spring Tavern, 5995 Stagecoach Rd., Stop for lunch on your way out to wine taste -- off the 154. Great location and great food. Fun atmosphere on weekend nights with live music. Dinner is more expensive, $17-29.
Brophy Bros., Breakwater at the Harbor, great seafood, known for clam chowder, the setting cannot be beat.
Montecito Café, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito. Try the coconut cake.
Pascucci, 729 State St., Santa Barbara's best affordable Italian food.
Café Buenos Aires,1316 State St., Serves the tastiest parts of the tastiest animals. Good Argentinian beef; the empanadas are great. Chicken, pork, all good. Definite focus on meat here. Good mojito's. The outdoor dining is nice in almost all weathers-it has heaters although not every seat feels the warmth. Pretty courtyard with lighted fountain (the water is a bit dirty and it splashes on the tables next to it). Live Argentinian band some nights, beautiful music.
Chuck's of Hawaii, 3888 State St., 113 Harbor Way, (805) 564-1200, A great cut of beef. Try anything with artichokes.
The Palace Grill, 8 E. Cota St. This place celebrates the cuisine of New Orleans. It has a fun, yet laid back atmosphere with great service. Try the Caribbean coconut shrimp!
Downey's Restaurant, 1305 State St., Santa Barbara. One of the best restaurants in Santa Barbara. Excellent wine pairings.
Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, 1260 Channel Dr., Montecito. When on an expense account, grab brunch here.
Elements, 129 E. Anapamu St. Great view of Courthouse with innovative food. Lunch is mid-range, however, dinner is more on the expensive side. Element's has been featured twice on the Food Network!
In addition to Santa Barbara wine tasting, the region is also full of bars. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your preference), many of them cater to crowds of students from the nearby university. Thursday nights are the official college night of downtown bars at which time the drinks are particularly cheap. Really any bar on lower State Street is Fun on Thursday nights to relive those college days.
Rooftop Bar at Canary Hotel, Carillo St. and Chapala. Top of Canary Hotel. Great sunset bar as you overlook the mountains, the mesa and the harbor. Very nice. Hotel Guests only.
The James Joyce, 513 State Street. (805) 962-2688. Open 10AM-2AM daily. Yes, it's an Irish pub, or "A Traditional Irish Bar." Free peanuts, a fireplace and dixieland jazz bands on the weekend. Guinness flows freely.
Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant 18 E Ortega St, Sportsbar with Irish music. Good Lambstew.
Santa Barbara Brewing Co. 501 State St., Microbrewery, TVs. Decent food.
Sharkeez, State Street. This sportsbar has a lot of TVs. Well drinks are usually around $1 on Thursdays.
Elsie's, 117 De La Guerra. Neighborhood beer and wine joint with good music. Meet the locals out back in the outdoor smoking area or over rounds of pool inside.
Wilcat Lounge, 15 W Ortega St. Danceclub.
Joe's, State Street. Stiffest drinks on State St. Have a couple at the beginning of the night.
Roy's Carrillo and State. Good "off State St." bar. Serves great food late at night, focus on local ingredients. Price fix menu with everything at around $25.
Bogart's Cafe, 1114 State St #14 (at E Figueroa St), ☎ (805) 965-8001. Tucked away. Serves a good pour.
SOhO Restaurant and Music Club 1221 State St. Jazz/live music club above Victoria Court.
Santa Barbara has a huge number of hotels and motels, ranging from Motel 6 to Fess Parker's astonishing Doubletree Resort. One thing you won't find here is dives. Prices are before tax, allow another 10% taxes.
Motel 6 Santa Barbara - Beach, 443 Corona Del Mar, +1-805 564-1392, . Basic simple hotel room with bed, private bath, small pool, and TV. Has air conditioning, but noisy in window units. Friendly staff. About 75 yards to the beach. $91.99-$164. This was the world's first Motel 6.
Motel 6 Santa Barbara - Goleta, 5897 Calle Real, Goleta, +1-805 964-3596, . Located on US 101 at Fairview Ave in Goleta, which is to the west of Santa Barbara proper and closer to UCSB and the airport. $75.99-78.99.
Presidio Motel, 1620 State Street, "+1-805" 963-1355, . This sweet motel is run by a charming young couple, with a foible for mid-century design. Free wireless internet and some books on design or art are likely to be part of the rooms set up, as much as TV and a coffee and muffin in the morning. $109+ for king-size bed.
Santa Barbara Tourist Hostel, 134 Chapala Street, +1-805 963-0154, . Amazingly, an inexpensive backpacker two blocks from the beach and one block from the State Street buzz. Basic breakfast and wifi internet in the lobby included. Bed in a shared room $25-45, private double room with shared bath $69-125, private double room with private bath $79-139, rates in all cases a function of day (weekends, summer, festivals are more expensive).
Sandpiper Lodge, 3525 State Street, . Budget hotel lodging accommodations for guests seeking golf, romantic or weekend coastal getaways near State Street attractions.
Avania Inn of Santa Barbara, 128 Castillo St., . A Newly Remodeled hotel featuring Pillow Top Beds, 32" LCD HD TV's. Free Breakfast, Free Parking, Free Internet. Located 1 block from the Beaches.
Brisas Del Mar, Inn at the Beach, 223 Castillo St., . A Mediterranean-style villa two blocks from the beaches and yacht harbor.
Best Western Encina Lodge & Suites, 2220 Bath Street., . Offers lodging accommodations including suites and apartments with small luxury hotel amenities and bed and breakfast charm near local tourist attractions.
Coast Village Inn, 1188 Coast Village Road, +1-800 257-5131, . Located in the tony Montecito area on the city's east side. Breakfast included. Basic room $169, Suite with kitchen $259, deluxe suite with two bedrooms and kitchen $469. Midweek rates as low as $99, also check for internet discounts of about 20% off. Take 101 to the Coast Village Road exit.
Colonial Beach Inn, 206 Castillo Street, . Located near the beach, Amtrak Station, golf and wineries. Offers lodging accommodations reminiscent of the romantic American South and a variety of hotel packages.
Country Inn by the Sea, 128 Castillo Street, +1-805-963-4471 . Located 1 block to the waterfront and beach. King beds, Jacuzzi Rooms, Queen Beds and 2 Double Beds. Free breakfast and cookies and milk every evening. Heated Pool & Spa, his and hers Sauna.
Inn by the Harbor, 433 W. Montecito Street, . The Inn by the Harbor is an enchanting Spanish colonial hotel and resort offering vacation packages from wine country to whale watching. Extended stay lodging is also available.
The Eagle Inn , 232 Natoma Avenue, +1-805-965-3586, . Santa Barbara bed and breakfast. King or queen size bed, private bath, whirlpool tub, fireplace, balcony/patio, high speed Internet, etc. Free on-site parking, complimentary continental breakfast.
Hampton Inn Goleta, 5665 Hollister Ave., +1-805-681-9800, goleta.hamptoninn.com. Hampton Inn, located in the heart of Old Town Goleta less than 10 miles from Santa Barbara, offers king and queen hotel rooms and suites including complimentary beverages and breakfast.
Holiday Inn Santa Barbara Goleta Hotel, 5650 Calle Real, +1-805 964-6241, . The usual corporate range rooms with twin beds, queen beds, and king beds. $117 per night with advance purchase, $129 regular, $141 with breakfast.
Hotel Santa Barbara, 533 State Street, +1-800 549-9869, . "European-style" hotel smack in the middle of Santa Barbara's busy downtown shopping area. $129-$219, ask about midweek specials.
Old Yacht Club Inn, 431 Corona Del Mar Drive, ☎ (805) 962-1277, . 14 Suite Bed and Breakfast on East Beach in Santa Barbara. Charming Inn with Fireplaces, Whirlpool Tubs & Bicycles only steps to the Beautiful Santa Barbara Wine Valley. $169 - $459.
Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo Street, Phone: 805-884-0300 Fax: 805-884-8153, . A boutique hotel near State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Amenities include function space for meetings and wedding receptions, spa service, and dog friendly accommodations.
Cheshire Cat Inn, 36 West Valerio St, ☎ 805-569-1610, . checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 12Noon. The Cheshire Cat Inn features three stately Queen Anne Victorians, an elegant Coach House, three cottages, all surrounded by lush flower-filled gardens and patios. The Inn is located in a residential area, just one block from Santa Barbara’s main shopping street. Each of the sunny guest rooms and cottages is uniquely furnished and ranges from the elegant to the whimsical. Some are larger split-level junior suites with private balconies; others have in-room Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. Amenities may include TV/DVD, ironing boards and refrigerators. All the rooms have private baths and telephones. Breakfast is served daily and is included in the rate. $179-$400.
El Encanto Hotel and Garden Villas, 1900 Lasuen Road, +1-800 393-5117, Fax: +1-805 687-3903, . Good views and a favorite with the glitterati, like Diane Lane, Barbara Streisand, and Sharon Stone.
Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort, 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, +1-800 879-2929, +1-805 564-4333, . 24-acre oceanside resort. Starting around $255 for a two queen bedded room, up to $735 for a Presidential Suite with whirlpool bath. Add $25 for breakfast for two adults. Enter off Calle Puerto Vallarta.
Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore, 1260 Channel Drive, Tel +1-805 969-2261 Fax +1-805 565-8323, . Spanish Colonial with red roof tiles and adobe on Butterfly Beach in exclusive Montecito.
Harbor View Inn, 28 W. Cabrillo Blvd., . Boutique 4-diamond family friendly beachfront hotel. All rooms and suites have a patio or balcony.
Montecito Inn, 1295 Coast Village Road, . Boutique lodging located two blocks away from Montecito's Butterfly Beach. Originally built in 1928 by Charlie Chaplin as an escape to paradise for his closest friends.
Pacifica Suites, 5490 Hollister Avenue, +1-800 338-6722, Fax: +1-805 683-4121, . All-suite hotel adjacent to the beautifully restored Sexton House, an 1880's architectural landmark. Meeting space and conference facilities. $169-$209.
San Ysidro Ranch, 900 San Ysidro Lane, (805) 565-1700, . "Hotel ranch," with room, suite and villa accommodations, dining, day trips to local beaches and wineries, guided hiking.
Simpson House Inn, 121 East Arrellaga St., +1-800 676-1280, . A historic Italianate Victorian manor considered one of the best preserved and restored homes of its era in California. Guestrooms inside the estate house, private English style cottages and four rooms in the Carriage House. Landscaped gardens, wood-burning fireplaces and personalized service. All rates include daily gourmet breakfast, evening wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres and complimentary parking. Rates from $235 to $615.
Mahakankala Buddhist Center, 508 Brinkerhoff Ave, +1 805-563-6000, . Offers relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.
Although Santa Barbara is somewhat geographically isolated, with
only one major route in or out of the city, the surrounding area is
rife with fascinating side-trips.
Santa Barbara Wine Country
Goleta, a city just to the west and part of the contiguous urban area of Santa Barbara, is home to University of California, Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.
Wine Country. North on US 101 in the Solvang region.
Los Olivos. About 50 miles north of Santa Barbara on Highway 154. This is a cute little one horse town with about 20 local winery tasting rooms lined up on Grand st. A great place to go wine tasting without having to drive a zillion miles from winery to winery.
Solvang. Located approximately 40 miles north of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang is a gingerbread town. What must have started several decade back as a small "Little Denmark" tourist trap has grown into an entire town and surrounding community obsessed with its own overwhelming Danishness. Every sign, roof, light post and pothole is Danish-themed here, and reports of wandering bands of drunken men in plastic Viking helmets are firmly founded in reality. Take Highway 101 north/west to Buellton (the home of the original Pea Soup Anderson's), exit at the Highway 246 offramp and follow the destination signs to Solvang. If you're up for a twisty drive, take Highway 154 (also known as the San Marcos Pass) back to Santa Barbara at sunset and enjoy an unforgettable view.
Lake Cachuma. Beautiful Lake Cachuma Recreation Facility is located approximately 20 miles north of Santa Barbara and offers RV hookups, tent camping, and yurt camping. The Lake also provides fishing, boating, sailing, and lake cruising. No swimming and/or body contact with the water is allowed because the lake is used as a reservoir by the city of Santa Barbara. The Lake's location along highway 154 (the San Marcos Pass) makes it an excellent rest stop on the way up to Solvang from Santa Barbara.
El Capitan Canyon, 11560 Calle Real, tel +1 866 352-2729, . An interesting combination of rustic cabin camping and high-end spa. $145-$345, about 5% lower in Nov-April. A few kilometers west of Santa Barbara on Highway 101 near El Capitan State Beach.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!