The Ultimate Guide to Santa Barbara: Like a Local

Santa Barbara is a quintessential coastal town of Southern California.  The small town atmosphere is inviting and warm.  Just a two hour drive from Los Angeles you'll find this lovely coastal town!   Santa Barbara is an excellent destination for those looking to escape the city grind, amazing food and wine scene and variety of outdoor activities! It's rich Spanish history and architecture draw art and history lovers as well!  


Getting There 

You can drive from LA, it’s a little over 2 hour drive (because there’s always traffic), so it varies!

How many nights

3-5 Nights  We had 3 but it didn't feel like quite enough because we arrived in the evening our first night.  I would have preferred 1 more night.


Spanish Garden Inn 

Another great option if you want something a little more unique is a vacation rental which you can book here: AllTheRoom Santa Barbara Page

View from the Courthouse


Visit the courthouse 

It's a short climb to the top of the tower, and you'll get a view of the whole town with the beautiful mountains in view!  Go early and it won't be too crowded!

Rent beach cruisers

Or take a stroll along the waterfront.  We had a blast cruising along the coast and taking in the scenery!  

Modeling with a Beach Cruiser at the Chromatic Gate

Shopping on State Street

Unique boutiques to explore: Lovebird &  Plum Goods

Chocolate Tasting

 before you hit the tasting rooms try a chocolate tasting!  

Wine Tasting

In The Funk Zone  This cool, hipster spot has about 20 tasting rooms, not to mention a few of Santa Barbara's hottest Restaurants in town!  We enjoyed our tasting at Riverbench Winery.

Winery in the Funk Zone

Day trip to wine country and the Santa Ynez Valley  

We did a bike tour with I Bike Santa Barbara that took us through Los Olivos and Solvang!   We did a 15 mile ride that included a picnic lunch and two tastings.  There are shorter distance options available as well! 

Santa Ynez

Also be sure to check the Santa Barbara Calendar of Events: Santa Barbara offers arts, music and cultural events!  The California Wine Festival was going on during our stay so were able to attend the first event!  The theme was Spanish Nights, with Spanish food, wine and Flamenco dancers!


I usually find my favorite places traveling when I follow my instincts! Don't be afraid to venture off State street to find hidden gems!  If you see a place that looks interesting to you (and your travel companions) or has an atmosphere that draws you in, go there! Or make a reservation for later in your stay!  


Lilac Patisserie a gluten free bakery on state street, we got their housemade granola with berries!  

Cajun Kitchen - another mostly local spot which we loved!  

Goat Tree


Santa Barbara Public Market  a local food hall 

Goa Taco A place we stumbled upon with a cool story!  Pork Belly Tacos were fantastic and my mouth is watering just thinking about them again!  They also had other varieties and vegetarian options!


Loquita Spanish cuisine featuring great Tapas and a solid wine list!  I recommend a table outside!  My favorites dishes were the Croquetas De Pollo and the Chorizo y Pollo Paella! 

Loquita's outdoor patio

The Lark family style dining, with a killer atmosphere (and big portions)

Kanaloa Seafood a super laid back, fun vibe!  Food is delicious and served on paper plates with plastic silverware!  They offer live music Friday and Saturday nights! 

Sweet Treats 

 McConnell's Fine Ice Cream making the world a better place through fine ice cream?  Yes, I'm convinced!  Cookies and Cream was my favorite!

Backyard Bowls for Acai Bowls and smoothies if you're going for a healthier treat!

Santa Barbara has so much to offer for the traveler with many interests! We met a few travelers that come to Santa Barbara annually and I thought we might need to do the same!  I couldn't get enough of this place and I sincerely hope we get to return soon!

Enjoying the awesome spanish style steps at Paseo Nuevo!


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