Guys, I have a confession to make. I’ve never really been to Santa Barbara. Yeah sure, I’ve crashed a couple of parties on IV’s infamous Sabado back in my college days, but I’ve never really checked out what the SB area has to offer. With this in mind and my trip to Austin falling through last minute, I quickly opened my Airbnb app and found myself booking three days in “The American Riviera” in a studio at the base of Inspiration Point.
My Home for the Next Couple of Days
According to my host, the studio I stayed at is a part of a historical rustic adobe house that was designed by Ken Weber, the lead architect for Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. The Disney kid in me was nerding out. The adobe studio was the perfect resting place for my mini trip. Only 15 minutes away from Downtown Santa Barabara and conveniently steps away from the Tunnel Road trailhead which is basically the base point to all the memorable Santa Barbara. If you’re staying in the mountains, make sure you have a good navigation because the roads are like the ones you see in Mazda commercials, super windy and all kinds of confusing.
On a Mission
After getting settled in, I was on a mission. To the Mission Santa Barbara! Founded 200 years ago, this historical landmark is still an active parish today. I took the time to explore the beautiful grounds and museum. I enjoy California history a lot so I loved checking out the Native Chumash tools and reproductions of rooms during mission life 200 years ago. Fun fact: The Mission Santa Barbara is the burial place of Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island aka the woman who inspired the story of Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Yay for Happy Hour
My first meal in Santa Barbara was at Lure Fish House for happy hour. The restaurant has a boujee beach vibe so this spot is for all the ladies who really want to be mermaids. You’ll love the decor. Happy Hour is every weekday between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM and every Sunday between 11:30 AM and 6:00 PM. I got a beer, fish taco and chargrilled oysters. THE OYSTERS MAN. Those buttery bad boys took me back to my first chargrilled oyster experience New Orleans. The bartenders are totally chill and welcoming. Lure Fish House is a tad far from all the Downtown happenings, but it’s totally worth it for the happy hour menu.
Inspiration Point? More Like Precipitation Point
Day two kicked off with a hike to Inspiration Point. Well, I attempted to at least. The hike started off great, it was nice and cool. The incline was making my glutes do some serious work. You start on a paved service road and it takes a mile until you hit the Jesusita Trail for Inspiration Road. I saw some fog in the distance and brushed it off. HA, that wasn’t fog. I totally misidentified a rain cloud for fog. Long story short, rain won that day and soaked me from head to toe. Luckily, my Airbnb’s convenient location saved me from what could’ve been a terrible cold. Pro-tip: Check the weather -_-
I headed off to Cajun Kitchen Cafe to grab some brunch. Santa Barbara totally has the New Orleans food vibe coming in, maybe it’s because of all the fresh seafood? Anyways, I ordered shrimp and grits cause a cajun cafe ain’t cajun if it doesn’t have good shrimp and grits. By far, this was the best I ever had. Andouille sausage can hypnotize you that’s for sure. I totally wish I had room for beignets, but my stomach would’ve gave me some serious consequences if I ordered them.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is definitely a gem and should not be overlooked! It’s definitely no LACMA or MoMA, but their pieces are still pretty awesome. They have notable paintings from Matisse, Van Gogh and Renoir. I especially enjoyed the collection, David Wiesner and the Art of Storytelling, an award-winning artist known for children’s books. If you watched Reading Rainbow as a kid, you’ve heard of this guy. He’s the one that wrote the book with all the giant fruits in vegetables landing in town.
Did I Take the Elevator for this view? Guilty.
I finally got my Santa Barbara 360 view without the rain at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The interior and exterior are stunning. If I were to do a courthouse wedding, this place is #1 on the list. The Spanish architecture makes it a great photo spot. Just make sure you don’t miss the view from on top of the clock tower. You get a view of the mountains and the ocean that’s worth every step.
Strolling on State Street
State Street has tons of cute boutiques for fashionistas, quirky Californian gift shops and lots of restaurants. Santa Barbara has my favorite Heavenly Couture for affordable trendy clothes. My favorite stop on State Street was McConnell’s. The ice cream there is soooooo creamy. I wish I had the time to try all the flavors, but Banana Salted Caramel and Strawberry Rhubarb was just what I needed. If you’re not down to drive all the way to SB to try this luscious spot, I’m sure DTLA’s Grand Central Market McConnell’s tastes just the same.
Last Supper at Los Agaves
The best meal I’ve had in Santa Barbara was at Los Agaves. As a SoCal native, I love me some Mexican food. The Agave Burrito is uh-mazing. A shrimp and fish burrito slathered in this spicy and creamy sauce. This is what dreams are made of. They also have blood oraange margaritas! Pro-tip: try to make it before 5 pm to beat the rush. This spot gets packed quick!
Can’t Leave Without Souvenirs
If you’re looking for some souvenirs to take home, swing by Chocolate Maya for some artisan chocolates. They have unique confectioneries and flavors. Just make sure you keep it cool! So, if you’re stopping by the Camarillo Outlets don’t leave the chocolates in your car. Keep them with you. The shop will give you a bag just in case. You can also stop by Whole Foods and pick up Santa Barbara Pistachio Company Pistachios. Pistachios won’t taste the same after you have these. They’re are hella packed with flavor! I got them in Hickory Smoke, Onion Garlic Roast, and Chile Lemon.
Santa Barbara is such a great city to visit. Lots of food, sweet people and sights to see, if you haven’t crossed this place off your list make it happen! It’s only a short 2 hour drive from LA and you can totally make this a day trip or weekend trip.
What are your favorite day trips or mini vacations? Share your spots with me I’d love to check them out! Be sure to follow me on the ‘gram for more trip coverage @joellemeetsworld