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A great long weekend getaway from either San Francisco (5 hr drive or 1 hr flight) or LA (2 hrs). If you're driving from LA, take PCH (Rt 1) up the coast through Malibu and Oxnard before hooking up with 101. If you're on a road trip from SF, also consider taking PCH and stopping in Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and at Hearst Castle on your way down. Santa Barbara is the perfect destination to relax on the beach, enjoy delicious food, hike, and wine taste. Plus, it's one of the most beautiful places in the country! Here's a list of my top restaurants and activities I accumulated during my two years living in SB during graduate school.
- Brunch at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach - very busy. I believe you can still call ahead for a reservation. Request a table outside.
- Breakfast at Jeannine's is always solid. I prefer their location in Montecito, but downtown is good too.
- Cajun Kitchen is another good option for breakfast. Diner like.
- Best burrito at Super Cucas. Best tacos at La Super-Rica, a SB staple. Both are very casual and down and dirty.
- Jane - my favorite for dinner. Don't miss the coconut cake!
- Try to get to a farmer's market! The best I've ever been to. The one on Saturday was my fave.
- If you're looking for pizza, I like Olio Pizzeria downtown.
- Sushi: Arigato
- Milk & Honey is delicious too! Tapas style
- You must go to McConnell's for ice cream
- The Natural Cafe is always a solid option for lunch
- I love Los Arroyos for sit down Mexican dinner. Very casual but good.
- Sama Sama - delicious Indonesian food. This restaurant is one of my new faves in town.
- The French Press and Handlebar are my two favorite coffee shops
- Hike Inspiration Point. Gaviota Peak and 7 Falls are great too. You can poke around on Santa Barbara Hikes.
- Drive up Rt 154 from Santa Barbara to Cold Spring Tavern for live music and tri tip sandwiches on Saturday/Sunday. Go wine tasting in Los Olivos/Santa Ynez. You can usually bring a picnic to the wineries. Can drive back via 101. Stop in Solvang, a Danish style town, on the way home or on the way up if you do the trip in reverse. You can get breakfast at Paula's Pancake House in Solvang. Great Mexican food at Dos Carlitos in Santa Ynez!
- Butterfly Beach in Montecito is one of the prettiest. Go into Montecito town. Drive up past some of the most gorgeous homes.
- Mesa Lane is my favorite beach! Just watch the tides.
- Wine taste and check out the breweries in the Funk Zone. I love Corks n' Crowns, Santa Barbara Winery, and Figuero Mountain Brewery.
- Check to see if there are any concerts at Santa Barbara Bowl
- Walk to the Old Mission for the beautiful rose garden
- Walk Sate St. (the main drag) to the ocean and walk out on Stearns Wharf. If facing the water, continue walking along East Beach to your left or head right up the big hill to Shoreline.
- Rent kayaks or SUPs. Wet suit advised! The water in SB is cold.
- Go whale watching!