Santa Barbara is one of the best cities in California to visit and spend time. It has a great beach, boat harbors and a pier known as Stearns Wharf where you will find several eating and drinking options.
The area just east of the beach and between Route 101, split by railroad tracks, is the “Funk Zone”. This area, which was once industrial, is being re-developed with attractive shops, restaurants and businesses like surfboard shops, artists and a boutique winemaker.
I did stop in and see the new Hotel Indigo at 121 State St. It had just opened and is a contemporary hotel that is attractive and well-designed. I would definitely stay there on my next trip. You are close to the beach and a short walk to the main shopping and restaurant district. Other hotels getting good reviews include the Hotel Milo, The Goodland, The Spanish Garden Inn, the Agave Inn and the Canary.
Downtown Santa Barbara is very attractive and is a great walking destination. There are many shops, restaurants and galleries.
I enjoyed lunch at The Hungry Cat which is a branch of the well-known Hollywood restaurant. Loved the fish tacos! It is at 1134 Chapala at Anapamu.
Bouchon is a downtown restaurant that comes highly recommended by local friends. It is at 9 West Victoria Street and features locally sourced ingredients and local Santa Barbara wines. Chicago friends just got back and thought it was one of their best meals ever!
Other articles including the New York Times, recommend Restaurant Taqueria La Colmena at 217 N. Milpas, La Super-Rica Taqueria at 622 N. Milpas, and Jeannine’s for breakfast. Also just read about The Lark for locally sourced, seasonal ingredients that includes a large communal table. Sunset Magazine loves Paradise Cafe 70 Anacapa St., Ca’ Dario at 37 E. Victoria and D’Angelo Bread at 25 W. Gutierrez for coffee, breakfast and brunch. Brophy Brothers is known for its seafood along the Santa Barbara Harbor. Scarlett Begonia is also recommended at 11 E. Victoria. Food and Wine Magazine likes the Taqueria el Bajio at 129 N. Milpas St.
Make sure to see the Old Santa Barbara Mission. This is a beautiful spot. It was the 10th California Mission and was completed in 1786, two years after the death of Padre Junipero Serra, who founded the first nine Missions. It was Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, his successor, who raised the cross and made the first converts. The chapel and grounds are lovely.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art: I was invited to attend a private tour of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art which is in the heart of downtown. I saw two great photography shows and another show as part of the Pacific Standard Time show that was organized by the Getty and was being shown in venues all over Southern California. It is an excellent museum and well worth the visit.
It was founded in 1941 and has strengths in Ancient Art, Asian Art, French and English 19th and early 20th Century Art, 19th and early 20th Century American Art, International Modernism and works on Paper, Photography and Contemporary Art. It is located at 1130 State Street.
Opened in 1918, the vintage El Encanto resort, now an Belmond property (Orient Express), has undergone an extensive seven-year renovation and is getting good press as a great place to stay with beautiful grounds and wonderful panoramic views of the city and ocean.
I am also excited to hear that there is now the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 W. Victoria. It has a focus on local farms and artisanal ingredients. You will find purveyors of coffee, seafood, ice cream, cupcakes, meats, breads, wine, beer and much more. They also offer special events, cooking classes and wine events.