Can someone bring me back to Santa Barbara ASAP? TBH I always saw myself as a SoCal girl living in a surf/skate beachside town but when we had the opportunity to move to SF it was a no brainer. The BF and I had been to SB before on a road trip down the PCH but we only stopped quickly for lunch and a walk around the harbor. Since we weren’t going home for the holidays we decided to take advantage of all the long weekend travel around us and make some new memories. Here are BALM’s tips to a great trip in Santa Barbara!
how to get there:
SB is about a 5 hour road trip south of San Francisco (with no traffic) and about and hour and a half from Los Angeles. If you’re feeling extra bougie you can fly right into the SB airport for a few hundo. Traveling tip: if you find yourself on route 154 be careful of the Santa Ynez mountains at night- they can be very intimidating in the dark! It’s a beautiful drive south on the 101 and make sure to stop in Gilroy, where all the garlic is from!
where to stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Milo right across from Stearns Wharf and we cannot wait to go back! When you book a hotel online you can never be too sure what to expect when you arrive. Hotel Milo was immaculate, centrally located, affordable, and even dog-friendly!! We were psyched because we were bringing our dog, Cody with us. They have free (included) wifi, continental breakfast, and these amazing beach cruisers that you can take out! The grounds are covered with gorgeous tiles, palm trees, and chic fire outdoor fire pits. I will tell you, Christmas in California is something else. I thought I was going to miss a white Christmas but boy was I wrong- the combination of Christmas trees and palm trees is so gorgeous and fun!
where to eat and drink:
A quick Google of Santa Barbara will bring up many mentions of the Urban Wine Trail, located right in the Funk Zone (yes, only in California is that the name of a neighborhood). The Funk Zone is a newly developed neighborhood filled with converted warehouses acting as art galleries and beer and wine tasting rooms. This worked out perfectly, since two of the days we were there it rained cats and dogs. All of the locals were saying it hadn’t rained that hard in 5 years. No sweat- we had so much bouncing from brewery to tasting room! Here were our favorites-
Figueroa Mountain Brewery– I’m not a serious beer drinker at all and my boyfriend is a huge craft beer fanatic so we always end up breweries. This place had some deeelicious beers (favorite was the mountain mule ginger beer) – and they change all the time. It had a really cute outdoor patio with heat lamps, etc but unfortunately it was raining too hard when we were there. The bartender was also awesome and put up with all of our annoying questions- we love talking to locals when we travel to really get to know where the best spots are!
Brass Bear Brewery- great beers and delicious snacks! The owner at this spot was also super friendly!
Brophy Brothers– located right on the harbor so it’s great for people watching- not that I stalked a shirtless hunk on a SUP board for 30 minutes or anything? Their chowder is unreal and raw oysters are nonstop. Also, probably one of the best drinks i’ve ever had? The Hot Press: ghost chili pepper, guava and lime juice!
State street is filled with awesome bars and restaurants like Sandbar, Casa Blanca, and Dawn Patrol.
Sambo’s is right next to Hotel Milo and across from the beach- hit this place up for bomb breakfast with friendly staff! If you had one too many beers the night before you’ll be super happy with the complimentary chocolate chip mini muffins.
what to do:
I mean if eating and drinking doesn’t do it for you, then we can’t be friends. JK. There’s plenty of other fun stuff to do but I would start with riding bikes along Cabrillo Bike Path right on the waterfront. If it’s really warm out there are some beautiful beaches to check out or you can even hit up the Santa Barbara Surf Museum. Take a walk down State Street to take in the beautiful homes and check out some cool local shops and eats!