We have not traveled since January due to obvious reasons (ahem pandemic) and unfortunately had to cancel two trips we were really looking forward to going to: Disneyland and Hawaii. After feeling bummed and sorry for ourselves we decided to do a road trip to Southern California before the kids start back school. They’ll be distance learning for at least the first few months of the school year so we wanted to do something outdoorsy and active. Our first stop on our trip was Santa Barbara. It’s about a 4 1/2 hour drive from San Jose and such a great place for a romantic weekend getaway or a family vacation.
Where To Stay
Kimpton Canary Hotel – This is where we stayed during our stay and loved it. It’s a small boutique hotel located right in downtown Santa Barbara and walking distance to State Street, Stearns Wharf and the Beach. The best part was the free daily happy hour and their rooftop pool and lounge area. Very Instagrammable place! They have a restaurant on site called the Finch & Fork which is currently closed due to Covid-19 but reviews for the restaurants are great! They also have bike rentals free to use for hotel guests with no time limit!
Ritz Carlton – The ultimate splurge! This property has access to two beaches, have three infinity edge pools on the property and a 42,000 sq foot spa (once we’re able to use it)! It’s a pretty penny to stay here but this is luxury at its finest.
Hotel Californian – This hotel is right on the beach and where we will make a point to stay next time we are in Santa Barbara. Great location, family friendly with ocean views. Close to lots of shops and restaurants. They also have a rooftop pool perfect for catching the sunset.
The Hilton Santa Barbara – Another beachfront property which is a great option for those who want a close proximity to the sand and sea. It’s 1-mile away from the Funk Zone district and 10 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara.
Where To Eat
Olio Pizzeria – Had the best Spaghetti Amatriciana here which is pancetta, onion, tomato sauce and pecoricino! Rowell had the spicy Linguini with shrimp and that was also delish. And you can’t go wrong with any of their pizzas. We showed up with no reservations on a busy Saturday night and they were able to accommodate us right away. Their outdoor seating area is so cute located in the courtyard and makes you feel like you’re in Europe a little. The servers were very attentive and food came out quick. You won’t be disappointed with this place!
Bluewater Grill – Fresh oysters anyone?! This is located right across the street from Stearns Wharf and has the perfect view of the pier and beach. If you make reservations, you’ll be seated at the 2nd floor top patio area which is a bit small but you get a nice view. If you don’t have reservations, don’t worry as they have plenty of outdoor seating available near their entrance. Our server, who I forget her name, was super sweet to us and provided excellent service.
Sushi Bar 29 – Legit one of the best sushi I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot of sushi! And we got take-out too and yet it was so fresh and delicious. Thinking about it makes me hungry for it now! We ordered Mike’s Dancing Pants, Lion King Roll, Red Dragon Roll some nigiris and Tonkatsu for the kids and everything was so good! This was a very short walk from the Canary hotel where we were staying which made it a great take-out option for us after a busy day of activities.
Padaro Beach Grill – This place is super cute and very-kid friendly. It gets very busy so make sure to go early when they open or prepare to wait. It’s located right by the beach and they have a bunch of picnic tables all spaced out far from each other. I saw an employee sanitizing the tables and chairs diligently. It’s a casual place so you order your food at the counter, they give you a number and call you when your order is ready. We had fish tacos and carne asada fries and that is all I really need to be happy!
What To Do & Sites To See
State Street – Located in downtown Santa Barbara you will find lots of restaurants, shops and bars. They actually closed this street off to make room for outdoor dining and to allow people to keep their distance while walking. It’s fun to walk around before and after dinner and just people watch.
Stearns Wharf – Pretty much one of Santa Barbara’s main attractions, it has many restaurants and shops. It’s super pretty to take pictures and enjoy an afternoon at Stearns Wharf.
Santa Barbara Zoo – We didn’t go this time around, but this zoo is supposedly world famous. Remember the opening credits to that 70s/80s show, “Three’s Company”? I checked out their website and you do have to reserve your visit ahead of time. Due to Covid-19, they aren’t accepting any walk-ins.
Family Bike Rides – We also didn’t get to do this since we were short on time but we saw tons of families riding those 4 seater bikes along the beach. It was super cute. We saw plenty of bike rental places open while we were walking around. It’s a great way to get exercise too if you’ve been indulging in lots of yummy food Santa Barbara has to offer.
Santa Barbara Courthouse – We came here to take pictures of the architecture of the building. It is so beautiful and looks so….Santa Barbara! There was a wedding when we arrived at around 10am on a Monday and another couple taking wedding photos so it’s a popular spot! Make sure to stop by even for a few minutes to snap some pics.
Santa Barbara Mission – The museum and tours are currently closed but it is still worth a visit to this historical landmark in Santa Barbara. The building and architecture of the place is so beautiful that you definitely want to see it for yourself!
The Funk Zone – More for those traveling without kiddos, the funk zone is home to lots and lots of wine tasting rooms and breweries so enjoy your freedom and some good booze, my friends!
Have you guys been to Santa Barbara before? If so, tell me the places you loved in the comment section below! If not, I hope you guys get to visit this beautiful beach town one day! It makes for a wonderful weekend getaway!
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