Head up North out of LA on the 101 and a few hours later, you’ll arrive in the magical land that is Santa Barbara. This dreamland of a place is right on the ocean and bordered by the mountains, and is quite literally an oasis of a city. It’s home to some of the greatest winemakers in the world, has an abundant amount of restaurants that are beyoooond, has a great small business scene, and the amount of things to do outside are endless.
So, if we haven’t already convinced you… take a trip here and make sure to cross a few items off the list below. We don’t blame you, but you might never want to return home.
Hotel Californian is the quintessential Santa Barbara experience. It’s centrally located and if you visit during the summer, First Friday on their lawn is not to miss.
For those who are looking for a more rustic experience, look no further than this luxury airstream camp located in the heart of the city. The airstreams have alllllll the amenities you need, and they even include beach cruisers for you to ride around the town on.
If you’re feeling like treating yourself, look no further. This hotel is situated perfectly on the ocean and has a variety of things to do to make you feel like your best self. It’s always at the top of our lists!
This resort is the hideaway of our dreams. Not only is it a hidden oasis, but it has a variety of room offerings (including a private suite with an ammmaazing terrace.)
This idyllic hotel is located in the seaside community of Montecito, which is a short distance away from downtown Santa Barbara. Their pool is the ultimate spot for R&R and their happy hour views on the water are hard to beat.
The Public Market is chock-full of some of the best restaurants in SB, but the one that is really not to miss is Empty Bowl. With counter-only seating, you might stand in line for a bit… but it’s oh so worth it. Get the Khao Soi noodles and you’ll be dreaming about them for days to come.
This local bakery is known for their all-day made from scratch menu. (Not to mention their baked goods are out of this world.) They have a small market inside with different goods, and their sun-drenched patio is the perfect spot to lounge all day with a book.
If you’ve spent time in California, you’ll understand what an institution McConnell’s Ice Cream is. This family-run business has been around for over 70 years, and they got their beginnings in Santa Barbara. Head to their location on State Street for a sweet afternoon treat.
A classic Santa Barbara dining experience, the food doesn’t get any more local and vibrant than here. Instead of bread, they start the meal off with rotating popcorn flavors (which we grab by the handful.. it’s that good.) Plus, it’s located in the Funk Zone, so you can make your way over to the various tasting rooms next door when you’re done with dinner.
This Southeast Asian inspired restaurant is serving up local cuisine that cannot be beat (we’re looking at you, chicken wings.)
With a motto of “eat more pizza,” this place had our hearts from the start. Located in the charming Montecito Country Mart, it’s the kind of place that you could spend hours upon hours at.
This no frills, off-the-beaten path Mexican restaurant has a killer patio and even better tamales. You won’t be disappointed!
Loquita has top-notch Mexican food and one of the most beautiful patios, so naturally you can find us there any chance we can get.
This Public Market fave has recently expanded into their own location with a Taproom. We’d be here every. day. of. the. week, if possible.
Known for their natural wine and beer (you can take your pick from a small fridge) and their vibrant menu, Bibi J is making a splash in the Santa Barbara food scene and for great reason. All we have to say is: get the cauliflower.
This tasting room in the funk zone is as eclectic as it gets. Their rosé is not to be missed, and their wine tasting is one of the best on the block. Plus, you can grab a piece of art from their vending machine as a souvenir.
This space-themed bar as an incredible food and drink menu. It’s centrally located on State street, and there’s nothing better on a sunny afternoon to sit on their patio and order a “Sunshine Spritz” drink — their delicious take on the classic.
Walk into Melville and you’ll feel like you’ve strolled into the local winemaker’s home. The place has interiors that speak to us and the wine tasting is one of the best out there.
This shop is textile and color heaven, and it’s a taste of New England on the west coast. You’ll walk away with gems from here, we promise.
Vintage lovers, rejoice, because The Blue Door is a three-story heaven of unique and one of a kind finds, plus it has a great selection from local Santa Barbara makers.
Not only does the Santa Barbara courthouse have the most beautiful architecture, but you can climb to the top for a 360 view of the city that’s hard to beat.
Is there anything better than dogs on a beach? We think not. That’s why Hendry’s Beach is always on our itineraries when we’re in the area. It’s the most dog friendly beach out there, and there’s a great patio at Boathouse nearby for you to sit and relax.
A trip to Santa Barbara is not complete without a visit to the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley. Only an hour away from the city, it’s full of some of the best vineyards in the world. Pro tip: book Uber Wine in advance to have a driver accompany you a handful of various vineyards throughout the day.