The Ultimate Santa Barbara Travel Guide

If you’re looking for the perfect 2020 getaway that’s drivable in California, and has a gorgeous beach, wineries, delicious restaurants, tons of hikes and quintessential Pacific Coast natural beauty, look no further than Santa Barbara. 

Located less than 100 miles from Los Angeles up the famed Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Barbara has long been a favorite for escapes from Hollywood and romantic California getaways. But, in recent years, the vibrant Southern California gem has also fast become a serious wine destination as well – with the Santa Maria, Los Alamos, and Santa Ynez Valleys, and Santa Rita Hills all offering unique microclimates and distinctive grape varietals that produce some of California’s best wine. AND with new farm-to-table restaurants, luxury beachside resorts, and, of course, the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara is hard to beat for a fun weekend getaway, a week vacation, a bachelorette party, or even a great place to base for a couple months while working remote

Where to Stay in Santa Barbara for Luxury: The best resorts in SB

Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Located on the Sandpiper golf course, the Ritz Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara resort is the perfect Highway One destination – with beautiful ocean views, an outdoor pool and five-star on-site dining. All guest rooms have a private patio with a view – so perfect for sipping on some sunset wine and relaxing at the end of the day.

Check rates for your dates here

Rosewood Miramar

Located directly on the beach, the famed, recently re-opened Rosewood Miramar is arguably one of the most beautiful, and classic, hotel properties in the world. Luxe, spacious, beachside guest rooms, suites and private bungalows to fulfill all your California dreams. 

Hotel Californian

For the perfect hotel location in Santa Barbara, look no further than the Hotel Californian. Located next to the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara, the Hotel Californian is just steps from the beach and features an outdoor pool. Guests can enjoy several on-site dining options and take advantage of the on-site spa.

Check rates for your dates here.

The best Airbnbs in Santa Barbara

 

 

 

Duplex on the Beach

Santa Barbara Cozy Cottage

Bright and Airy State Street Cottage

 

 

The Funk Zone

The Funk Zone is Santa Barbara’s trendiest neighborhood and features a series of buzzy warehouse buildings filled with vintage shops, art pieces, graffiti murals, and, most importantly, the Urban Wine Trail, a stretch of more than 25 local wine tasting rooms. It’s a must-do on any vacation to Santa Barbara. 

Where to Go in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

Where to get breakfast/brunch before wine tasting in the Funk Zone:

Helena Avenue Bakery

This counter-service bakery and breakfast spot in the Funk Zone is a staple. There’s a nice little patio and some communal dining tables. The food is so good – from delicious breakfast sandwiches to their famous Green Eggs & Ham biscuit with jack cheese and green harissa. It’s also a great spot to grab picnic supplies and head over the beach (2 blocks away!).

Goat Tree 

Located on State Street at the Hotel Californian, Situated in the heart of lower State Street, Goat Tree is within minutes of the Funk Zone, and downtown Santa Barbara, so a perfect spot to start your day with a delicious breakfast. 

Where to go wine tasting in the Funk Zone:

Santa Barbara Wine Collective

This industrial-chic spot makes for a great first wine tasting stop if you’re bopping around the Funk Zone. 

Try a single varietal from each vineyard, or enjoy a custom flight. Either way, Santa Barbara Wine Collective provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the diversity and span of Santa Barbara’s winelands.

Courtesy Blake Bronstad

Riverbench Santa Barbara

Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973, when its first grapes were planted. Over time, Riverbench has become a prominent Santa Barbara winery name for its high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines.

Kunin Wines
Hanging out in The Funk Zone wouldn’t be complete without a stop into Kunin. The wines are great, and the atmosphere is bright and airy — just what you’d expect from a chill Southern California tasting room. Each tasting costs $15 and the wines change monthly. 

Where to get lunch in the Funk Zone:

Lucky Penny

Follow the instagram-worthy wall covered in copper pennies to one of the Funk Zone’s buzziest eating spots. With great outdoor seating, Lucky Penny is known for their delicious wood-fired pizzas – a perfect lunch while drinking your way around Santa Barbara.

Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio

Opened in 2015 by neighborhood mainstay since 1973 Shalhoob Meat Company, this lively barbecue joint is a Funk Zone favorite. Grab a seat on the patio – where there’s often live music – and munch on comfort food apps including fish tacos and hot wings, pulled pork sliders, fried chicken sandwiches, and bacon jam burgers, and heaping platters of tri tip and pulled pork barbecue and sides.

Where to go in the Funk Zone for beer when you need a break from wine:

Figueroa Mountain Brewery

With a casual vibe and sunny patio, this happening taproom draws Funk Zone beer lovers in with its rotating list of craft brews, regular happy hours, live music, and food from Lucky Penny.

Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop

A huge selection of rotating beers on tap, including cider, wine, and boozy kombucha. It’s also extremely dog-friendly, and is decorated with a mural in dedication to the resident dog, and namesake, Lama.

Where to go in the Funk Zone for dinner:

The Lark

This place is a scene, and a great spot to grab a vibrant, fresh dinner in the Funk Zone. All locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, family style.

Lucky Penny

Follow the instagram-worthy wall covered in copper pennies to one of the Funk Zone’s buzziest eating spots. With great outdoor seating, Lucky Penny is known for their delicious wood-fired pizzas – a perfect lunch while drinking your way around Santa Barbara.

Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio

Opened in 2015 by neighborhood mainstay since 1973 Shalhoob Meat Company, this lively barbecue joint is a Funk Zone favorite. Grab a seat on the patio – where there’s often live music – and munch on comfort food apps including fish tacos and hot wings, pulled pork sliders, fried chicken sandwiches, and bacon jam burgers, and heaping platters of tri tip and pulled pork barbecue and sides.

The Best Wineries in Santa Barbara to Visit Outside the Funk Zone

Crown Point: Highly rated wines – Ranked one of the top 10 cabernet sauvignons in California by Wine Enthusiast.

Melville: Melville is dedicated to producing exceptional, highly-rated cold-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah grown exclusively on their estate in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. 

Pence Vineyards: Tucked away in the hills of Santa Ynez Valley, Pence Ranch is a small artisanal winery dedicated to producing world-class wines (specializing in pinots) that highlight the unique complexity of Santa Barbara land.

Bridlewood

From intimate tastings in the barrel room to walking tours of the gorgeous property, this is a great spot to go for wine tasting in Santa Barbara. Explore the scenic grounds and lush vineyards of the stunning 105-acre estate while enjoying their acclaimed wines.

Au Bon Climat
The winemaker here studied in Burgundy and has been making wine in Santa Barbara since 1982, long before the world started to take notice of SB’s wine scene. The Au Bon Climat tasting room is located in a vine-covered Spanish-style building in Santa Barbara’s Presidio neighborhood and houses a collection of over 100 different wines. It doubles as a library for older vintages that can’t be found anywhere else and offers wine tastings where you’ll sample the winery’s award-winning chardonnays and pinot noirs, like the bright, crisp, and slightly oaky Santa Barbara County chardonnay and the bold but balanced Isabelle pinot noir.

Jonata/Hilt: This winery is remodeling their tasting room right now, but is from the makers of Screaming Eagle (an ultra famous, ultra-expensive Napa Valley wine)

Do a Biking & Wine Tasting Tour in Santa Barbara

The Best Restaurants in Santa Barbara

The best Breakfast in Santa Barbara:

Jeannines in Montecito – For a classic, American breakfast with a big patio and lots of outdoor dining, head to Jeannines, where my friend just saw Orlando Bloom eating breakfast the other day!

Backyard Bowls – The best Acai Bowls in Santa Barbara. They have 3 locations, one right on State Street. 
Juice Ranch – For the best healthy juicery in Santa Barbara, head to Juice Ranch, the local’s favorite juice spot. 
https://www.instagram.com/p/CAI8wN2JPNM/
Dune Coffee Roasters – For a cute, delicious coffeeshop to start your day, look no further than Dune Coffee
Field + Fort
This new farm-to-table spot in Summerland serves up delicious food in a unique, homey atmosphere with a creative all-day menu of local, fresh and seasonal ingredients from farmers and sources the owners know personally.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CAS_5q3Fngn/

The Best Restaurants with a View in Santa Barbara:

Tydes

For stunning views, a modern setting and elegant dining, head to Tydes! These views are seriously impossible to beat. Order a spicy mango margarita and thank me later!

Where to eat Dinner in Santa Barbara:

Located right on the beach, this place is the best for sunset, and a local joint. Everyone who knows it, loves it. So don’t miss it on your trip to Santa Barbara. 
For the BEST pizza in Santa Barbara, head to Bettina Pizzeria. The crust is sourdough and fermented for 48 hours – Unreal!

The lark

This sceney spot in the Funk Zone features all locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, family style.

Zaytoon- Meditteranean

Zaytoon features a HUGE garden, and feels like you’re in a backyard, with family style dining, and hookah too, if that’s your thing. 

Loquita – Spanish

Head to Loquita for paella and delicious hot and cold tapas in a cute Spanish style setting. Patatas Bravas, churros, Spanish octopus, and Pan Con Tomate are best enjoyed from the lively outdoor patio with plenty of local and Spanish wines and sangria to go round and heat lamps to keep you cozy.

Fun Activities to Do in Santa Barbara

Do a Biking & Wine Tasting Tour in Santa Barbara


 

Take Surf Lessons in Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market

On Saturday mornings, the downtown Santa Barbara farmer’s market is a MUST-do. It’s open through COVID and is still one of the best things to do in town. 

The Best Hikes in Santa Barbara

Inspiration Point

3.5 mile moderate hike – for an amazing view of the entire Santa Barbara County, this is the hike you’ll want.

Seven Falls

7 pools (don’t expect big waterfalls – especially in dry season) but great moderate-hard 3 mile hike, and the same starting point as inspiration point!

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