Girls Getaway to Santa Barbara, California

We have had so many friends visit Santa Barbara and rave about this beach town. A Mediterranean-style city on the coast, 2 hours north of Los Angeles, with the Santa Ynez mountains as the backdrop. Sign us up! When we got the opportunity to take a sister getaway in California, this was definitely the spot we knew we needed to check-out.

Santa Barbara Beach

We always fall in love with any beach town, but this town is surely unique. It is a fairly small city, very navigable and has such a Spanish influence, that definitely sets it apart. We found the beach to be very calming and low key. Other than the pier, there are no major businesses on the beach, which we absolutely loved. If you move further into town, there is an abundance of wine tasting rooms, eclectic boutiques and some pretty incredible restaurants. There is also a downtown area that reflects the unique Spanish architecture that we adored. It is more commercialized, yet very pedestrian friendly, with plenty to see and do. To top it all off, you are less than an hour away from a variety of Vineyards in the surrounding towns, where you can partake in a full day of wine tasting. With so much to explore, we had trouble fitting everything into 3 days, but we made up an awesome itinerary that we think would be perfect for your next girls getaway! 

Santa Barbara Beach

Day 1

  • Check-in to your hotel. We highly recommend the Santa Barbara Inn! This hotel is in an amazing location across from the beach, large rooms with ocean views, a cute restaurant and within 5 miles to all activities in Santa Barbara. The only downside is they don’t offer a full breakfast in the hotel. 
    • Honorable hotel mentions – Fess Parker (also on the beach and they offer bike rentals to cruise around for a day) or Spanish Garden Inn (downtown). If you can swing the cost, highly recommend the Bacara resort, but it is slightly further from town.
  • Walk through the chromatic gate for an insta worthy pic, which is steps from the Santa Barbara Inn
  • Grab a drink at Stearns Wharf, the pier right off the beach. Take in the sights of the ocean and the beach at Deep Sea Winery tasting room.
  • Do some more wine tasting on the “Urban Wine Trail” in the Funk Zone. This is such an eclectic area that we were extremely surprised by. Has an artsy/hipster/industrial vibe, but we absolutely loved it and so many unique spots all within blocks of each other.
    • Favorite spots in the area:
      • Mony’s Mexican – great authentic Mexican in the Funk Zone
      • Les Marchands – Hands down the cutest wine bar in the area, with such a good variety to choose from! Also check-out Helena Avenue Bakery next door for some good treats!
      • The Valley Project – this venue is known for giving you a wine tasting through all the county's in Santa Barbara. The chalkboard wall teaches you so much about the wine regions and all the makeup of the soils. Cool place to learn about the wine in the region.
      • Fox Wine Co. – trendy wine tasting room inside of an industrial shopping area, Waterline. There is also a craft brewing venue next door for any beer drinkers.
  • End your night with a dinner at The Lark or their sister restaurant, Loquita, which was our favorite. Going along with the spanish cultural theme, this restaurant is known for Spanish tapas, good sangria, cheese and charcuterie, paella and the list goes on.
Santa Barbara Inn
Santa Barbara Inn
Santa Barbara Inn
Chromatic Gate
Stearns Wharf - Deep Sea Winery
Stearns Wharf - Deep Sea Winery
Helena Avenue Bakery
The valley project

Day 2

  • Head out to the wine region of Santa Ynez Valley, which is approximately 45min from Santa Barbara.  A rental car may be easiest or find a local tour in the area.
  • We were pleasantly surprised by how large the wine region is in this area. There are so many towns to choose from, with such diverse vineyards. It is a much more relaxed environment than a Napa/Sonoma area, while still seeing beautiful areas and trying great wines.
    • Wineries we loved: 
      • Bridlewood Estate – beautiful grounds, with some of the best tasting wines in the area. They provide tours on the weekends if you want a more in depth look at the property and how they make the wine
      • Sunstone Vineyard – excellent staff, great place to relax and the vineyard is set on rolling hills, with a Italian/European vibe
      • Roblar – another place with spectacular grounds and a lovely outdoor porch area to spend an afternoon
    • Our favorite towns in the area: 
  • If you want to work off all the wine and food from the day, highly recommend making a pit stop on your way back into town, at the Lizards Mouth Hike for sunset. The trail is marked by a brown drainage pipe and an information board. It is a very easy hike, but can get confusing as there are tons of trails, so try to follow someone up.  Fun fact (yet not recommended)- we accomplished this hike in dresses and sandals =) 
Bridlewood Winery
Bridlewood Winery
Bridlewood Winery
Succulent Cafe
Succulent Cafe
Lizards Mouth
Lizards Mouth

Day 3

  • Take advantage of the local Santa Barbara beach or check-out the famous Montecito area and Butterfly beach, if you are looking for something more private.
  • After a relaxing beach day, head over to the downtown area / State Street. Great area for commercial shopping and finding boutique shops and restaurants.
    • Favorite spots:
      • Breakfast / baked goods at Lilac Patisserie – the entire place is Gluten Free, #win! However, even for people that aren’t gluten free, the food is delicious!
      • Lunch at Pickles and Swiss – this sandwich shop was rated Top 100 restaurants on Yelp for 2017 and it lives up to the name! They have a ton of Gluten Free options as well. If you are feeling Mexican food again, Los Agaves is another to die for spot.
      • Plum Goods – best boutique in the area. Full of home goods and unique clothing finds
  • Find the tiled stairs at Paseo Nuevo for another insta worthy pic =)
  • If you have time, head over to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Clock Tower  for 360 degree views of the city.
  • Catch a dinner at Milk and Honey – another amazing tapas restaurant, with creative cocktails off State St.
  • Post-dinner we found our two favorite spots of the trip: 
    • Santa Barbara Wine Therapy – this place feels like your living room full of vino, board games and the most relaxing environment! We could have hung out here our entire trip and been satisfied.
    • The Red Piano – live piano music. Such a fun crowd and really engaging way to end the night 

If you've been to Santa Barbara, would love to hear about your favorite spots. Comment below if you need any additional suggestions in planning your trip!

Santa Barbara Beach
Pickles & Swiss
Plum Goods
Lilac Patisserie
Lilac Patisserie
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