As travel journalists we are constantly on the road so when it was time to choose a destination for our 5-year anniversary, we wanted to stay somewhere close to home. We searched our mental Rolodex for the best weekend trips from Los Angeles and we kept coming back to the Central Coast. We wanted something that was a short drive from Los Angeles, had a gourmet foodie scene, wines to rival French wine country, and the best beaches in the world. That’s why we chose Santa Barbara California, “the American Riviera,” for a 24-hour staycation.
WHERE TO STAY
Santa Barbara California and Montecito have an abundance of luxury accommodations including the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Bacara, and the Belmond El Encanto. While we’ve stayed at the Ritz Carlton Bacara before, we chose to stay at the Hotel Californian this time, the latest and greatest luxury hotel in the Santa Barbara area. This hotel is within walking distance to all of the great Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail tasting rooms, it has hip décor, and a divine rooftop pool.
WHERE TO PLAY
There are so many great places to stay and play in Santa Barbara that there is no way you can do it all in just twenty four hours! We would recommend choosing one to two activities so that you don’t feel rushed. For our twenty-four hours in Santa Barbara California, we chose to visit wineries in Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara. …Because wine is an activity, right?
We booked a private aerial & wine tour through Santa Barbara Coastal Concierge. On this five-hour tour, we took a private Cessna plane around Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Santa Ynez. It was a beautiful sunny day in Santa Barbara so we could clearly see the Channel Islands from up in the sky. We also took a little aerial tour around Oprah Winfrey’s house (Hi Oprah!) and looked at the wineries in Santa Ynez.
After touching back down at Santa Barbara airport, we took a private car out to Santa Ynez where we enjoyed two intimate tastings. The first tasting was at Pence Winery, known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For the second tour, we headed to Folded Hills, a winery, farmstead, and ranch for the best rosé in Santa Barbara California.
Upon returning to downtown Santa Barbara, we hopped on the Santa Barbara urban wine trail for a couple more tastings, just blocks from our hotel in the “Funk Zone.” We highly recommend a tasting at Kunin Wines and Corks n’ Crowns.
WHERE TO DINE
For an epic breakfast, head to downtown Santa Barbara and dine at Sambo’s, a Santa Barbara California institution. We highly recommend ordering the CBH benedict – a delightful dish of poached eggs, corned beef hash, avocado, spinach, English muffin, and Hollandaise sauce.
When it comes to places to eat in Santa Barbara, the city has an abundance of delicious dining options. From the intimate dining at Bouchon to the farm-to-table tastiness at The Lark, the heavenly sushi at Arigato to Oprah’s favorite Italian food at Trattoria Mollie, there are fantastic options for every fare. We booked a table at Toma restaurant, but we would NOT recommend dining here. It was a glorified Applebee’s with snooty service and subpar cuisine.
When you’re finished with dinner, head over to McConnell’s Ice Cream, made right here in Santa Barbara.
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