Santa Barbara – America’s Riviera
By: Inna Shamis
Often referred to as the “American Riviera” because of its Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara is located 100 miles up the coast from Los Angeles (and 335 miles south of the San Francisco bay area), just along the panoramic Pacific Coast. As a year-round tourist destination, the city is renowned for more than just its weather – its location nestled between the beaches and mountains, Spanish architecture and relaxing lifestyle also a great draw!Boasting a thriving arts & culture scene (similar to a big city), boutique shopping, wine-country bistro cuisine and the hospitality of a cozy small town – Santa Barbara is a magnificent destination on the West Coast… perfect for R&R, a long vacation or simply just a weekend getaway.
journeyPod recently had the opportunity to experience a stop over in this gorgeous coast town, and here’s a little taste of our visit:
Inn of the Spanish Garden – Located in the heart of Old Town and just steps away from the historic 1782 Presidio District and the famous State Street, Inn of the Spanish Garden beautifully and authentically replicates the area’s 18th century Spanish-Colonial mission-style architecture of ornate iron work, red-tiled floors, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces and white adobe walls throughout its spacious 23 guest rooms. Offering a complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, in-room spa treatments, free movie rentals and unparalleled personal service, the quality amenities and the fusion of old world decor with modern day luxuries, makes this luxury inn a true gem!
Hotel Andalucia – Located in the heart of historic downtown, Hotel Andalucia mixes Spanish and Mediterranean decor with luxurious accommodations. Boasting a great location, roof top bar (see more below), pool and spa amenities and a mission-style wood-burning fireplace – the place truly captures the essence of a California beach resort, all while maintaining a savvy urban appeal. Among its gorgeous decor, the hotel features decorative arches, wrought-iron detail, colorful tiles and showcases contemporary art from local and national artists. As the city’s tallest boutique hotel, it also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Montecito Inn – Located just minutes away from downtown Santa Barbara, the Montecito Inn is a true historic hotspot in the area, having been originally built and owned by Charlie Chaplin in the late 1920’s. Surrounded by exquisite million dollar estates, The Montecito Inn underwent significant renovations in the recent years to offer and boast some of today’s modern conveniences. For fans of Chaplin, the Inn exudes memories of its Golden Ere heritage and offers its Chaplin-fan guests access to a library offilms. Montecito Inn also houses one of the best dining spots in the area, the Montecito Cafe (see more below).
Pascucci – A traditional neighborhood eatery located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara (at 729 State Street), Pascucci is hard to resist – particularly when the smell or roasted garlic outside the restaurant is enough to entice you. Serving everything from pasta and gourmet made-to-order pizzas to risotto and meat specialties, this place is a must when in town. Just make sure to save enough room for some of the best Tiramisu we’ve tasted – west of NYC! 729 State Street.
Brophy Brothers – Recognized as the area’s “Best Seafood Restaurants”, Brophy Brothers is located along the water and has been known to serve some of the best clams – we’d agree! With seafood choices that are flown in fresh daily, its impossible to get anything you won’t like off this menu. Our favorites included the Oyster Shooters and New England Clam Chowder. If you can, try to grab one of the outdoor tables for a great view of the marina and Santa Barbara mountains! Brophy Brothers is located at Breakwater at the Harbor at 119 Harbor Way.
Montecito Cafe – Serving a California Nouveau menu, this hot spot is housed within The Montecito Inn – one of Santa Barbara’s landmarks. The restaurant specializes in everything from grilled steak and fresh fish, to great salads and pastas. Though frankly, we can’t seem to get the Coconut Cake out of our head! Everything from the sauces, soups, dressings, bread and desserts are made from scratch. A great spot to check out for either lunch or dinner. Montecito Cafe is located at 1295 Coast Village Road.
The Enterprise Fish Co. – Housed in what used to be the home for an industrial linen service, Enterprise Fish Co. has been serving locals and tourist alike for over 30 years. Offering a full bar and a menu that features everything from grilled seafood to steak, this place doesn’t disappoint! Go for the Alaskan King Crab Legs or one of the other house specialties like the Cioppino (a delectable combo of shrimp, Alaskan King Crab, fresh fish, scallops, clams and mussels) or the Spicy Cajun Jambalaya. The restaurant is located at 225 State Street.
Bouchon – Voted among the “Best Restaurants for Wine Lovers” by Wine Spectator Magazine, Bouchon is just steps away from the heart of Santa Barbara (located at 9 W. Victoria Street). Featuring a menu filled with fresh fish, produce, farm-raised game, and wine from the local area, the selections here change seasonally – but are always impressive. Whatever you choose off the menu, make sure to tap in on the knowledgeable staff that can help pair your dish with one of the selections off the wine list. For all you beer hounds, you’ll also be impressed by the two-dozen (or more) microbrews that Bouchon serves. And for those with a sweet tooth – save space for the “Warm Santa Barbara Chocolate ‘Molten Lava’ Cake”!
Opal Restaurant & Bar – Boasting a great bar scene and an eclectic California cuisine menu (along with delicious comfort-food choices), the great little hotspot marries delectable fare with an impressive wine list (check out the local selections). Go for any of the wood-fired pizzas, pastas or homemade desserts. Tip: Reservations are a must! Opal is located at 1325 State Street.
Rooftop Bar at Hotel Andalucia– Located atop the hotel, this great sunset bar boasts a spectacular view of the California mountains and the water.
The James Joyce – A traditional “Irish Bar” located in the heart of downtown (at 513 State Street), The James Joyce is named after the famous Irish novelist – recognized for such books as Ulysses and Finneganns Wake. Fondly referred by locals as “JJ”, this place features free peanuts, dartboards, pool tables, a fireplace for those chilly California nights and live jazz on the weekends. And a guaranteed spot to make a new friend in the area!
Joe’s Cafe – During the daytime hours, Joe’s (a local institution which has been around since 1928) is a great spot for steaks, sandwiches and seafood. But when the sun sets, it’s a great place to start your night off – particularly when its known for having the “stiffest drinks” in the neighborhood. Joe’s is located at 536 State Street.