Santa Barbara has always been one of my favorite places to visit! There is such a variety of things to do, from the beaches, cute downtown area, amazing restaurants, mountain views and wine country! It definitely has it all. We visited a couple of weeks ago and had a blast discovering new restaurants and wineries we had never tried before! If you are planning a visit to Santa Barbara I highly recommend all of the places featured in this blog post.
The Ritz Carlton in Santa Barbara is actually about a 15 minute drive from downtown, but it is closer to a drive up to wine country. We love staying here for the excellent service, beautiful property and beach access! This was the spot of our engagement that happened on the trip. It will always be a very special place for us!
We stayed here last year when we did a weekend getaway. I love how it’s right downtown and walking distance from tons of great restaurants and the beach. Plus it’s fairly new and the modern / mediterranean aesthetic of the place is gorgeous! You can event barrow their bikes and ride along the boardwalk for a fun activity.
The Rosewood Miramar Beach is the newest hotel in the area, located right on the beach in Montecito. It is absolutely stunning and everything is top-notch. This is definitely the most pricey place to stay! If it’s a little too out of budget, go get a drink at the beach bar and enjoy ocean views and sip on a stellar margarita.
This restaurant focuses on local Santa Barbara Cuisine and Viticulture. We spoke with the sommelier during our visit and he was kind enough to recommend a wonderful local cabernet to go with our meal. Everything on the menu is a special creation! I had the lamb and Mo had the sea bass. We shared a bunch of sides and everything was good!
Barbareño is a vibe! Lots of small plates of creative central Californian dishes. It was casual but the dishes were so elegant and delicious!
Loquita was on my list for a while, and we finally got to go! The tapas are small and unique, so perfect for trying multiple different things and sharing. Everything had loads of flavor and came out perfectly coursed for a fun experience.
This is a staple restaurant for locals of Montecito, and you can even spot some celebs like Oprah dining here every once in a while! We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and loved everything.
This is THE brunch spot. It is right on the water and next to a dog beach! There nothing better and the food is all classic brunch goodness that you could possibly want.
When tasting wine in Santa Barbara you have a couple of options. You can either hop around the tasting rooms downtown or you can venture out beyond the Sta Rita Hills and explore the vineyards about 45 minutes to an hour from the city.
The first day, we booked our wine tasting tour with Coastal Concierge. This was nice because they drive you from your hotel, book your reservations and provide lunch.
Pence Vineyards is a stunning property and was a great experience overall. They have peacocks roaming the grounds and a beautiful irrigation pond as well as olive trees in the distance from which they make their own olive oil.
Our driver first drove us through the vineyards and allowed us to taste some of the syrah grapes! We then proceeded to our cozy tented table where we tasted 3 Pinots and 3 Chardonnays. All of the wines were so elegant with a clear difference of vineyard locations.
Peake Ranch is just a 10 minute drive from Pence, and also nestled in the beautiful Sta Rita Hills. It is also home to the historic ranch where the movie Sideways was portrayed! Their tasting room is beautiful and simple with a modern ranch vibe.
My favorite wine we had here was the Grenache and Syrah blend. It had lots of red fruits with subtle spice and a smooth mouthfeel. We also loved their fuller body Pinot Noirs and enjoyed learning about their different vineyards!
Grassini was my favorite downtown tasting room we visited. They had a wonderful selection of wines that were different than other Santa Barbara Wineries due to the warmer climates of their vineyards. We really enjoyed their Sauvignon Blancs, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignons.
Carr Winery is one of the few wineries downtown that does not have an additional vineyard tasting room. They source all of their grapes of vineyards in Santa Barbara County, and make the wines right on site at their tasting room. My favorite on their list was the 2017 Carr Cabernet Franc. It was very similar to a Loire Valley style Cab Franc and I was pleasantly surprised!
Melville Winery has a great tasting room located right on State Street in Downtown. This was the only winery we visited that had a sparkling wine option, and it was delicious! we tried their Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir, both were fantastic. Additionally, they had some lovely Pinot Noirs and a bold Syrah that I enjoyed!
Besides wine tasting and eating out (but who am I kidding those are my two favorite activities!) there is soo much to do and see in Santa Barbara. These are some of my favorites:
One of the amazing things about Santa Barbara is the weather. Year round it is typically 65 and sunny, so this makes packing pretty easily. Just don’t forget a light jacket for the night time or if you are near the coast!