Santa Barbara may very well be my new favorite vacation spot in the USA (besides Hawaii, of course). It’s called the American Riviera because of its mediterranean-like climate. Eric and I traveled there for our ‘Babymoon’ and it couldn’t have been a more relaxing vacation. Now I know that I said Jackson Hole was our ‘babymoon’ but in reality, Jackon Hole was our last adventure before baby and Santa Barbara was more of our relax & unwind letsthinkaboutwhatsabouttohappen trip before baby. If you haven’t been to Santa Barbara before, put it on your bucket list right now. It’s the perfect place for a girls weekend, a mother-daughter trip, getaway with your hubby, or a weekend of relaxation before baby.
From hiking to wine tasting to beach explorations to perfect year round weather, there is so much to see & do in Santa Barbara. Here are my tips for making the most of your vacation!
Hotel Milo is located right across the street from the beach and a short walk from town. It was the perfect location for us to get around easily and we really enjoyed our time there. They offer complimentary valet, a free wine tasting from 4-6 on the weekends, bikes to leisurely explore town, and an easy breakfast in the morning. We spent some quality time laying by the pool reading and then running across the street to put our feet in the ocean, which was about 200 yards from our hotel! I highly recommend checking out Hotel Milo if you visit Santa Barbara. It’s moderately expensive (but no more so than some other places in town), and if you’re celebrating a special occasion or really want to make the most of your trip, it’s the best bank for the buck!
There are many many things to do in Santa Barbara but I’ll give you a run-down of our favorites:
San Ysidro Ranch
San Ysidro Ranch is a fancy hotel located in Montecito, California and a short drive from SB. Famous names like Oprah Winfrey reside in Montecito and it became very clear why. With lush gardens and beautiful mountain and ocean views, we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon exploring. Now San Ysidro Ranch is probably the fanciest hotel in the area. We did not stay to dine but we did walk around the beautiful gardens and take pictures while enjoying a delicious glass of vino.
Famous guests have stayed at San Ysidro Ranch including JFK and Jackie for their honeymoon, Winston Churchill, and Audrey Hepburn.
Belmond El Encanto is another fancy hotel in Santa Barbara but a little less pricy than San Ysidro Ranch. In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful hotel in the whole area. With a patio overlooking the ocean and adorable bungalows residing along the hill, we enjoyed meandering the property. My favorite part was sitting down for High Tea, an activity I loved in London last summer. We ordered the Traditional Tea which came with small sandwiches, scones, a variety of pastries, and our choice of tea. I ordered the Halo White tea which tasted absolutely delicious with a little cream. We sat for a long time talking, relaxing, and enjoying the gorgeous views. It was my first experience having a cucumber sandwich and it definitely will not be my last ;) #thebest
The Old Mission is a church that has been around in Santa Barbara since 1786 and is a cultural landmark in the area. There was a service happening when we stopped by so we stayed outside and snapped some pictures and thoroughly enjoyed the rose gardens across the street. There were a few artists painting and sketching the building and it was fun checking out the various colors of roses. It’s a short drive from Belmond El Encanto, so it’s worth stopping by on your way back into town ;)
Walk Douglas Family preserve down to beach:
Locals recommended we check out the Douglas Family Preserve which is a leisurely walk up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. You can hike all the way down to the beach where there’s a restaurant called the Boathouse that we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to try. We heard great things though! I loved this part of our trip. We came back a second morning to enjoy the beach, barefoot this time, and to watch the dogs running freely. We strolled, coffee in hand, chatting about life and it made me imagine a future with our kiddos toddling along, dogs meandering the shoreline, and all the simple pleasures of enjoying beach life.
A must do on any babymoon is get a massage, of course! Since moms-to-be can’t indulge in many activities, why not relax and enjoy a prenatal massage? Eric and I were pumped to try Salt and we loved our morning massages to kickstart our Saturday. Just perfect. I highly recommend checking out this spa. They offer a complimentary session in their salt cave where you sit and breathe in the fresh air, browse a magazine or two, and relax. The salt particles are said to assist with breathing. It’s a great natural way to battle any allergies or congestion you may be having! And it’s super relaxing.
I have an obsession with home stores. And the second we walked by Rooms & Gardens, I knew it would be a while before we could leave. Ginger jars are a new favorite decorative piece and Eric and I purchased two lamps which look glorious in our living room. The bedding and linens in this store are incredible. You can shop with them online too so if you aren’t visiting Santa Barbara any time soon but are on the hunt for some gorgeous pillows and decor, look no further. The ladies we met at the shop also gave us the best tips for exploring! We absolutely loved this store that’s right in town on State Street.
State and Fig– We loved the salads and fish tacos at State and Fig. This restaurant is right downtown where we meandered in and out of boutiques and stores. I highly recommend their arugula salad with salmon.
Lucky Penny– Lucky Penny is a little pizza joint not too far from the ocean and very inexpensive. We ate a low key dinner there Friday night and loved every bite.
The Lark– We did not get a chance to visit the Lark but it’s located next to Lucky Penny and owned by the same owners. Every person in town recommended this spot and we’ll be sure to check it out next time we’re in town.
Santa Mezcal– This was our last stop before leaving town and we were happily surprised with how delicious our meal was after stumbling into the restaurant. It was super busy (which is always a good sign on a Sunday morning) and we loved our halibut tacos. It came with a delicious mango salad and rice.
Santa Barbara will always hold a special place in our hearts as a last hoorah before our life as we know it completely changes. It was such a perfect place to vacation and I can’t wait to return some day! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Here are a few snaps more from our trip.
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