There was a simpler time when I spent my evenings planning local weekender trips in and around California. Little staycations. So when Adam and I needed a weekend to relax and unwind, we thought a few days in heavenly Santa Barbara would be just the right remedy. Now if you know anything about us, I know what you’re thinking. A getaway to relax? How about staying home for once! But the truth is, home has become much less relaxing for me since I've been working remotely for the past three years. Any opportunity to get away from my desk and talk to humans I jump at!
Wayfarer Boutique Hotel
Santa Barbara is a quick two hour drive from L.A.. Better yet, you can take the Surfliner, a train that goes through a lot of California’s major coastal cities. The Pacific Surfliner drops you off in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, a wino’s dream. It also leads you to the doorstep of the very strategically placed Wayfarer Boutique Hotel, where we stayed for the weekend. The Wayfarer has a vibrant vibe to it, with quirky cool decor like mermaid printed wallpaper and lioness throw pillows with pigtails. It has communal space to chillax or play gigantic Connect Four or Jenga. It also has a large communal kitchen with complimentary breakfast, and an outdoor pool to soak in the Cali rays of sunshine. What I loved most of all, was the proximity to The Funk Zone’s countless tasting rooms and contemporary restaurants.
dinner at the lark
We arrived Friday late afternoon and then wandered a block over to The Lark, a beautifully designed restaurant with both indoor and outdoor space. The food is all locally sourced with ingredients from the Central Coast. We had the West Coast oysters, delish! The yellowtail hamachi crudo, delish! the house made pappardelle, yummy, but not as good as two previously mentioned. Finally, the seared ahi tuna. For this dish, you have to mix a bite of the seared ahi with a bite of the squash to get the full effect. The flavors really compliment each other. I highly recommend making a reservation for dinner here when you're in Santa Barbara!
Adam and I decided to grab a beer next at The Brewhouse, which feels like a local joint, and reminds me of my hometown Ventura. It has a lot of brews to choose from, all made right on the premises and as fresh as you can get. We made friends with a local couple and then listened to the live tunes of a Jack Johnson vibe band. Around midnight we stumbled back to the Wayfarer for a restful night in their cozy beds.
relax poolside and beach cruisin'
Saturday we went to relax poolside and take in some sun. It was a nice February day, clear skies, sunny and 70 degrees. We took the hotels “shark” beach cruisers out for a ride down the ocean boardwalk to grab brunch. We had just arrived when I heard someone holler my name. It was a big group of friends from L.A.! We chatted and they invited us to join them on a catamaran ride to try and spot some whales. They were leaving in 90 minutes. Adam and I hopped on the “sharks” and hit the road to find some quick eats before meeting them dockside. We found a cute little taco shop called East Beach Tacos that was alongside a batting cage and a little off the beaten path. They have a great selection of all types of tacos, like bahn mi and spicy crisp shrimp. The best was the poke taco! Great find!
get out on the water
We had just enough time to bike to the dock after our taco run. We set sail out onto the deep blue sea. You could see all the beautiful coastal mountains of Los Padres National Forest. We drank some champagne and rosé It was beautiful, but a little chilly out there with the February breeze, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any whales on this one. If you want to whale watch you're likely to see them mid-February — mid-May. I definitely want to go back for this!
wine tasting in the funk zone
We headed back to The Funk Zone and visited Municipal Winemakers and Oreana Winery. The Funk Zone is so much fun! Especially when you’re staying in it. We could walk outside our hotel at Wayfarer and there are more than ten wineries in walking distance. We’ve visited quite a few of these on past trips. Kalyra is one of my favorites for taste. For ambiance, I'd give it to Fox Wine Co., it's in an industrial building with accompanying breweries and artisan shops.
After a few glasses, Adam and I went back to the hotel to relax (siesta) for a bit and then head back out for dinner. Note to self, if you want to go to popular spots, make a rezzie (duh!). We tried to get in at Loquita, a Spanish restaurant with rave reviews, and after one delicious cocktail of waiting, we decided to move on. We hopped in an uber to go to Arigato Sushi on State Street, another very popular restaurant with only a slightly less wait time. We went across the street for a cocktail at The Good Lion to wait it out. The Good Lion is a swanky speakeasy with a changing menu of inventive cocktails. Mixology to the max!
Finally, around 9:45pm, we sat down for dinner. This sushi was no joke. It came highly recommended by a friend who has frequented Santa Barbara. The fish was fresh, and great presentation. Also the staff was very warm and inviting. It was a great end to our second night of staycation.
Wander down state street
Sunday morning we got up and decided to wander State Street. We walked to Backyard Bowls for delicious and inventive acai bowls. Then we walked further down the Spanish style State Street to Handlebar Coffee. It’s across the street from El Presidio de Santa Barbara, a Historical site housing remnants of a 1782 Spanish fortress, including 2 original adobe buildings. Also around the corner is the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, where you can learn all about the Spanish influence on the U.S. and the city of Santa Barbara. This museum has a gorgeous courtyard where events (including weddings) are held throughout the year.
Heading back down State Street we stopped at McConnell’s for ice cream. They have really unique flavors like Whiskey & pecan pralines, Eureka lemon & marionberries, Cardamom & Gingersnaps, and so many more.
We ate, we drank. A lot. And definitely were merry. It was a fab weekend and once I would do again since it’s a stone’s throw away from Los Angeles.