A few weeks ago I reached our to my friends that have moved to other parts of the country. Most of them have migrated to either coast but a few have found a new home in the heart of the country. Rather than write city guides based on my travels, I thought it might be fun to include some from my friends around the country. So every few weeks I get to share with you something that a dear friend has taken the time to share about his or her favorite places in their city. This post is written by my friend, Caitlin. I hope you enjoy!
Hop in the car in Los Angeles, head north on Pacific Coast Highway, and a mere two hours later you’ll find yourself in the charming city of Santa Barbara. Known as the American Riviera, this magical destination features world-class cuisine, spectacular views, and a bustling downtown area. Plus thanks to its proximity to the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Rita Hills region, the area is an ideal destination for wine aficionados and casual vino fans alike.
Who: El Encanto
What: Perched on the hill overlooking the town and Pacific Ocean, this stylish boutique hotel is a must-visit. In addition to modern interiors and a sprawling terrace restaurant, guests of the hotel will especially enjoy the stunning infinity edge pool, luxury spa, and meticulous gardens.
Who: San Ysidro Ranch
What: Located in neighboring Montecito, this historic spot seems to be collecting accolades. Named the best hotel in the world by Forbes and fourth best on Travel and Leisure’s list, San Ysidro is where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier were wed, and where Jackie and John Kennedy honeymooned. Private cottages and unbelievable grounds make this luxurious spot perfect for special occasions.
What: Also in neighboring Montecito, The Biltmore Four Seasons features impressive and meticulously maintained grounds and an ocean-front setting. Enjoy brunch on the restaurant terrace overlooking the sea or soak in the Spanish-colonial style of the resort’s rooms and common areas for a true taste of the Santa Barbara aesthetic.
Who: Simpson House Inn
What: Just steps from bustling State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, this truly charming inn features individually decorated rooms and cottages, amid an idyllic English garden setting. Lounge seating on the main building’s wrap-around porch is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of local wine and a good book.
Who: Arigato Sushi
What: Considered the best sushi in Santa Barbara—if not one of the best restaurants—this modern two-story space boasts inventive and creative spins on Japanese favorites. They don’t accept reservations, so be prepared to wait, but thanks to its location on State Street, there are plenty of neighboring shops to help you pass the time.
What: Offering award-winning wine country cuisine, Bouchon also boasts an exclusively Santa Barbara County wine list. Seasonal menu changes and a long list of awards from the likes of Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator make the restaurant one of the city’s best, while it’s cozy interior feels welcoming for all.
Who: Ca’ Dario
What: For excellent Italian fare in a quaint, corner spot, head to Ca’ Dario where you’ll find authentic dishes and an extensive wine list. Given the restaurant’s consistently high ratings from Zagat and a devoted local following, reservations here are strongly recommended.
What: With flavors like Churros con Leche, Sea Salt Cream and Cookies, and Eureka Lemon and Marionberries, this classic ice cream shop is a must on your to-do list. Hit up their State Street location while on a stroll through the shops.
What: Los Angeles-based fashion designer Jenni Kayne opened her first lifestyle store in Montecito offering carefully curated homewares and children’s items. Tabletop pieces, entertaining items, glossy books, and more are available at the store, which features whitewashed pine and travertine details in a design by Standard.
What: Get a taste of wine country without driving the distance to the vineyards in an area of town known as the Urban Wine Trail. Tasting rooms from more than 25 wineries are located within just a few blocks of each other, boasting a comprehensive collection of Santa Barbara County varietals.
Who: Raoul Textiles
What: The only brick-and-mortar location of this wildly popular fabric line with a cult following, the Raoul Textiles store acts as both a showroom and workshop for the Santa Barbara-based company. Stop in for their hand-printed textiles, furniture, and home accessories.