The American Riviera // Santa Barbara

This past weekend Myles & I made our way to Santa Barbara for a getaway. On multiple occasions we’ve driven through the charming coastal town but this time we made it a point to stay and experience, “The American Riviera” a rightful nickname earned by the Mediterranean climate, picturesque coastline and brimming red tiled rooftops.

We left pacific beach 7 a.m. Saturday morning and three hours later we pulled up to our destination, The Montecito Inn, a boutique hotel situated in an upscale suburb in Santa Barbara. The Montecito Inn encompasses a by-gone era charm with understated elegance and swanky appeal. The luxury boutique hotel pays homage to a rich history & Charlie Chaplin but still maintains an up-to-date modern feel. Our stay here was nothing short of fabulous. Amenities like 24 hour coffee, tea, flavored water, heated pool & hot tub, complimentary breakfast, beach cruisers (to name a few) drew us in from the getco. We were immediately welcomed by the hotel staff and though we couldn’t check into our suite right away, we were assured that we could leave our bags and begin to indulge in the hotel amenities. Wasting no time, we grabbed a map, our suits and headed poolside to go over the weekend itinerary.

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A bevy and some rays later, we were ready to explore. We mounted our complimentary beach cruisers and coasted our way along the beautiful scenic path that parallels the infamous butterfly beach.

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Three miles later we parked the cruisers and climbed up the to the roof deck bar to get our hands on the best no fuss Bloody Mary in SB at BrophyBros located on the Santa Barbara harbor. If you like a great bloody, make it point to get one here and take in the incredible views.

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After the bloody fix, we peddled a few blocks to downtown Santa Barbara. You can literally spend a whole day strolling down the brick lined sidewalks to explore the infamous State Street lined with world class shopping and local eats. Though, for some, this may be a form of relaxation, after about a half hour into bopping around shops, we re-directed our feet and our attention to a more stimulating and riveting area in downtown SB known as the FUNK ZONE !  Art, treasure hunting, music, fine dining, historic sites, entertainment, wineries & tasting rooms – it’s all within walking distance in one convenient location (and steps away from the beach). Can I get a FUNK YEA? SantaB4

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Nothing against Napa or Sonoma, but I must admit it, Santa Barbara County produces some of California’s favorite wines. As a result, there is a booming collection of wineries and tasting rooms within the FUNK ZONE. No need to hire a driver, any day is a good day to hike the Urban Wine Trail. If you find a wine love you can likely pay a visit the vineyard as Santa Barbara is located just 19 miles from Santa Ynez Valley, which is home to more than a hundred wineries and vineyards as well as an active craft beer scene. One of my favorite tasting spots from the trip was our tasting at the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. The folks at SB collective were welcoming, down to earth, knowledgeable and passionate. We indulged in 3 tastings. The first, Fess Parker, which featured 5 fruit forward Rhone Varietals. The second tasting was The Paring, The Hilt, & Jonata which also featured 5 superb tastings and last tasting was with Notary Public. We enjoyed the tasting so much that we walked away with two bottles to add to the collection and a new favorite label to follow.SantaB1

There are countless dining options in downtown Santa Barbara and surrounding areas. We indulged in a lot of local cuisine but my top culinary experience took place at the The Lark Santa Barbara. The ambiance was captivating and the senses were invigorated.The menu is locally sourced and responsibly grown only using seasonal ingredients based on the abundant bounty available on the Central Coast. Food is served family style intended for sharing. The Lark’s full bar features classic as well as craft cocktails using the finest in artisan spirits, mixers and seasonal fruits and vegetables.The comprehensive wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers and artisan winemakers from afar.Top three dishes from our experience were as follows…SantaB5

House made Gnocchi & Dungeness Crab Spanish chorizo, navel orange, castelvetrano olives, lobster roe, cilantro

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“The Special”

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Smoked Pork Belly, Roasted blackberry, almond brittle, pickled summer peppers, housemade chicharron

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Other local eats that were palette pleasing,satisfying and absolutely rant worthy is Jeannines Restaurant & Bakery and Mony’s Mexican Food Taqueria. These two, along with the LARK are top notch. Make sure add them to your list I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. SantaB32

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Though there was a lot of food and drink to enjoy, our cycling (our main mode of transportation) had us indulging in the natural beauty that envelopes Santa Barbara. We trekked to the highest points and sought out hot spots such as, “The Moreton Bay Fig Tree” which spreads out over 160 feet, generates more than 21,000 square feet of shade and it is the largest of its kind in the nation. Now that’s getting figgy with it.

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We accomplished a lot in the short time. There is still so much to share, but I will say, we ended the trip on a sweet note and nothing tops off a weekend of exploring like a lovely bubbly & cupcake tasting. So excited to return with friends our next time around!

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