California’s central coast is probably one of my favorite locations I’ve ever traveled to thanks to it’s unparalleled mountain views, coastal vibes and endless places to explore. A recent (and wonderful) getaway to Santa Barbara provided John and I the perfect opportunity to explore new spots in this region while revisiting our old favorites. On top of all the spots shared in my Insider’s Guide To Santa Barbara, I’m revealing even more hidden gems into this wonderful part of the Golden State. Warning: This guide may make you request vacation and book your trip as soon as possible because the American Riviera is an absolute perfect destination in California!
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Even locals sometimes forget about this unassuming spot in the heart of downtown. Widely know for its beautiful outdoor space, the museum is more than just a breathtaking wedding venue. With it’s Spanish influence and artifacts from a wide range of cultures, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is a quick visit not to be missed during your trip. Along side the collections inside the museum, it might just be one of the most photogenic locations in this Central Coast town.
Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail
Between blocks of downtown Santa Barbara and just steps away from the beach is the recently built up area referred to as the Funk Zone. Tasting rooms, restaurants with live music, galleries and bakeries fill the area that brings both locals and travelers alike to enjoy together. Fit for an afternoon of frolicking from tasting room to tasting room, the industrial feel meets Santa Barbara charm to create a hip and interesting spot just off of State Street to cure all your wine cravings!
Since John and I always have a wonderful time tasting wines from different regions of California, it was a no brainer that we’d want to find a solution to avoid spending $12-$15 per person, per tasting at each of the tasting rooms. Besides the sheer convenience of an all inclusive pass, we opted to find a way to experience the tasting rooms differently. We wanted to find a way that wouldn’t make us like we were wasting money if we decided to not finish each tasting in a wine flight. And we did!
While exploring new and upcoming experiences in Santa Barbara, I quickly found the perfect solution to an all access pass offered by The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. We picked up our passes from a tasting room off of State Street after checking into our hotel and we knew the rest of the weekend would be so much easier hoping from one tasting room to the next. For $150, the membership card gets you free tasting flights at all 28 tasting rooms and 10% off any purchase! The best part about this membership card is that it’s valid for an entire year after purchase, allowing you to go back time and time again to this upbeat and one of a kind wine trail! Click here to view all the tasting rooms in Santa Barbara while you begin to plan trip!
Solvang & The Santa Ynez Mountains
If you have some space in your Santa Barbara itinerary and are up for an adventure, going into the Santa Ynez mountains and exploring the small towns is an excellent way to switch up the scenery. Approximately 40 miles north of Santa Barbara is Solvang, a Danish inspired village filled with authentic restaurants, boutiques and a few wine tasting rooms sprinkled throughout the main street. Don’t miss the Danish pastries & æbleskiver at one of the many authentic bakeries!
Santa Ynez is widely known for its wineries, so be prepared to stumble upon some breathtaking properties in the area. The rolling green hills and endless wildflowers bloom in the late spring, so if you have a chance to visit during that time you will not be disappointed! Other activities in the area include horseback riding, Santa Ynez Valley Botanical Garden and exploring the small town of Los Olivos.
Cold Spring Tavern
By far one of my favorite off the beaten path adventures in Santa Barbara is having lunch and a beer at Cold Spring Tavern. About 20 minutes from downtown, this historic stagecoach stop has been converted to a full service restaurant. On the weekends, the tavern hosts large, sun soaked BBQ’s with live music, friendly crowds and the famous Tri-Tip sandwiches. An absolute must do while you are in the area and the drive up along Highway 154 does not disappoint!
If you’re looking for more California getaways, be sure to follow along on Instagram for daily inspiration! I’m always looking for recommendations, so please do share in the comments below if you have any recommendations!
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This post was made possible in partnership with The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that help made the blog a little more dreamy!