Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Justin and I took a trip to Santa Barbara for our one-year wedding anniversary and it was absolutely beautiful. Neither of us have been there before and it’s also our first trip this year because of COVID, so it was such a nice change of pace. If you plan to stay or stop by, here is a quick Santa Barbara guide that I’ve put together for you to enjoy!

Where to Stay

We stayed at Hotel Indigo which is a super cute boutique hotel located within a 3 minute walk from the beach. Each room has its own patio area which was a selling point. You have true privacy and it was perfect for those nights when you want to sit out and enjoy the great weather but still be socially distant from others.

where to stay in santa barbara

Where to Drink

Originally, we had planned to go to Napa for our anniversary because of our love for wine. That’s why Santa Barbara was a close second. When I started looking into it, most of what is in town in Santa Barbara is wine tasting rooms. I prefer the outdoor vineyard experience so we decided to stop through Santa Ynez on our way down.

Sunstone Winery

Since we went on a weekday, this super cute spot doesn’t require a reservation. We just walked right on up and they seated us right away. Their back extended patio was closed because it was a weekend which looked beautiful, so if you can go on a weekend, I would recommend that.

Gainey Vineyard

This spot does require a reservation but it’s so worth it. It’s nestled right in the vineyard so you’re surrounded by beautiful greenery. They also offer 6 tastings for $20 per person which is such a good deal considering the size of their tasting. They go over each of the wines with you but what I loved is that since they give you this set up, it’s self pour and you can take your time!

gainey vineyard
gainey vineyard wine tasting

Where to Eat

  • On our way into Santa Ynez we stopped at Ellen’s Danish Pancake House. This cozy little spot is very diner like and definitely nothing fancy but the portions do not disappoint! We got a standard breakfast (eggs, bacon, hash browns), and the serving size was amazing.
  • Hook & Press Donuts has delicious donuts! They’re similar to what you would find at Voodoo donuts but just not as overrated. You’ll want to go to this place early to get a good selection though.
  • We had brunch at Chad’s CafĂ© and they have something for everyone here from American to Spanish. It gets pretty crowded so you’ll want to try to go early and they also have really hefty portions.
  • If you’re looking for something really upscale, The Stonehouse is absolutely beautiful. The outdoor seating area is pretty extravagant with the only light being sparkly lights on the ceiling. The food is also delicious!
  • Santa Barbara Shellfish Company is the last place we went to for lunch before heading home. This was where we were able to get our seafood fixing. Delicious food, a little heavy on the grease but I would have to say that the crab roll was surprisingly full of crab!
  • We wanted to try Zaytoon but they aren’t open on Monday nights so I can’t recommend them personally, but I would suggest that you check them out and see for yourself. Their outdoor seating area looks super cute from the pictures.

What to Do

  • Before making your way to Santa Barbara (if you’re heading down from North) I would highly recommend stopping in Solvang. It is the absolute cutest little Danish town that we went through on our way to the wineries.
  • Stearns Wharf of course! This cute little wharf has places to eat and little shops to visit if you want to get any souvenirs.
  • The first night we walked through downtown so the shops were closed but they have lots of bars and restaurants to visit.
  • The one thing we didn’t get to do was to rent bikes but we’ll definitely do that next time. It looked super fun and they even have the two person electrical bike!
  • If you haven’t gotten your wine craving satisfaction yet, there are lots of tasting rooms to choose from.
  • And what would Santa Barbara be if you don’t just chill on the beach and enjoy the beauty of it all.

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