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The Perfect Santa Barbara Weekend Guide

Santa Barbara is the perfect long weekend location for a girls weekend or couples getaway. We just got home from a perfect long weekend and are already planning our return visit.

large palm trees set against a blue sky

Santa Barbara is beautiful ocean front town two hours north of Los Angeles. They have a local airport but for most out of state visitors it is easiest to fly into one of the Los Angeles airports and drive up. The gorgeous drive up the coast is well worth it.

Stay

We stayed at an Airbnb in Montecito since we were traveling with three other couples. It made for easy lodging and tons of fun. The house had a pool, bocce court, and plenty of room for everyone.

There are a number of boutique hotel options in the area, Bacara is wonderful if you want a seaside escape and the Miramar Rosewood is the place to stay if you’re looking for gorgeous grounds, the perfect seaside vibe, and top notch service.

Miramar hotel lawn with Adirondack chairs overlooking the Pacific ocean

Eat

Santa Barbara has no shortage of amazing restaurants. We were staying in Montecito, a darling little town just north of Santa Barbara so most of our choices were in their cute downtown area. 

Breakfast and Coffee

We enjoyed Jeannine’s for breakfast, the eggs Benedict and huevos rancheros were favorites.

Helena Avenue Bakery is another favorite of ours, it has a great patio and amazing pastries.

pastry case with croissants and sticky buns

Miramar Rosewood brunch is everything you’d expect out of a California cool resort. Amazing views, excellent mimosas, and $30 burgers. 😉

brick pathway overlooking the pacific ocean

Casual Lunch

Broad Street Oyster Company was a fun, quick bite in downtown Santa Barbara. We all ordered the lobster roll and margaritas!

Dinner

Bettina’s

An upscale wood fired pizza concept in Montecito. We did everything family style and the wine pairings were great.

Lucky’s in Montecito

A total throwback steakhouse experience. The service was impeccable and food even better. We all ordered entrees and did family style for side dishes and desserts. It was the perfect birthday dinner celebration spot.

Sushi Bar for a splurge and amazing experience. They received their first Michelin star recently and the chefs couldn’t have provided better service. They only seat 12 people, twice a night. It was such a great experience for our group.

Happy Hour and Tasting Rooms

Tasting Rooms in Santa Barbara are a great alternative for a full winery tour. The Urban Wine Trail has a map and descriptions of each neighborhood and wineries on the trail.

patio outside of wine tasting room. red umbrellas, wine barrels, and string lights
wine barrels stacked four high

If you’d rather have your wine curated for you, then the Santa Barbara Wine Collective is a great option. They have ongoing events and are open to the public on Wednesdays.

winery lawn with seating and string lights

Shop

There were so many cute place to window shop in both Santa Barbara and Montecito. Montecito had more boutique shops in their downtown and the Montecito Country Mart. Santa Barbara hosts all of the major retailers and few specialty shops on their famous State Street

yellow cassette tape artwork above console of books and gifts

Do

Spa Day

We had a perfect spa day at Float Santa Barbara. Tucked into downtown SB, it’s really convenient but still feels like a retreat with their secluded outdoor courtyard. The perfect addition to a girls weekend!

Wine Tasting

Although Napa is California’s notorious wine region, Santa Barbara has a lot to offer, particularly of the Pinot varietal.

There are two options for wine tasting in the area. You can visit the in town wine rooms or you can drive into the San Ynez Valley to visit the wineries for a traditional tasting and visit. That’s what we opted to do this time (we’ve done the tasting rooms on previous visits and they are the perfect solution if you’re short on time). We also snuck in a happy hour tasting at a local tasting room, Folded Hills, in Montecito that was great. 

red barn with string lights

We hired a driver through Wine Canyon Tours and he prepared the itinerary and picnic lunch for us. You can’t go wrong with any of the wineries up there but we visited Lincourt, Bella Cavalli, and Sunstone.

white barn with olive trees

Bella Cavalli winery was our first stop and one of our favorites. It was a private tasting hosted by the owner of the estate. He was knowledgeable and more importantly, fun and engaging! The grounds were lovely and were unique in also housing an equine stable and training facilities.

wine bar under olive trees

I’d really recommend the prearranged tour if you aren’t familiar with the area. All of our tasting costs, lunch, and private driving were included. If you are planning on driving and booking each winery yourself, plan on roughly $25-40 per winery for their wine flight menu.

Outdoor seating overlooking horse stables

All of the properties were beautiful and I’d say the San Ynez Valley has some great wines and has a more approachable wine scene than Napa.

beige stone building with arched window and trellis

Beaches

What’s a trip to California without taking in the gorgeous coastline? There are some swimming beaches (but I wouldn’t recommend it in the spring months as the Pacific is the cold ocean) but most of the shoreline are sweeping cliffs with amazing views. We walked along the beach and enjoyed the view of the water and the fantastic houses too.

Palm trees and mountains along the coast of california

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara is home to one of California’s beautiful and historic missions. It was built in 1786 and still hosts daily visitors and has an active congregation and daily mass. We were able to take in a service and it was very welcoming and the grounds are amazing. If you have time or are interested in the history of the California missions, it’s a great place to visit.

Santa Barbara mission roof line with palm trees
santa barbara mission courtyard with fountain and palm tree view

What to Pack

Like most of Southern California, Montecito’s dress code is casual cool. I describe the surroundings as a real life Nancy Meyers movie, so dress accordingly.

The great part is that you can get away with jeans anywhere or you can level up and really go for it on a night on the town.

What to Pack

You can find all of our travel adventures here. We love Hawaii and the California Coast

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