Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Pictures

Santa Barbara was an absolute dream! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in LA and I’m kicking myself for not having ventured up to SB sooner. It’s truly the best of both worlds… It’s a beach town, but still has an element of upscale living! You’ve got the beach and all that comes with that (surfing, sailing, lounging in the sand), but you’ve also got the mountains and can easily go on a hike in the morning and make it down to the beach for the afternoon. The shopping is great, the dining is even better, there’s a huge wine scene, the design and decor is top notch, and the people are wonderful, too. Plus, you’re a short drive from LA and so many other coastal towns along the California coast. Do I need to even mention the weather? 300+ days of sunshine. SIGN ME UP. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t checking out places to live while I was there… It’s that good, guys. I can’t wait to go back! And, you know, maybe move there one day.

My Santa Barbara Itinerary

It was no one’s fault but my own, but I had a heck of a travel day on the Tuesday I was to be flying to Santa Barbara. What should have been an easy flight into the beautiful Santa Barbara airport was derailed when I overslept and missed my flight out of Chicago. Whoops! I ended up flying into LAX instead and renting a car to drive up to Santa Barbara. It was a happy accident, though, because the 90 mile drive was absolutely gorgeous. A Tuesday afternoon well-spent and a much-needed hour or two to zone out in the car after messing up my morning!

Once I checked in at the Kimpton Canary hotel in downtown Santa Barbara, I was off to find some necessary caffeine! Handlebar Coffee came highly recommended and I not only got my usual iced almond milk latte, but tried their iced matcha, too. So good! I picked up a local energy bar there, too, and was blown away by how good it was. Wishing I would have taken a picture of the label, but it was delish! Right away, I was so shocked by how many young people were inside working from the coffee shop. I guess there’s a pretty decent amount of freelancers and creatives living in Santa Barbara! (And that’s probably where my wheels started to turn about moving west…)

After fueling up, I made my way to the Courthouse Clocktower for some aerial views of Santa Barbara! I made it just in time to snap some photos from the top, but be sure to note that the clocktower closes at 4:45pm so you’ll want to get up there with enough time to take it all in.

I did some shopping along State Street afterwards, which is where you can find all of your favorite stores, plus a few local boutiques, too. I’ll share my favorites in the shopping section below! What I loved about this area (in addition to being super close to my hotel!) was how the chain stores blended right in to the quintessential Mediterranean-style design that Santa Barbara is known for.

After picking up a few things, I made it back to the Canary to freshen up for dinner and head to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. I can’t recommend this spot more for dinner! The restaurant is right on the water, with the cutest blue and white striped umbrellas. It’s easy to pop out to the beach for some sunset photos and enjoy the evening under the heat lamps on the patio!

On Wednesday, I was up early for breakfast on the terrace at the Belmond El Encanto. The property is insanely gorgeous and we couldn’t resist doing a little wandering before heading up to hike Tunnel Trail. We hiked to the top of Inspiration Point, which was about 3.7 miles round trip! After our hike, I made a pitstop at The French Press (my favorite coffee shop in SB!) and went back to shower and get ready for the day. We had a quick lunch at Helena Avenue Bakery and then filmed a Facebook Live video with the chef at Les Marchands! (You can see a clip in my video recap below and check out the full video here!) Post-filming, I wandered around the Funk Zone for a bit and can’t wait to spend an afternoon (or two) visiting all of the different wineries on my next trip. We walked over to Stearn’s Wharf for some photos and then hopped on our bikes to ride down to Butterfly Beach! Along the ride, you’ll pass the Chromatic Gate art installation, which is an Instagram just waiting to happen. We had drinks on the patio at the Four Seasons Biltmore, which was absolutely incredible. I could have stayed there for hours!

We biked back to the wharf and dropped off our bikes before heading to Test Pilot for some pre-dinner cocktails. The tiki decor is so, so cute! Palm leaf wall paper, rope lanterns, swinging chairs, and the most photogenic drinks you’ve ever seen! We had dinner at Sama Sama Kitchen, which was incredible. Our server (Brandon) was absolutely amazing and I’m pretty sure we tried one of everything on the menu since we had such a big group! Highly recommend reserving a spot on the back patio if it’s a nice night.

On Thursday, I started my morning at French Press (again) before heading to the Santa Barbara Harbor for a breakfast burrito at On the Alley. We went for a morning sail with Sunset Kidd and the views of the town from the water were picture-perfect! Post-boat, I freshened up at the hotel before making my way over to the other wine district in Santa Barbara, El Paseo. We filmed another Facebook Live segment at Margerum Wine, where I got to make my own blend! #LifeGoals, am I right? (You can see the full video here!) I did some shopping and grabbed ice cream at McConnel’s before meeting the girls at Loquita for drinks and then heading to dinner at Angel Oak at the Bacara. (Which was, hands down, the most incredible dining experience we had on the trip! Highly recommend.)

I was so, so sad to leave on Friday, but I grabbed a coffee at French Press before getting on the road back to LA. I took it as a sign when the barista knew my name after just three days in town… I’ll definitely be back, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Getting to Santa Barbara

Planes, trains, and automobiles… There’s really no bad way to get to Santa Barbara! You can fly right into SBA (which I hear is the easiest airport ever!), take the Amtrak from LA, or even make the scenic drive. Getting around in town is super easy, too… Thank goodness for Uber and Lyft!

Where I Stayed

I stayed at the Kimpton Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara. I loved how it was so convenient to everything downtown and a quick car ride from everywhere else I went. Plus, the hotel also has bikes you can take out! Guests are greeted with a glass of vino at check-in, and there’s also a free happy hour each night in the lobby. During the day, there’s an infused water bar, which was great for filling up my new S’well bottle. I didn’t get a chance to eat at the restaurant, but I’ve heard great things. And there’s a lovely rooftop pool at the hotel, too!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Kimpton Canary Hotel Rooftop Pool

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Canary Hotel Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Canary Hotel Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hotel Recommendation

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Kimpton Canary Hotel Rooftop

Bows & Sequins S'well Water Bottle Jonathan Robshaw Collaboration

Shop my water bottle here!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Canary Hotel Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Kimpton Canary Hotel

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Canary Hotel Review

Santa Barbara Coffee & Breakfast Recommendations

The French Press  |  Can’t recommend this place enough! There are two locations and you can’t go wrong. Their Iced Almond Milk Vanilla Latte is TOO GOOD! Both places have outdoor seating, but the one on Anacapa is much bigger!

Handlebar Coffee  |  Another great spot for coffee or matcha lattes! A cute outdoor patio with umbrellas, too. Plus, there’s wifi so it’s a good spot to work remotely, indoor or out.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Handlebar Coffee

Helena Avenue Bakery  |  Delicious pastries and coffee, and you can also grab a quick sandwich for lunch if you’re in the Funk Zone!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Helena Avenue Bakery Funk Zone

Belmond El Encanto  |  The terrace is absolutely stunning and I’m convinced you can’t have a bad experience here! The breakfast was incredible, such a serene start to the day.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Breakfast at Belmond El Encanto

On the Alley  |  I grabbed a breakfast burrito here before hopping on a boat for the morning, so delish!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Breakfast Burritos at On the Alley

Jeannine’s Bakery  |  I didn’t have time for a brunch here, but it’s on my list for next time.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Jeannine's

Santa Barbara Lunch Recommendations

Lucky Penny  |  We didn’t have time to eat here, but I’ve heard amazing things about their pizza.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Lucky Penny Funk Zone

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Lucky Penny Funk Zone

Santa Barbara Wine Collective  |  Helena Avenue Bakery and SBWC are under the same roof… Grab a bite to eat and a glass of wine!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Wine Collective Funk Zone

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Helena Avenue Bakery Wine Collective Funk Zone

Green Table Matcha  |  A great spot for a smoothie or a healthy lunch! Plus, just as the name alludes to, lots of options for matcha.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Green Table Matcha Bar

McConnell’s Ice Cream  |  SO GOOD! Ice cream for lunch is totally a thing, right?

Backyard Bowls  |  This spot came highly recommended for a healthy lunch, but I didn’t have time to try it out.

Garrett’s Old Fashioned  |  I didn’t have a chance to eat here, but it came highly recommended and is on my list for next time!

 Santa Barbara Dinner & Drinks Recommendations

Les Marchands  |  We filmed the uni guacamole FB Live video here and if the little taste I got was any indication, I can’t wait to have a full dinner here on my next trip!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Les Marchands Funk Zone

Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach  |  Such a great dinner on the water! Try to ask for a table near the glass on the patio.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Boat House at Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach at Sunset

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sunset at Hendry's Beach

Four Seasons Biltmore  |  The terrace overlooking Butterfly Beach is incredible! We didn’t have any food, but the cocktails were great.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Biltmore Four Seasons

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Biltmore Four Seasons

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Biltmore Four Seasons

Test Pilot  |  A tiki-style bar that’s unbelievably Instagrammable!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Test Pilot

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Test Pilot

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Test Pilot Tiki Bar

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Test Pilot Tiki Bar

Angel Oak at Bacara  |  The whole experience at Angel Oak was stunning… Delicious food, amazing wine, gorgeous views, excellent service. Save your fanciest outfit for dinner here one night!

Sama Sama Kitchen  |  Such a good meal, couldn’t recommend it more! A great back patio for warm nights and we absolutely loved everything on the menu.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sama Sama Kitchen

Loquita  |  We only had drinks and a few apps (everything was amazing!), but this spot is a must-visit for dinner. Plus, the decor is top notch!

The Lark  |  The decor inside The Lark is incredible, but I didn’t have time to eat here. It’s on everyone’s must-eat list, though!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: The Lark Restaurant Funk Zone

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: The Lark Funk Zone

The Imperial  |  Another tiki-style speakeasy that came recommended by a friend.

The Good Lion  |  Another cute spot for dinner and drinks!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: The Good Lion

Santo Mezcal  |  In the Funk Zone! After hearing great things, can’t wait to go on my next trip.

Cold Spring Tavern  | Another place that’s on my list for next time!

Santa Barbara Shopping

Saks Off Fifth  |  SOF was right across from my hotel and I COULD NOT BELIEVE the selection when I walked in! So many cute finds that are actually currently available (for full price) at Revolve, Shopbop, etc. JOA, Lovers + Friends, Tularosa, and even a whole slew of Bric’s suitcases!

Make Smith Leather Company  |  So many gorgeous leather bags that are hand-made right there in the alleyway store! If you saw my new keychain on Instagram Stories, this is where I got it.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Make Smith Leather Company

Rooms & Gardens  |  I seriously want to move into this home store. Decor inspiration FOR DAYS! You have to go.

Blue Door Antiques  |  Another one that you absolutely MUST visit!!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: The Blue Door

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: The Blue Door

Evangelina Boutique  |  I stopped in here while walking through Paseo Nuevo and tried on a few things. Lots of inexpensive, trendy finds.

Montecito  |  You absolutely have to go shopping in Montecito! Whiskey & Leather, Blanka Boutique, Angel, Allora by Laura, and K Frank

Santa Barbara Activities

The Courthouse Clocktower  |  Great views of the city! The climb to the top isn’t bad, but there’s an elevator if you prefer.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Clocktower Climb

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the top of the Clocktower

The Funk Zone  |  The Funk Zone is an area in Santa Barbara that’s filled with murals and wine shops. Make it a point to spend a few hours!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Funk Zone

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Funk Zone

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Funk Zone Wine Room

El Paseo  |  El Paseo is the other winery-filled area in Santa Barbara, closer to downtown. Make sure to stop at Margerum Wines! I sent a few bottles home.

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Margerum Wine El Paseo

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Wine El Paseo

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Margerum Wine Tasting Room

Stearn’s Wharf  |  The area was probably the most touristy that I went, but you can’t beat the views from the wharf. Rent a bike and head out on the beach-front path!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Beach by Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Beach by Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Chromatic Gate  |  Don’t miss this spot for photos!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Chromatic Gate

Butterfly Beach  |  One of the best beaches in SB!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View of Butterfly Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Biking Butterfly Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Butterfly Beach

Sailing  |  We went out on the water with Sunset Kidd and absolutely loved the experience!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sunset Kidd Sailing

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from Sailing

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing with Sunset Kidd

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Pictures

Hiking  |  There are countless hiking trails in Santa Barbara! We hiked Tunnel Trail up to Inspiration Point, which took about 90 minutes round-trip. I’d say it was a moderate hike, nothing too crazy, but I felt like I got a nice little workout in!

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Tunnel Trail Hike

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hiking Tunnel Trail

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hiking Tunnel Trail

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Inspiration Point

**

Any other questions about the trip? Be sure to leave them in the comment section below. Or, if you have any other recommendations for my next trip, I’m all ears!

More snaps from Day 1…

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the top of the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the top of the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View from the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Top of the Clocktower

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Granada Theatre

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Granada Theatre

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide Restaurant Recommendations

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach at Sunset

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Hendry's Beach at Sunset

More snaps from Day 2…

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Stearns Wharf

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Chromatic Gate

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Chromatic Gate

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Chromatic Gate

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: View of Butterfly Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Butterfly Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Butterfly Beach

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Butterfly Beach

More snaps from Day 3…

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: French Bakery

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Santa Barbara Harbor

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Boats on the Harbor

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Santa Barbara Yacht Club

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Boats at the Harbor

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Santa Barbara Harbor

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Santa Barbara Boat Harbor

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Santa Barbara Yacht Club

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing with Sunset Kidd

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing with Sunset Kidd

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing with Sunset Kidd

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Review

Bows & Sequins Santa Barbara Travel Guide: Sailing Pictures

Created in partnership with Santa Barbara, California

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11 Comments

  1. 7.5.17
    Emily Cooke-Varin commented:

    Looking to plan a trip here late August ! Looks like heaven! Thanks for all the info!

  2. 7.6.17
    Society Fix commented:

    OMG, this place looks like heaven.
    http://societyfix.blogspot.com/

  3. 7.6.17
    Peppermint Dolly commented:

    Looks great! Loving your waterbottle!

    Rebecca
    xx
    http://www.peppermintdolly.com

  4. 7.6.17
    Charlotte commented:

    Santa Barbara wasn’t on my radar before this post but WOW it looks amazing and there’s a ton to do! Can’t wait to visit, hopefully sooner than later 🙂

    Really great guide, Jess, and the video was cute too!

  5. 7.6.17
    amanda commented:

    Hi Jess-

    Can you be a little more transparent about what you go on these trips for? I kept reading the word “we” but have no idea why you were actually there. Work? Fun? It would help to put your trips into context for your readers. I think a post about the logistics and what goes into planning these work trips would be interesting!

    Thanks!

    • 7.6.17
      Jessica commented:

      Hey Amanda! I noted at the bottom of the post that this was a trip I partnered with the city of Santa Barbara on. I went by myself, but was being hosted by the city of Santa Barbara. So for most activities, I was with a different member of their office, but I was alone exploring some of the time, too. There was also another blogger on the press trip with her husband, so all of our dinners were a bigger group together. It was most certainly a “work trip,” but obviously it was a lot of fun, too. I was given an itinerary that I had to adhere to, but had chunks of downtime where I would do things on my own that I had researched or gotten recommendations for. I was there to create content for their brand (Santa Barbara) and participate in their Facebook Live videos, etc. Hope this helps!

  6. 7.6.17
    Natalie commented:

    I also recently visited Santa Barbara for the first time. Honestly, it is one of the most beautiful places; I’m vowing to return every year! Your pics are such a pretty reminder of one of my favorite places on earth!

  7. 7.7.17
    chichi commented:

    what a stunning and relaxing place!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

  8. 7.15.17
    Misty commented:

    Thanks for visiting us at Test Pilot! We loved your article and pictures.
    Stoked you included us in your visit to beautiful Santa Barbara! Hope you can visit our sister bar as well on your next visit! The Good Lion is on State street by the Granada Theater! They are the first certified green bar on the central coast and specialize in craft cocktails like us with local produce! Making everything in house to make sure it’s the best quality ingredients!