Plan Your Next Rad Road Trip With Our Ultimate Guide To Santa Barbara

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Dozens of images come up when our mind sweetly wanders to the historic mission town of Santa Barbara: palm trees and pleasantries, organic eats, Oprah's mega-manse, suntans and sand beneath our toes, hot surfer dudes…the list goes on and on. The city plays host to upscale urbanites, mavens of mellow, and even on-the-fly overnighters. It's really the ultimate territory to explore for any kind of escape artist.

And, lucky for us, it's only a two-hour motor from the heart of L.A. Whether you're a spa junkie or a culinary queen, we've got a to-do list spanning from State Street to Montecito that grants the best quest in the West. So, pop on those chic sunnies, wander on up PCH, and let this future vacay welcome you with all of its perks!

slide1 Photos (clockwise from left): Via Bouchon Food, Canary Hotel, Santa Barbara Famers Market, Coral Casino

Canary Hotel
Looking for a cozy place to crash that’s in proximity to historic hotspot State Street? We suggest checking out the swanky Canary Hotel. It’s located right on bustling shopping strip, so you’re a skip away from all the hip retail haunts and restos, but still secluded enough to enjoy your Santa Barbara sojourn in peace.
Canary Hotel, 15 West Carrillo Street (Near Chapala Street); 805-884-0030.

Coral Casino
Sure, you may have to be a member, or be staying at the Four Seasons Biltmore across the street, but it is worth it to at least pop by and have a light lunch (if you can swing it). The sweeping views, stunning architecture, huge lap pool, and lounge-y ambiance are only a few of the offerings this top-notch joint has. Plus, we hear it’s the place to be if you want to spy celebs like Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston.
Coral Casino, 1260 Channel Drive (Near Olive Mill Road); 805-565-8285.

Santa Barbara Farmers Market
Who doesn’t dig shopping around for fresh foodie finds — especially on a cool, coastal afternoon? The Santa Barbara Farmers Markets hosts an array of color-soaked produce every Tuesday and Saturday. It’s a collaborative market with a diverse atmosphere, and supplies eco-conscious customers with tasty, locally grown eats on the reg. We advise picking up a few organic avocados, and warm, ready-to-serve mini pies. Nom.
Santa Barbara Farmers Market, 232 Anacapa Street (Near East Montecito Street); 805-962-5354.

Tecolote Book Shop
Nestled in the breathtaking Montecito community, this one-of-a-kind bookstore has been around for over 80 years. The lush interior — from the beautiful shelving to the carpets — make this a marvelous place to display tomes. And once you’ve found your book of choice you can pop outside, read, and enjoy the hilly surroundings. Sounds like a perfect day to us.
Tecolote Book Shop, 1470 East Valley Road (Near San Ysidro Road); 805-969-4977.

Lewis and Clark
You can’t come back from a trip empty handed now, can you? Those on the hunt for a Santa Barbara souvenir may want to bounce over to Lewis and Clark. This place has the goods if you’re looking for cute, unique items you won’t find anywhere else on State Street. From vintage opera glasses to domino sets, this charming shop is an unexpected hit.
Lewis and Clark, 1116 State Street (Near East Figueroa Street); 805-962-6034.

The Wine Cask Restaurant
We love this Santa Barbara dining staple for many reasons. The romantic vibe is upscale, but still cozy and comfortable. It boasts a colorful wine selection (would you expect any less from a Santa Barbara resto?), and the mushroom risotto is finger-lickin’ good. This is the stop for diners that don’t want the frills or hoopla, but are still in need of wow-worthy bites.
The Wine Cask Restaurant, 819 Anacapa Street (Near East De La Guerra Street); 805-966-9463.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
In a city so rich with striking artifacts, a trip to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is definitely in order. Not only does this intimate space feel more like a teensy gallery than an actual museum, but it also is a lovely way to brush up on the history of the city. You’ll want to check out the pretty pieces that populate this quaint spot.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street (Near West Anapamu Street); 805-963-4364.

Julienne Restaurant
They had us at “farm to table.” Really though, this sustainably-minded dining haven cooks with only the freshest ingredients found at surrounding farms (usually within 30 miles). Nothing piques our interest as much as eating an entirely self-sustained meal while watching the Santa Barbara sunset — so good. We highly recommend booking a reso at Julienne.
Julienne Restaurant, 138 East Cannon Perdido (Near Santa Barbara Street); 805-845-6488.
slide2 Photos (clockwise from left): Via Peregrine Gallery, Lily Living, Pierre Lafond, Opal Restaurant

Peregrine Galleries
A trip to Santa Barbara isn’t complete without exploring the creative offerings the city boasts. And for a shopping experience unlike any other, Peregrine Galleries is the go-to. At this much-lauded gallery you’ll find a hearty mix of American art and vintage jewelry. It’s one of our faves.
Peregrine Galleries, 1133 Coast Village Road (Near Butterfly Lane); 805-969-9673.

Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara
This hip hotel is located directly across the street from the ocean, and just a short walk to State Street. The rooms are adorable and the hotel offers free bike rentals (score). This is a top contender for lovely, beachside lodging. Rest your head here, for sure.
Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara, 202 West Cabrillo Street (Near Bath Street); 805-965-4577.

Lily Living
It may be located in the heart of Montecito, but wander into Lily Living and you’ll feel as if you’ve landed smack-dab in the middle of a European boutique. The elegant, pint-sized shop sells linen, jewelry, and furniture. It’s too cute to pass up.
Lily Living, 1131 Coast Village Road (Near Butterfly Lane); 805-695-0925.

Letter Perfect Stationery
Letter Perfect is your cup of tea for personalized little forget-me-nots. Here you’ll find an abundance of keepsakes from stationary to pillows. We’re going to put money on it that you’ve never seen a stationary store as charming as this.
Letter Perfect Stationery, 1150 Coast Village Road (Near Middle Road); 805-969-7998.

Old Mission Santa Barbara
One of the oldest Missions in the state, this Santa Barbara must-see is not just full of history; it’s also alarmingly picturesque (as it overlooks the gorgeous Channel Islands). The enchanting architecture, unique landscape, and expansive surroundings are like something out of a film. And it’s just as gorgeous inside, too. Tip: Cough up the dough for the tour. You won’t regret it.
Old Mission Santa Barbara, 2201 Laguna Street (Near East Los Olivos Street); 805-682-4713.

Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina
Some of the best Mexican in SoCal — kid you not. Unwind from your jam-packed day of sightseeing with a fresh, flavorful burrito at Carlitos. Don’t forget to wash it down with an award-winning marg. Amazing.
Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina, 1324 State Street (Near Arlington Avenue); 805-926-7117.

Boathouse at Hendry's Beach
Now that all the sightseeing and shopping is out of the way head over to one of Santa Barbara’s most famous watering holes. Brimming with sun-soaked views, this beachside bar is one to hit up for before you jet back to reality. We hear the rum punch is a mighty fine option.
Boathouse at Hendry's Beach, 2981 Cliff Drive (By Alan Road); 805-898-2628.

Santa Barbara Walking Tour
If you ask us, there’s no better way to catch the sights and sounds of the city than frolicking around the streets. A Santa Barbara walking tour is a terrific way to absorb all the views, and get a brief lesson in Santa Barbara 101. You’ll learn about everything from the life-size statues to the ancient architecture that fill the city.
Santa Barbara Walking Tour, 133 East De La Guerra Street (At Santa Barbara Street); 805-687-9255.