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A Weekend Guide to Sunny Santa Barbara

Surf, history, food and wine—Santa Barbara has it all. Here's a guide of must-see Santa Barbara hot spots for your next weekend adventure.
Photo by Will Stewart on Unsplash


Nestled under the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains in Central California, Santa Barbara is a picturesque, coastal city of bright, white, Spanish-style buildings with red-tiled roofs. Home to some of California’s oldest architecture and history, this stylish city manages to combine a sleepy, surf town feel with the hip, trendy vibes of an urban city.

While you could easily spend a full week exploring all that Santa Barbara has to offer, tourists often stop by for a weekend stay during their travels up or down the California coast.

Looking for a fun stop on your next California road trip? Look no further! We’ve put together a list of go-to spots for the perfect Santa Barbara weekend.

1. Where to Stay: The Kimpton Goodland

hotel lobby

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

Located in Goleta, slightly outside of downtown Santa Barbara, the Kimpton Goodland greets you with a dose of classic Santa Barbara vibes. This boutique motel-style hotel describes itself as “beach-chic,” and is sure to give you your fill of longboards, poolside sangria and delicious coastal cuisine. The newly refurbished hotel is a hot spot for those looking for a relaxing, fun time by the pool.

record shop

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

 

Note: If you’re looking for a luxury stay in Santa Barbara, you might consider a different hotel such as Four Seasons or San Ysidro Ranch. But if you’re looking for some casual, old school fun and charm, the Kimpton is the spot for you.

Hotel Bonus: Outpost Restaurant

french toast

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

The Kimpton has a restaurant on site that offers a delicious brunch! Start your morning off with free coffee in the lobby, followed by some brioche french toast that is sure to make any foodie swoon.

2. Where to Lunch: The Lucky Penny

The-lucky-penny.

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

The Lucky Penny is located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s famous “Funk Zone.” This outdoor gem is known for their delicious artisanal pizzas, made in their own wood-burning oven. But they offer more than just pizza—Lucky Penny also has mouth watering salads, hot and cold sandwiches, coffee drinks and baked treats. Their outdoor patio is the perfect place to sit with friends and family as you enjoy great food on a warm Santa Barbara day.

pizza and salad

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

 

What to Order: You can’t go wrong with their unique “Ode to Dan Russo” pizza with a fresh Quinoa and Arugula salad on the side. It’s also a perfect size meal to split with a friend.

3. Where to Drink: Santa Barbara Wine Collective

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

After filling your stomach with some oh-so-worth-it carbs at the Lucky Penny, the Santa Barbara Wine Collective is conveniently just a few steps away. While the streets of Santa Barbara are filled with incredible wine bars and tasting rooms, you will truly get an array of the diverse wines of Santa Barbara at the Wine Collective.

Carrying various selections from local wineries, this tasting room truly has something for everyone. The friendly and helpful staff go out of their way to make sure you are happy with your selection (offering generous free sips to get you started) and are well educated on wine types, pairings and flavors.

What to Order: On a warm summer day, a nice glass of 2016 Fess Parker Rosé is the perfect, refreshing wine you’re craving.

Bonus: Santa Barbara Wine Collective shares their space with Helena Bakery.

Helena offers rustic, homemade breads and handmade seasonal pastries. Their large glass window, which separates the bakery from seating area, allows visitors to see all of the baking magic in action. Their delicious sandwiches are a local favorite and come wrapped in adorable blue and white checkered paper—perfect for an on-the-go picnic lunch.

helena bakery

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

 

While the pastries change by season, if you can get your hands on some chocolate zucchini bread, you’ll be a happy camper. If you want cinnamon rolls and other breakfast pastries, you need to get there early because they go fast!

4. Where to Explore: Mission Santa Barbara

mission santa barbara

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

California natives know all about the famous missions that line California’s coast. These beautiful missions spread across California, totaling in 21 religious outposts established between 1769 and 1833. The beautiful, Spanish-style monuments were once home to Catholic priests of the Franciscan order, but now live on as California’s oldest structures and most visited historical monuments.

church santa barbara

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

 

Stop by Mission Santa Barbara for a guided tour, or simply walk the grounds to admire the old architecture and historical relevance. Sunday Mass is still held weekly at 9:00am and 11:00am, and is open to those who wish to worship with the congregation.

5. Where to Play: Santa Barbara Waterfront

waterfront

Photo by Jessica Tomkins

You can’t go to Santa Barbara without visiting the waterfront. The Santa Barbara waterfront offers activities that range from boat tours and paddle boarding to museum visits and shopping. Even if you don’t have time for a full day of water activities, you can always stop by to enjoy some fish and chips with a beautiful water view.

Where to Go: Brophy Bros has a downstairs bar with outside seating that looks over the harbor. This bar serves items off the delicious Brophy Bros menu, but at a lower cost. For a casual lunch, order their fish and chips with a Bloody Mary and enjoy watching the little boats as they sail in and out of the harbor.