I love Santa Barbara. Seriously. One of my best friends in the world lives in this magical beach city & so I head down there a few times a year. It always impresses me. The main beach in Santa Barbara is absolutely picture perfect. They also have a great downtown, which has a ton of chain shops (lame), but also a ton of non chain shops & great restaurants. Yum!
I really enjoy The French Press, a cafe on State Street (actually, there are two downtown locations) that brews its own coffee (Castle Roasters as seen below) and has some pretty tasty pastries. It’s expensive, but you really can’t beat it for a cute place to get caffeinated and hang out; both locations have a great vibe.
Another favorite, for lunch or dinner, is The Natural Cafe. Apparently it’s a locally owned chain in southern California, but I don’t mind as I just like that it has really good quality and healthy food. I also enjoyed Casa Blanca for dinner one night. It’s a Mexican restaurant that’s not just a taqueria: I loved their yummy Margarita (which was served in a big old blue up glass) and the fish tacos, guacamole, and chips & salsa all hit the spot. They have an unlimited make your own Taco Tuesday and some great Happy Hour deals.
If you’re wandering around downtown, you should also check out the Santa Barbara Mission. It’s one of the prettiest California Missions if you ask me.
This time around I was in Santa Barbara for a wedding. The wedding of my oldest friend in the world, actually; we were first introduced as babies crawling around on the floor when our mothers were in a baby group together in the 90’s and we’ve stayed close ever since. I went down the week before the wedding and stayed in the house that her mother rented in Montecito (a small town on the hill that’s technically a part of Santa Barbara, but also isn’t; people like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres live here).
We did a lot of wedding week chores, but we also parked ourselves in the backyard to relax. They had an infinity pool… an INFINITY POOL in the backyard, people. And a view of Downtown Santa Barbara and the ocean.
I literally couldn’t imagine a more perfect paradise for the week. We did a little tanning (with sunscreen on, I promise Mom!) and some swimming and ended every day with an evening of relaxation in the hot tub. You could definitely sign me up for this again.
The property, just like Santa Barbara in general, had a TON of bougainvillea plants. They miiight just be my favorite flower, so I spent a lot of time enjoying them.
Here’s my gorgeous friend, Rae. She looked fantastic at her wedding, but she also looked fantastic in the week leading up. That’s my hat. We needed a little shade and a little glam, ya know?
Here she is in the infinity pool… I can’t even explain how much of a dream it was to swim in here. The pool wasn’t huge, but I’ve never lived anywhere with a pool before and as a water loving human being, I gotta say that I was totally hooked. If I ever have a pool in my own home, you won’t be able to get me out. Seriously.
Here’s that insanely amazing view of Santa Barbara that I was talking about. Holy wow, right?!
This was our house…
And our pool…
When Sam saw photos of the place he said, “You didn’t tell me you were staying at Hearst Castle!” It was a six million dollar home and it was fabulous.
The real reason I was down in Santa Barbara was the wedding of course – you can see the whole day of the wedding on my wedding photography blog here. It was a super beautiful day and we had the most gorgeous sunset. We were out on Stearn’s Wharf at the Sea Center for the wedding (which you should visit so that you can see these views and also so that you can go in and pet sharks!), so we got to watch the sun sink below the mountains from the water. It was pretty gorgeous and of course the palm trees all along the ocean in Santa Barbara is just SO classic southern California. Love it!
The day after the wedding we spent the morning recovering from the fun with all of the other out of towners at a little wedding brunch that the mother of the bride hosted. It was a good way to start the day – bagels, doughnuts, coffee… You know the drill. Everybody spent the morning going over all the details of how wonderful the wedding was.
We spent half an hour walking along the sand, but we were too tired to really make a beach day, so we headed back up California’s Highway One for a little homeward bound roadtrip.
(This is definitely not the first time I’ve done this drive. Assorted related posts here: Highway One California Roadtrip, Beachfront Hotel in Monterey, California, Places to stay and a HotelTonight Promo Code, Highway One and Montara Beach, Roadtripping Down Highway One in California, Getaway Weekend in Inverness, Perfect Day in Santa Cruz, Local’s Guide to Half Moon Bay, Driving down the California Coast…)
We tried not to stop too too much since we wanted to make it home before it was too late, but we couldn’t help ourselves from stopping to appreciate views like this. Right?! There is a LOT of stunning coastline along the one in Big Sur; people have favorite places to go, but mostly I think you can’t go wrong if you just stop whenever you feel like it.
That being said, I really love McWay Falls. It’s one of those classic views that you’ll see a gazillion photos of on Instagram or whenever you search for tips on where to stop. It should get old, but it really never does. It is SO beautiful. SO so.
This time we got insanely lucky. We were driving along and I happened to look over right at the right time and saw a bunch of wales breaching. They were puffing water up into the air in a classic whale spout and just generally playing in the water. We pulled over immediately of course, just to appreciate them, but then when it appeared that they weren’t going anywhere, we continued on to see if we could get any closer. In the most magical of moments, we found a perfect spot on the highway at McWay Falls, jumped out and ran down to the famous viewpoint. They were still there and so we had about half an hour of just appreciating the whales; they even stuck their tails out of the water a few times! It’s the closest I’ve ever seen whales from the coast before and it was just insanely magical to see!
Other places that I’m dying to stop along the Highway One: Madonna Inn, Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur Bakery, Nepenthe, Esalen… There are a lot of really beautiful, really expensive places to stay. The famous campsites at the Julia Pffeifer Burns State Park are also on my dream list, but there are only TWO and so it’s really hard to get a reservation.
We didn’t make it home until quite late. We stopped at the Chipotle in Carmel for dinner, which was great, and then continued on in the dark. We listened to Pandora and country music on the radio and the same songs we’ve been listening to on Sam’s iPod for a few years. We chatted about the wedding we had been to and the whales we saw (can’t stop talking about those!) and plenty of random things, too. Roadtrips are good for that: totally, 100% catching up.
The moon rise over the mountains was gorgeous. Actually, all of it was gorgeous. I keep using that word to describe this week… because that’s the best word I’ve got. Santa Barbara was full of happiness for me, this time around. It usually is. You should visit!
All photographs by Simone Anne for We Are Adventure.us. Please don’t reproduce without permission!