Photo: Anette Estremera via Pinterest
California has a wealth of destinations begging to be explored, and Santa Barbara is one of its most accessible, laid-back, beautiful, and diverse. There, life— and a long-weekend getaway, mini honeymoon or girl's weekend— revolves around great beaches, delicious wine, locally grown food, and chilled-out activities. Here, our ideal itinerary for spending 3 days in Santa Barbara.
Afternoon: Arrive at desert-chic hotel The Goodland and, while checking in, pick out a few vinyl records to spin on your room's turntable. Otherwise, check into Bacara Resort & Spa for a plush Mediterranean-style five-star treat. The sun is almost always out, so go relax by the pool.
Evening: Before dark, head to Boathouse at Hendry's Beach for drinks— the Blood Orange Margarita is particularly good— and a half-dozen freshly shucked oysters in front of the breaking waves, where you'll have front-row seats to watch the sun dipping below the horizon. For a semi-casual dinner, Black Sheep is a safe bet— virtually the entire menu is rave-worthy, especially the bone marrow bruschetta and short ribs with pork belly. If you're up for a nightcap, return to The Goodland's Good Bar for a Whisky Smash and game of billiards.
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Morning: Wake up gradually with an opulent couples' spa treatment at the giant Bacara spa. You'll need your energy shortly for a vino marathon.
Afternoon: Have your hotel arrange a car service (or hop an Uber) to drive you 45 minutes into the valley to the quaint town of Los Olivos for some low-key wine tasting. Lincourt's sunny lawn and Adirondack chairs make it a favorite place to wile away hours; likewise for Rideau. The teeny main street tasting rooms of Carhartt and Beckmen are great stops before having a salad or turkey burger at Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe, which made a cameo in Sideways. Grab a decadent flight of mini wine-infused cupcakes at Saarloos & Sons for dessert.
Evening: If you have time, check out one of the nearby farms growing lavender, apples, peaches and raspberries, which you can pick yourself, depending on the season. Make your reservation for dinner at The Lark, a rustic-contemporary hot spot, well in advance. It's a must if you want to try their mouthwatering Brussels sprouts, octopus and pastas.
Morning: Take a hike up to Inspiration Point (about one hour round-trip), where you'll have a clear view of the entire coastline and Channel Islands. After the trek, you will have really earned brunch at Scarlett Begonia's featuring homemade biscuits, shrimp and grits, and mimosas.
Afternoon: Ask your hotel to help book a surfing lesson or standup paddleboarding session for two at Gaviota beach. If you want to learn to hang 10, this is one of the best places to start. Later, check out the Funk Zone— a poorly named but very cool district full of tasting rooms and restaurants. A late lunch of BBQ tri-tip at Wildwood Kitchen should fuel you up for more fine red vino varietals at Poteko, next door, and down the road at Kunin.
Evening: Wind down your trip with a stroll and window shopping down State Street, before sitting down to perfectly cooked Neapolitan-style pies— the margherita D.O.C. is a can't-miss classic— at Olio Pizzeria.