Oh, Santa Barbara. ❤ Where do I even begin? This might be my favorite place we’re been to in California. But more on that later!
From Monterey we began a long four hour drive down to Santa Barbara, making a few stops along the way. First up was Sunstone Winery in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. Walking through the vineyards took me back to biking in Burgundy, France last fall. So peaceful!
Next we made a spontaneous stop at the charming city of Solvang. We drove past it on the way to Sunstone and just had to turn back and walk around. Known for its Danish heritage, Solvang has bits and pieces of Denmark such as the Little Mermaid statue, iconic windmills, and quaint cottages. I never got to visit Copenhagen when I was abroad (it’s on the top of my bucket list!), so I suppose this will have to do for now. 😉
We arrived in Santa Barbara later that afternoon, and decided to explore the Old Mission. I didn’t know missions were such a big thing in California! In fact, I’ve never even heard of them until this trip. I enjoyed looking at the Spanish-style architecture and loved the rose garden in the back. While I heard it’s very beautiful inside the mission, we decided to skip it to get lunch instead.
In the afternoon we went on a stroll along the shoreline before heading to Silvergreen’s for dinner. Silvergreen’s is awesome — it has cheap and delicious options and is located right across the street from Paseo Nuevo, a major shopping center. I especially loved the sunny side up bowl and strawberry smoothie from Silvergreen’s, and the steps at Paseo Nuevo are just so darling!
We started off the next day at the county courthouse, where we had a sweeping view of the Santa Barbara skyline.
From there we made our way over to Stearns Wharf via the famous State Street. Oh, I could window shop for days! We spent our afternoon at the wharf for some much needed resting and relaxation. A berry bowl from Backyard Bowls was just the perfect afternoon snack. They are so much cheaper here than on the East Coast – I swear if I lived in California, I would eat them all the time, ha!!
After grabbing a seafood dinner at Enterprise Fish Co, we drove over to Montecito to watch the sunset on Butterfly Beach. Santa Barbara has many beautiful beaches but we chose this one based on the raving reviews we read online, and it sure didn’t disappoint.
While Santa Barbara may be known as a resort destination, there are plenty of things to do on a budget. In fact, almost everything we did was free! I believe the only things we paid for were food, parking (which by the way, is super easy to find and very affordable), and a place to stay. The weather is also perfect — warmer than San Francisco but cooler (or so we’ve heard) than Los Angeles. I can totally see myself coming back someday!