Santa Barbara is perfectly burrowed between the sea and the mountains and has something to offer any visitor. A day trip to the city gives you beaches, coastal escapes and areas of mountainous wilderness. When I think of Santa Barbara, I think of beautiful weather, excellent ocean views, stunning architecture and great local food and that’s what I got during my visit.
Things to Do
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78-acre attraction that visitors need to see. The garden is dedicated to the conservation of California’s native plants. Throughout the garden are playhouses designed with nature in mind, so it’s a perfect place for kids and family to explore. The playhouses are constructed with plant-based materials to encourage everyone to play in nature while sharing the importance of plants.
All throughout this botanical garden are trails that lead to different landscapes that replicate California’s various environments, like the desert, which features cactuses, yuccas and agaves; the redwoods, which feature towering trees; and more.
Admission is $14 and children ages 2 and under are free.
While adventuring in Santa Barbara, another must-see destination is the Paseo Nuevo shopping center located in the heart of the downtown area. Not only does the shopping mall provide over 50 shops, but walking through Paseo Nuevo gives you an essence of the Santa Barbara lifestyle.
Just a few streets down, you can find Old Mission Santa Barbara, where two bell towers and a lush garden make this old building stand out. The San Ynez mountains also stand in the background, which make Santa Barbara a scenic landmark. When you walk through this old building, you can see history come to life as you explore the grounds and on-site museum. While admiring its architecture, visitors can explore the garden and look out on the expansive view of the city itself.
Things to eat
I’ve always wanted to have a meal beachside, so I went to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, located on Arroyo Burro Beach County Park. It’s arguably the most beautiful restaurant setting in Santa Barbara. There’s an outside patio and inside dining with wide windows for a beachside feel.
Because I was near the coast, I wanted to see how fresh the seafood was and I was not disappointed. The shrimp tacos had to be one of the best meals I’ve had. This colorful dish was well-seasoned and gave a small kick of spice. The dish was plated with two butterflied shrimp tacos topped with purple cabbage, pickled shallots and cilantro with a side of Spanish rice mixed with black beans and corn and guacamole and chips. For an average dish, it was an extraordinary taste.
I also recommend ordering the lobster and truffle mac ’n’ cheese. The dish was made up of cavatappi pasta, lobster, black truffle, gruyere cheese, leeks and bread crumbs sprinkled on top. Obviously, the lobster was the best part of the dish, but I couldn’t get over how light, creamy and rich all the flavors were paired with one another.
While the waitlist may be long at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, it’s worth the wait to sit beachside. ￼