After my first and busy semester as a Master’s student at USC, my family came to visit me and we decided to make a day trip to Santa Barbara for the first time. The city is located about 95 miles (90 minutes) north of Los Angeles along a curving coastline and is situated in a valley resulting in an interesting scenery where you see the ocean on one side and green rolling hills on the other side. Moreover, unlike many other American cities, the Downtown does not contain any skyscrapers at all. It’s all low white Spanish-style buildings and houses.
It is a prime place to enjoy the wonderful California outdoors. A fun activity if you have a day to spend in Santa Barbara is to rent a bicycle and ride along the boardwalk. My family and I decided to go on a nice walk but there were a lot of bicyclers around. If you plan to rent a bike, check out Wheel Fun Rentals on Cabrillo Boulevard.
We then head to the historic pier, Stearns Wharf, which is right on the water and offers many attractions. The city’s harbor is right behind the pier. You can take a harbor tour on the Santa Barbara Water Taxi from there or learn about the region’s wildlife at the Natural History Sea Center. There are also many specialty shops where you can buy from candies to jewelries. Stearns Wharf hosts a number of events throughout the year. One of the most popular is Fourth of July when the wharf comes to life with live music, food, and many other activities.
The best way to get to Santa Barbara from USC area is definitely via car. However, the city has a good public transportation system compared to LA and it is cheap. The Downtown-Waterfront electric shuttles only cost 50 cents and run until 6 p.m. on weekdays and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
After exploring part of the city, we stopped at FisHouse for lunch. It is a casual waterfront restaurant serving fresh seasonal seafood with beautiful ocean views and an outdoor patio. The food was delicious and they also have great cocktails! Santa Barbara definitely does not have a shortage of restaurants, many of which serve American cuisine and seafood.
If you like wine tasting, there is the Urban Wine Trail, which is a collection of tasting rooms located within blocks of each other featuring the best wines in Santa Barbara.
I also recommend checking out the Old Mission Santa Barbara if you are interested in the history of how the city began. There is also a Rose Garden across the street with some nice views of the ocean and mountains.
There is still a lot to explore in Santa Barbara. One day was not enough and I would love to go back there again soon!
Here are some links for more information about Santa Barbara:
See you in my next post!