Santa Barbara is a great place to visit but because it is awkward to get there from Sacramento I had not visited in years. Until UK Sarah selected it as our destination for our US adventure this year. It was an absolute joy from the food to the lodging to the variety of activities available. Then this is always a beach if you just want to veg.
The hardest part was navigating to and from LAX for the all important pick up and drop off to Air New Zealand. LA traffic. Need I expound?
It took us a little over 3 hours to drive north from our breakfast stop in Santa Monica. We were not in a hurry and the views are at times lovely. We were there before fire season thankfully. The sky was gray in the morning followed by a lovely blue in the afternoon. The temperature was perfect for walking in the botanic gardens and cycling along the waterfront.
We stayed at the Harbor House Inn and found it easy to walk almost everywhere we wanted to go or to use the guest cycles to pedal to the downtown shopping or along the shore. The first night we walked to the harbor and enjoyed amazing chowder and seafood at Brophy’s. The next morning we walked around the corner to the only remaining (and original) Sambo’s restaurant. I have so many memories of breakfast and lunch with my grandparents Olson at the Santa Rosa Sambos. I had to relive this experience. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has changed… menu, decor, and politically incorrect name.
On our first full day we checked out the Old Mission Santa Barbara somewhat of a misnomer since it is still an active Catholic church. It is a great way to get grounded in the history of Santa Barbara.
After a refreshing break at the Daily Grind, we visited the beautiful Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The warm afternoon had us seeking the shadier walks and moving just a little slower. There is an interesting early water irrigation system and some beautiful old trees.
You may also reach Santa Barbara by train. One of the other group of guests at our Inn had walked a couple of blocks from the train station with their luggage. Almost everything is walkable or biking distance from the Inn so it makes a completely viable car-free option.