Rediscovering Santa Barbara, Part II

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Santa Barbara is so much fun. We enjoyed the food, the surf, the history, the shopping, and the sunshine. When my friend UK Sarah chose it for our USA adventure I was not sure there was enough to do. It had been a few years since I last visited. I need not have wasted a moment worrying about getting bored.

One morning we drove up to Lake Cachuma and saw the terrifying impact of the lingering drought on the lake levels. Otherwise we found plenty to occupy ourselves right in Santa Barbara–almost all within a few miles from our lodgings at the uber comfortable Harbor House Inn.

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The person checking us in recommended we make a reservation at Toma Restaurant and Bar. We are so glad we did. We dressed for dinner and walked the short 2 blocks to the restaurant. We were quickly seated and met our waiter Stephen. He noticed Sarah’s accent and began teasing her and she dished it right back. The food was wonderful but the highlight was when he sprinkled rose petals across the white table cloth and served a dish to “the Queen.’ We were all broad smiles by the time we finished our after dinner coffee. The food is Mediterranean inspired and one of the most elegant and delicious meals I have enjoyed anywhere in California. At the time I am writing this post, Toma is the number 1 rated restaurant in Santa Barbara on TripAdvisor.

We also enjoyed authentic spicy tacos at Lilly’s Taqueria and coffee more than once at Santa Barbara Roasting Company. On the final night we decided to drive up the coastline a mile or so to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. I devoured the most delicious crab legs. I only dare eat seafood (and then just crab) once a year as I often get hives. When I saw an order going by I knew I had to have them tonight. We dined outside and enjoyed the million dollar view of the sea and the beach.

We found time to explore a premium stationery shop and a used bookstore, to read and to nap. With the Inn’s bicycles we had more freedom to explore independently. We also cycled together to the trail’s end at the shore. We could have kept going away from the coastline but chose to turn around and explore the pier instead.

I can easily imagine spending a week in Santa Barbara. Our king room at the Inn had a kitchen so we could prep some meals at home for a change of pace. Everything, except getting there, is so easy. In fact, Santa Barbara epitomizes relaxed elegance.

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