My friend Winnie had really wanted to go to Santa Barbara, and since it was only a 1.5 hr drive away from Los Angeles, we decided to take an afternoon trip there for a few hours. Santa Barbara is the biggest city between LA and San Francisco. The drive up from LA was gorgeous in and of itself, especially when you’re driving along the coast.
The first place we decided to go was the Botanic Gardens, which were located in a more elevated part of the city. We drove through so many elegant and fairy-tale-like streets with gorgeous homes and beautiful views of the entire landscape (mountains in the back and the ocean on the side) the whole way to the gardens, that the drive was probably my favorite part of the entire city. The gardens have parking right by them and have an entrance fee of $10, but when Winnie and I went in there was no one by the gate to pay, so we just started roaming around. We stayed in the gardens for about an hour and never actually saw extravagant flowers on the trails we took, but the walks themselves were very peaceful and beautiful. We were both under the impression that hours could be spent walking the different trails in the gardens (there’s a Redwood Section, a TeaHouse Garden, and a Meadow Section amongst the trails), and this is something I would have done if we were there for more than a few hours, but we still had other parts of the city we wanted to see.
We then drove down State Street (which is the most popular street there), and it reminded me very much of 5th Avenue in Naples, Florida with stores and restaurants alongside the entire street, and a high-class feel to it. We parked right by Stearns Wharf and went to a restaurant called Casa Blanca for some Mexican food. I’m completely intolerant to spicy food unfortunately and everything on the menu was spicy, but the food and the service were nonetheless great. After the restaurant we went to Shoreline Park and took a short walk and watched some surfers along the beach. The park was definitely a pretty place to stop, walk around, and get a feel for the residents of Santa Barbara.
Our last stop was The Mission (as per a recommendation by our waitress). Wikipedia says that “Mission” buildings are located throughout California and comprised of a series of religious and military outposts established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1833 to spread the Christian faith among the local Native Americans. Santa Barbara’s Mission is a museum, (look on the site for hours and tours) a mausoleum, a retreat center, and a church, and is overall a beautiful place to visit. It’s also extremely close to the Botanic Gardens so something worth doing in the same day together. We didn’t get a chance to go in because it was too late, but it’s still a nice view to take in. Overall, Santa Barbara is a great place to visit for a few hours, and my guess is definitely worth an overnight stay too to see more and get a feel for the night life and more of the crowd (which we heard great things about while there). If you’ve been there, let us know what we missed!