Since I graduated high school, my mom and I have done semi-regular Mother/Daughter weekend getaways. It’s a wonderful way to spend some one-on-one time with my Mom while also getting out of town for some much needed R&R. I recently took a trip out to LA for work, and so my mom and I decided to check-out Santa Barbara for the weekend before.
We flew JetBlue directly from JFK to LAX (highly recommend the Mint seats) and from there rented a car and drove the 2.5 hours (with traffic) up the coast to Santa Barbara. You can also fly into Burbank or if you’re taking a shorter flight, Santa Barbara does have a small airport.
Where to Stay
Santa Barbara is full of beautiful luxury hotel options, but we decided to stay at the Belmond El Encanto and could not have been more pleased! The hotel is absolutely stunning – set into the hillside overlooking the town of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Coast. The “rooms” are all little cottages – done in a Mission or Spanish style – and are truly luxurious. The resort has everything on offer for the perfect R&R girls getaway: an infinity pool, a fitness studio, acres of lush gardens, a world-class spa, and a restaurant serving all meals (including my favorite, afternoon tea!) in a gorgeous al fresco setting.
Things to Do
- Lotusland – A must see for any garden lover, this former state features 37 acres of gardens housing 3,000 different species of plants from all over the world. Reservations are required for the guided tours, which take place Wednesday-Saturday at 10 am and 1:30 pm.
- Santa Barbara Mission & Rose Garden – Just a short walk down the hill from the Belmond, you can visit the Old Santa Barbara Mission, which offers docent tours. Across the way there is also a small park which houses the Mission Rose Garden. When we were there the roses were in full bloom and were absolutely stunning.
- Wine Tasting – Napa and Sonoma are not the only destinations for wine tasting. Santa Barbara is surprisingly a hugely popular wine tasting destination. While we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to drive into the valley and visit the wineries themselves, we did partake in the Urban Wine Trail and visit some of the tasting rooms in town. Our favorite was the Chukker Rose from the Happy Canyon Vineyard.
- Shopping – State Street in downtown is home to tons of amazing shops! Although they tend more towards the mainstream stores, rather than smaller boutiques. I still recommend wandering around downtown, and taking a trip down the pier.
- And of course, don’t forget the spa!
Where to Eat:
- Wine Cask – We stopped here for a glass of wine and a light lunch. The ingredients were so fresh. Don’t miss the cauliflower.
- The Lark – Everyone I mentioned Santa Barbara to recommended this place; even the locals were raving about it. So make reservations early and request a table outside on the patio if you can. The innovative, family style dishes are delicious but portions are large so come with an appetite!
- Les Marchands – Cute little wine bar right next to The Lark. Definitely worth a pre or post dinner drink.
- McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream – If you’re in need of an afternoon snack, look no further than this Santa Barbara staple. Founded in 1949, this shop looks like an old school ice cream parlor, but their flavors are fresh and innovative. Just divine!
- Dining Room at the Belmond El Encanto – California cuisine at its finest, with a gorgeous view and a signature retro dessert – Floating Island.