CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ – Part 1 – Santa Barbara

Having returned from 2 wonderful weeks in California and gotten over my son’s *crazy* jet lag, I’ve finally managed to start writing about our trip. Can you imagine how much time has been spent researching it!? 😉

We flew into LA but decided not to stop there. Disney will have to wait for another trip (and blog entry?!). Our first stop was Santa Barbara. We then took the scenic Highway 1 drive up to Carmel before finally heading onto San Francisco.

20150619 California map

Our itinerary

I’m just going to write about Santa Barbara here otherwise I can see this post going on and on and on…..We decided to make it our first stop on the trip because it had been recommended to us for its climate, beaches, and things to do with the kids. We stayed in an Airbnb rental in the posh suburb of Montecito which was an easy 10-15 min drive into town. It would be hard to get around without a car so I would highly recommend hiring one. Parking is well catered for because no one here walks anywhere!

THINGS WE DID:

SB Museum of Natural History Sea Centre – Stearns Wharf
http://www.sbnature.org/twsc/2.html The kids enjoyed getting to stroke sharks and star fish. However, it was disappointingly small and we found it hard to fill more than an hour here. We followed up with a good lunch at the nearby SB Shellfish Company http://www.sbfishhouse.com/shellfish-co/

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Shark and ray touch pool

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Chatting with a pelican on Stearns Wharf

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Yummy oysters and lobster roll for lunch

Bike hire
http://wheelfunrentals.com/Locations/Santa-Barbara We hired a ridiculous bike from this place near the wharf which seated 4 adults and 3 kids. It was hard work but quite amusing – especially for the passers-by who saw us struggling to pedal along the coastal path to the zoo.

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Santa Barbara Zoo
http://www.sbzoo.org/ We weren’t originally intending to visit the zoo but the (very helpful) man at the tourist office said it was the best thing in the city to do with kids. And it was! Great size for younger children, you could bring a picnic and spend a good half a day here.

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SB County Courthouse
http://www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/sbch/Welcome.html Near all the shops and restaurants on the upper part of State Street. There is supposed to be a great view of the city from the top of the tower but unfortunately it was closed for renovation so the kids just spent half an hour blowing off some steam in the garden. We had a delicious meal at Arigato sushi afterwards http://www.arigatosb.com/

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Playing It in the gardens of the Courthouse

Farmer’s Market
http://www.sbfarmersmarket.org/index.php The Saturday morning downtown market is a great place to ogle and buy local California produce (mainly fruit and veg).

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Beaches
https://www.santabarbara.com/activities/beaches/ This guy has done a good summary of the beaches in the ‘hood. The Pacific was rather chilly so swimming is only for the brave.

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Butterfly Beach

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SB:

In town
SB Mission http://www.santabarbaramission.org/
SB Museum of Natural History http://www.sbnature.org/
SB Botanic Garden http://www.sbbg.org/
Sunday Arts & Crafts market http://www.santabarbara.com/community/art/artshow/
SB Maritime Museum http://www.sbmm.org/
SB Museum of Art http://www.sbma.net/index.php
Shoreline Park http://www.santabarbara.com/activities/parks/shoreline/

Out of town
Los Padres National Forest – lots of hiking trails
Solvang http://www.solvangusa.com/ popular Danish style town in the wine region 45 mins drive from SB.
Los Olivos http://www.losolivosca.com/ we decided not to visit the wine country with the kids but actually this town looked awesome when we drove past it.
Whale watching trip http://condorexpress.com/

Santa Barbara was a very pleasant, laid back place to recover from jetlag. Our stay here was idyllic, but it was time to move on up the coast. More about that in my next post!

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