Santa Barbara Travel Guide

by | Destinations, Travel

Santa Barbara is a wonderful weekend getaway.  Peaceful and beautiful, the perfect place to rest and recharge.  I am happy to finally be sharing my Santa Barbara travel guide with you today!

My husband was so wonderful and planned a long weekend getaway to Santa Barbara for us last June. Between work and our middle daughter graduating from high school and all the events around that, it had been a very busy spring and he knew I needed a break! I was so happy that he took the lead on planning a wonderful trip.  I shared the What I Wore in Santa Barbara post right after our return but the summer got busy so I never finished the guide!  You can see our more of our time in Santa Barbara with more photos and video on my Instagram Stories Hightlight: Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.  It was established with the Mission Santa Barbara in 1786 under Spanish rule.  Santa Barbara lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  Santa Barbara is often referred to as the American Riviera because the climate is similar to the Mediterranean.  Gorgeous Spanish Mission style architecture dominates this beautiful area.  It was one of the original Hollywood retreats from Los Angeles.

Getting to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara was an easy three hour direct flight from DFW airport. We flew on American Airlines. Even the airport is beautiful in Santa Barbara and sets the tone for the beautiful mission style architecture.

Where to Stay

Belmond El Encanto – We stayed at the gorgeous Belmond El Encanto Hotel, in the hills of Santa Barbara.  It is a truly dreamy property and cannot wait to return! The original Hollywood getaway, El Encanto has been restored to it’s 1920s glory with more than 7 acres of lush gardens dotted with 92 suites and cottages.  It is a peaceful respite from the busy world and the perfect place to rest and recharge with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Other hotels

San Ysidro Ranch – this beautiful historic property is famous for hosting important people from honeymooners John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Ronald Reagan and celebrities.  Some our very best friends (who are actually our business partners!) were staying here for the weekend and we met them at one night for dinner. More details on that below.

Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito – We went to dinner her one night.  It’s a beautiful property.  Friends have stayed here and enjoyed it.

Ritz Carlton Bacara

Where to Eat

Reservations recomended at all the restaurants below:

Belmond El Encanto – I definitely recommend El Encanto for breakfast, lunch, cocktails or dinner!  The food is wonderful, cocktails delicious and view amazing!  They have live music certain nights during happy hour and I hear that is fun as well.

Caruso’s at Rosewood Miramar Beach – This elegant, fine dining restaurant is right on the water and offers al fresco dining.  A one star and Green Star Michelin restaurant, the food was amazing and service is truly unmatched!  Highly recommend Caruso’s for a very special experience.

Stone House San Ysidro Ranch – We joined our best friends and business partners at Stone House for dinner.  It is very charming.  The food was very good as was the service.  Request to sit “outside” with a view.  There are also tables inside but I wouldn’t really want to sit there.  If you can’t get seated on the logia then I might opt for the restaurant downstairs, Plow and Hearth.

Plow and Angel at San Ysidro Ranch – Ask to be seated under twinkling lights of beautiful trees outdoors.  Our friends had eaten here the night before and loved it also.Be sure to walk the property at San Ysidro Ranch either way!

Loquita – Farm-fresh Spanish Tapas and craft cocktails located in the Funk Zone.  Ask to be seated on the patio.

Los Arroyos – Good quick Mexican food.  We met friends here when driving through years ago.

Other restaurants recommended by friends:


Lucky Penny Pizza

Jeanie’s – good for brunch

Te Lune


Shoreline on the beach

Honor Bar – yes, like in Dallas!

What to Do

Relax! – One of my favorite things we did was simply to relax at the L Encanto. Their beautiful pool and green lawn with fire pits have amazing views of Santa Barbara and the coast line. The perfect place for a much needed slow down and respite

Santa Barbara County Wine Tasting

The concierge at El Encanto arranged a wine tour for us with Santa Barbara Coastal Concierge.  Owner Ben Scott took us to three wineries and tasting rooms based on our preferences in wine.  He picked us up at El Encanto and drove us to the Santa Barbara Wine Country about an hour from the hotel.  He was very knowledgeable about wine and the area.  Lunch was included and catered by Coastal Concierge.  I definitely recommend this day trip!

Boat Day

This has become one of our favorite things to do when we visit a coastal town. The concierge arranged a 2 hour sail with Santa Barbara Channel Charters.  The hotel prepared a charcuterie and wine basket for us to take and enjoy on our cruises. Captain Pascal grew up in Santa Barbara, has been sailing here more than 20 years and was a great guide.  One of the highlights was a baby seal that followed us for almost 30 minutes just showing off. You can see this sweet thing on the Instagram Story Highlight I saved of our Santa Barbara trip. It was truly a magical afternoon on the water.

Santa Barbara Courthouse

Santa Barbara Mission and Rose Gardens

Take a walk on Butterfly Beach or any of the other beautiful beaches.


We are not big shoppers on vacation as our goals are typically two explore the city/area and relaxing. These are shopping places that have been recommended to me.

Montecito Village

Santa Barbara State Street

Tuesday Farmer’s Market

I hope this helps you to plan a wonderful stay in Santa Barbara.  We can’t wait to go back to this slice of heaven on earth!





Alicia Wood

MEET ALICIA is a lifestyle destination for everyday living written by Alicia Wood. Alicia’s goal is create a timeless, fresh way to approach fashion, entertaining, beauty, design and travel.

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Alicia Wood

Meet Alicia is a lifestyle destination for everyday living written by Alicia Wood. Alicia's goal is create a timeless, fresh way to approach fashion, entertaining, beauty, design and travel.

Read More


Alicia Wood

Meet Alicia is a lifestyle destination for everyday living written by Alicia Wood. Alicia's goal is create a timeless, fresh way to approach fashion, entertaining, beauty, design and travel.

Read More