This is the first time I went up the coast to spend my relaxing weekend in Santa Barbara. And even after a few college days visiting my best friend in Isla Vista, I realized I still didn’t have a lot of knowledge of the actual city – the vacation town by the beautiful sea. So to help anyone else figure out how to maximize relaxation in one of the most beautiful cities near the Southern California coast, I have shared my itinerary with you.
2 PM: Check-in
We had reservations with Hilton, and as a Hilton Rewards member we were upgraded to a gorgeous suite with a balcony and plenty of living space. Also, if you are looking to get a new travel card, I highly recommend Hilton – assuming you enjoy Hilton stays.
After settling in, we were a little tired, and somehow restless from sitting in a long car ride, so we took a little nap and took advantage of the incredible room. We also took a small swim break in the heated pool before washing up for dinner. Personally, I love taking advantage of whatever place we stay at since the main purpose of our vacation is to see a new place and RELAX.
5 PM: Dinner at Ca’Dario Cucina Italiana
We were probably in the wrong by ordering only pizza at an authentic Italian restaurant, but that pizza was amazing! We had leftovers for the next day’s lunch and the service was homey. It was also nice to only have to walk across the street from the hotel.
6 PM: Drinks at the Hilton Hotel Rooftop Bar
The Hilton in Santa Barbara/Goleta has a beautiful rooftop bar, and we were going to check it out! Although we were a pebble toss away from party central (Isla Vista), you never would have guessed that party scene was so prominent. The bar was so relaxing and was entertained by a local band.
7 PM: Night Walk at the Stearns Wharf
We wanted to keep the night relaxing and end the night walking along the Santa Barbara pier. We come from LA and are used to the bustling crowds pouring into the pier at all hours of the day. So to find parking within 5 min gave us a good sign that the waterfront in Downtown Santa Barbara was going to be beautiful. Boats being docked as the sun came down and the cobble floors semi-busy with families enjoying their own date nights.
10 AM: Brunch at The Shop Kitchen
This one had been on our list since we planned our trip. The plates were perfect portions and the food lived up to its hype. I almost wanted to go there again. So, if you are ever in the area, check them out!
12 PM: Hike Inspiration Point
My friend is all about the hikes so we looked a few up before driving up. We looked at Gaviota Wind caves and Red Rocks, but Inspiration was only a 20 minute drive, vs the hour, and just as beautiful. (You may also know it as Tunnel Trial.) It was roughly 4 miles round trip, with a trail leading to a view of the luscious greens the area had to offer. We were also lucky enough to come by kids having a lemonade stand at the end of the trail. (Entrepreneurs in the making lol).
3 PM: Leftovers, swimming pool, rest
We were pretty tired from the hike and wanted to take advantage of our room again before venturing off to dinner so we stayed in, swam and munched on those leftover pizzas.
6 PM: Dinner at Carlitos
Another win for food. This Mexican restaurant had a great menu with equal customer service. It sits on State Street and entertains guests with light music while they enjoyed their dinner. We do recommend making reservations as people started filling up the tables fairly quick while we were eating.
Since we were already in the area, we decide to walk around State Street and see all the shops and store fronts. It was perfect with the sunset and oddly warm weather. (If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a cold May so far.)
9 PM: Hotel Fun
We decided to come back and enjoy movie time at the Hotel. Also, you may know this already but never buy wine (or any kind of alcohol for that matter) at a hotel.
9 AM: Check out
As two cautious people, we wanted to be checked out of the room before we went off and did anything else. No worrying about timing and having to rush back to check our stuff out if we decided to run breakfast a little late.
10 AM: Brunch at Cajun Kitchen
Another hidden gem found across the street from the hotel. It was a small place hidden in a shopping center but filled with a waiting list for their Creole/Mexican food. The wait was pretty fast though, so don’t feel discouraged if you see a big crowd outside.
1 PM: Scenic beach route
We didn’t have a lot of other plans listed so we thought we could take the “scenic” route and see the beach as much as we could on our way back home – which is pretty easy to do if you take the PCH back to LA. We were parted with light rain and gloomy skies, but you might have better luck!
3 PM: Cal Lutheran Visit
My friend was gracious enough to make a pit stop at my Alma mater. I got to show him my old stomping grounds, from where I spent my nights studying and where I would workout with my roommates. And if you haven’t checked it out, I obviously recommend this school.