24 hours in Santa Barbara can be a great trip – no need to lament the quickness of your visit. It is a short drive for us…under two hours and therefore easily done. We planned our 24 hours in Santa Barbara at the last minute to celebrate my husband’s birthday and kind of threw things together quickly.
We wanted to stay in Los Olivos or Solvang because we planned to spend most of our time in that area, but it is hard to book a place for just one night. Also, most places were already booked by the time we decided to go anyway, so we settled on Santa Barbara instead…more choices and easier to find a place last minute and for just one night. We stayed at Hotel Indigo. It is very well located, close to the beach, State Street and a lot of fun stuff. It is very comfortable and reminded us a lot of hotels in Europe. The rooms are very small, but cleverly organized, snug and pleasant. We headed out on Saturday morning and went straight to Santa Ynez. It’s about 40 miles NE of Santa Barbara. (If you are not familiar with this area, Los Olivos, Solvang, Santa Ynez…all three are pretty close to Santa Barbara. You can touch all if you are making a quick trip.)
Our first stop was Rancho Sisquoc. This is a beautiful winery that is a bit out of the way, but well worth the drive. In fact, that is why we chose it. Take the long way (the non-highway route) if you like driving, have time and appreciate beautiful scenery. Driving around this area is a real treat, no matter where you’re going.
They are dog friendly here. There are beautiful places to sit outside and enjoy the scenery, smells and sounds, or you can enjoy their delicious wine in the tasting room…which isn’t hard on the eyes, either…
Next, we headed back toward Los Olivos. Los Olivos is the textbook definition of adorable. It is just a few blocks total and current with a very old flair…because it IS old. At least for us…
In the early 1860s, a stagecoach station was established in nearby Ballard (Los Olivos adjacent). In order to accommodate, a hotel, (now know as Mattei’s Tavern), was opened. (It is still there…if you are only visiting for 24 hours, pop in for a look-see. It is very charming.) Soon thereafter, Los Olivos was established. Many original building still stand.
We had lunch at one of our favorite places…Sides Hardware & Shoes. They have a cozy patio out front that Hazel loves. Great service, fantastic food…beautiful setting. Try the calamari, a Bloody Mary, grilled cheese and the Baby Gem Salad. Have you ever heard the saying “Life is in the details?” That is so true…and goes for food, too. A small detail…a simple thing like the salad dressing tells you a lot about a restaurant. The salad dressing at Sides is beyond. You can tell it’s homemade…fresh lemon juice, garlic, great olive oil…and I should find out exactly what else. Delicious.
After lunch, we walked around Los Olivos…headed upstairs to a tiny and very special stationary shop (for which I’m a huge sucker) called Honey Paper. They refer to themselves as a “hidden gem” and that it is.
Next we heard that Figueroa Mountain Brewery was having a “Figtoberfest” and we had to check that out. Also very dog friendly. It was enormously hot that day, so a beer hit the spot.
And then a leisurely walk back to the car…to head on over to Santa Barbara.
About 45 minutes later, we arrived in Santa Barbara and took Hazel for a nice walk along the beach and down the pier. We had dinner reservations at one of our favorite restaurants, Olio Pizzeria. If you can take the heat, sit at the bar in front of the pizza oven. You’ll have an amazing pizza show while you’re eating and probably have an interesting conversation with the pizzaiolo. We love the Umbra pizza with robiola cheese, that we were introduced to at Olio Pizzeria. We ended up having this delicious cheese in Italy on our honeymoon. Fantastic!
The next morning, my husband found a breakfast place within walking distance of our hotel and from my first bite of my insanely delicious breakfast burrito, I already couldn’t wait to go back even though I was already there. I am still thinking about it. Really. That is my idea of a great restaurant…dreaming of going back while I’m currently there.
It is a cute little place with a nice outdoor patio (that is of course dog friendly…) but you might not notice it unless you were looking. This place is THE BOMB. So freakin’ good. They say it best:
Dawn Patrol is a new, local hash house on State Street in Santa Barbara. We feature house-made breads, coffee cake and muffins, an organic juice bar and killer vibes. We work with local farms and purveyors to feature the best possible local ingredients, including free-range eggs and organic coffee.
I had one of the most delicious breakfast burritos ever. And, by the way, that was a very hard decision because you can make your own hash! PS-I do not like regular hash. But they have so much more than that. They had corn, tomatillo salsa, cotija…not just corn beef hash. But I went with the burrito. Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, a soft egg, salsa, avocado, Oaxaca cheese…a party in your whole body with each bite. Fantastic customer service, really good coffee…if you go there, you’ll be so happy that you may want to write me a hand-written thank you note.
And then we were off…but not so fast. We took the scenic route from Santa Barbara…weekend traffic on the 101? Pas moi, mon frère. Montecito, Polo grounds, the Biltmore…that is a much better choice. And all this gorgeous scenery made us so hungry! So we decided to pull off in Ojai and pop in for a little snack+refreshement at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Yes, you are missing out if you’ve not been there. No, you don’t have to be a registered guest to take a walk around their insanely beautiful property or have a drink while you stare off into the oak trees and lavender.
We sat outside, facing this gorgeous old oak on the golf course. On Sundays, at least for a while, they have a bluegrass band playing under this grand tree during brunch. Hazel loved it! Breeze, grass, birds, trees, drinks, Sunday…something like this adds time to your life. After we ate and drank, we took a walk and smelled rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena, sage, eucalyptus…and then made our way back home. It’s always nice to come home.
And this little guy loves it when we come home to him.