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I have lived in California for about 14 years now, yet had never set foot in Santa Barbara. Sometimes when you live somewhere for long all you want to do is escape it.

This has been the main reason why I never made the 3 hour trek from home to explore this area. Now that I am back in California I have been doing little trips in-state. This weekend was full of day trips and I was deeply inspired by Santa Barbara’s beauty. The town is gorgeous and has a Spanish feel. It’s because of this that I loved it so much. I’ve been planning a trip to Spain and being in here made me all the more excited to pack and go! Check out the my photo diary and recommendations below!

Karen in Santa Barbara

Where To Stay

The Goodland Hotel – This hotel is located about 15 minutes away from Santa Barbara in the town of Goleta. It is a cool place with a hipster vibe perfect for younger travelers looking to have a good time. It is a more laid-back party vibe over the many resort choices in the area. The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the awesome airstream and vintage car located at the main entrance. Once you enter the hotel you’re greeted with more cool decor as well as a Vinyl shop for the music lovers. I personally loved the decor aspect of The Goodland and will say it is its main attraction.

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Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore – Out of all the luxury hotel and resort chains, my absolute favorite is always Four Seasons. The attention to detail with everything, from decor to service, just can’t be beat! This particular location is just as stunning as the rest, but I especially loved the Spanish theme. It blends in perfectly with Santa Barbara’s Spanish vibes. This resort is perfect if you’re looking for a luxury experience and want to be catered on hand and foot. You will never be disappointed at The Four Seasons!

Read about my experience at Four Seasons Lisbon here!

Where To Play

Below are the best Santa Barbara activities that you should definitely do!

The Santa Barbara County Court House – Yup, don’t be fooled by the name, Santa Barbara’s Court House is probably the most beautiful place in Santa Barbara. Its Spanish architecture is truly stunning – inside and out. The photo possibilities here are endless and it even has a viewpoint from the clock tower where you can see Santa Barbara from above!

Hot Springs Canyon – Or Gould Park if you can’t find it on Instagram. This is a hike just off Santa Barbara’s downtown that will reward you with a hot spring (!!!). The Santa Barbara area is, surprisingly, known for its hot springs. There are several hiking places to see them, but the closest to town is Hot Springs Canyon. The hot spring here is very small, almost like a puddle, so you can only dunk your feet in. Still, it was my first time seeing a hot spring in person so I was just happy to know it’s actually hot and bright blue!

Downtown Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara’s downtown is worth a stroll, in my opinion, for its beautiful architecture. There are plenty of shops and restaurants here as well, but what I like best is just walking aimlessly appreciating the beautiful Spanish-style buildings.

Stearns Warf – If you keep walking towards the ocean from downtown you will eventually land on Stearns Wharf. This is the area by the beach and pier and a great place to watch the sunset! This was probably the most beautiful sunset I had ever witnessed in California. It actually reminded me a little of Santorini! You can’t miss this.

Where To Eat

Mesa Verde – My favorite vegan restaurant in Santa Barbara, and probably all of California. This place does vegan food right! Their dishes are all very creative, and seem to be Spanish/Latin inspired. You can find things like vegan street tacos, empanadas, and polenta fries here – all amazing choices, btw! Definitely try this place out for lunch if you want good vegan food!

Bella Vista Restaurant – This is the Four Season’s beautiful restaurant. It is aptly named by its gorgeous ocean view. Opt to eat Al Fresco here and sit on their terrace to get a full view and the full Bella Vista experience. The food here is amazing and perfect for anyone looking for non-vegan food. If you are going with someone who eats vegan, don’t fret, there are some choices that fit the bill. I got their asparagus gazpacho and a salad for lunch. I did add salmon to it because I’m actually trying to incorporate it back into my diet (it’s good for the skin). You can read more about my rosacea vegan lifestyle.

Well guys, there you have it! These are all of my favorite places in Santa Barbara. If you get the chance, definitely visit the area. It will surprise you that it is in California!

Be sure to save this post for your next trip to Santa Barbara! You won’t regret exploring this area 🙂

xx, Karen

All photos taken with my Olympus Pen E-PL8.

About the Author

Karen Delgado

Karen was born in Lima, Peru, but grew up in Palm Springs, California. She started her travel journey in 2016 with an around-the-world trip that took her through Europe, SE Asia, and Australia. Since then she has created a lifestyle of travel, and splits her time between NYC (her current home base), LA, Barcelona, and Lima. She loves all things wellness, travel, and entrepreneurial, and is always working on new projects while exploring the world.

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