Santa Barbara is my happy place. Whenever I am feeling creatively stifled, or any of my senses are hungry, I plan a trip up the coast to this beautiful town. And it never disappoints. I’ve put together a few of my favorite places here so that you, dear reader, have a veritable roadmap to getting your creative juices flowing. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather comprises my absolute must do’s during any stay in SB.
The Blue Door
I could spend hours treasure hunting in The Blue Door, a vintage and modern collection of furniture, artwork, home goods, clothing and accessories, located in the Funk Zone area of Santa Barbara. Everything about this place appeals to me: the branding/logo design; the clean aesthetic they maintain while incorporating so many eclectic offerings from a variety of eras; the friendly staff. Most of all, though, the Blue Door does an amazing job of curating the vintage and modern collections (as well as the fine art) they display. Nothing in this store feels like the standard antique store faire – all of it feels special. Its as though someone with an eye for design went all over the state/country/world hand selecting the most beautiful pieces available and planted them in one 3 story building for you to browse. I could (and often do) spend hours wandering the floors. It is my favorite place to find items to furnish my home because each piece is special, unique and, I sense, has a story.
Pizza. But not just any pizza, artisan wood-fired pizza. Boasting a great stand alone location in the heart of the Funk Zone, Lucky Penny is a great place to hang out on the patio, eat delicious food, appreciate unique decor and fantasize about which wall in your home to adorn with coppery pennies (side-note: I’m currently thinking my laundry room door on my patio is my best candidate). In addition to the treats on their menu, Lucky Penny also features local artisans’ goods inside where you place your order. When we visited most recently, they had the softest leather tassel keychains and most beautiful mason jar coffee coozies from a local company called Oxley Goods.
I’m certainly not the first to give The Lark rave reviews, but I nevertheless feel the need to give my two cents. As a newish mom, I was very anxious about taking my 8 month old to a nice restaurant to savor a delicious meal among adults and celebrities. Our server immediately put me at ease. While she was immensely knowledgeable about the menu and passionate about the food and drink, what stood out to me as much as the insanely good food was her desire to make us feel welcome. I’ve only ever experienced this kind of genuine hospitality in Charleston, South Carolina and it will make me a loyal patron for years to come. The food and drink are simple but exquisite and the pride taken in each and every element of this restaurant and the customer’s experience are evident.
While there are many great wineries in the Santa Barbara area, Pali Wines is my favorite I’ve discovered within the city limits. It is a very relaxed and casual atmosphere in the tasting room and boasts a number of delicious Pinot Noirs at excellent price points.
My husband and I discovered Jane by accident and have been coming on purpose each trip since. We noticed it’s balcony tables while walking down State Street, were tempted by its menu and felt at ease in its ambiance. We’ve celebrated many milestones in our family and friemily here and a memorable meal and wine were always a component of each of those memories. Tip: don’t be intimidated being seated at the communal table – its always a good time!
Santa Barbara Bowl
My husband and I have a tradition of going to see Jack Johnson, one of my favorite singers, each time he tours at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Not only are the acoustics amazing, but the views can’t be beat. The materials they used to build the venue fit in perfectly with the natural landscape. While the Bowl can accommodate a large audience, concerts or comedy shows here always feel intimate.
The French Press
Last but certainly not least, the French Press is always a “must visit” when we trek to Santa Barbara. The owners of the French Press also own and run Castle Coffee Roasters, which is brewed and sold in the cafe. They also own Bakeshop, where all of the pastries are made in house from scratch using seasonally appropriate ingredients. So beautiful, so delicious, and all of their employees are passionate about their craft. Also, how can you not love a business who touts their commitment to optimism and community?
If you are in need of a creative refresh, in search of the epitome of California casual, or on a mission to have an adult vacation with your toddler in tow, I highly recommend making a trip to Santa Barbara and I hope you love these sites and inspired venues as much as I do!