The good-bad thing about...
The good-bad thing about Southern California is that you must smoke outdoors or have smoking lodging, not that I like smoking, just a rights struggle between the business owners and some patrons and patrons excess health advocates, lawyers, and employee unions. So it is a good idea because now if the law were changed back still many spots would stay non-smoking (but that will never happen because they say people die even if they are not smokers after working for 30 years in a very deep fog of cigarette smoke (no mater how many fans, blowers, and air exchanges per hour an owner may have designed and runs his ventalations systems). I think you can also smoke in public garages where cars park, but probably only in your car with your windows up. Okay you can see this kind of distrubs me, but shouldn't an owner be able to set up a room with an updraft so at eye level standing up 2 feet from a smoker there is 1000 times less smoke than one cigarette in a non vented 50 ft. by 50 ft. room for an hour - equivalant?
DONE - won't say any more, except one more paragraph below and thank goodness New York, Florida, or European People are not so psyched. (In Calfornia you can have personal freedom as long as it does not hurt others nor take dollars from the local goverment in chasing away tourists (!!!)!
Smoking - But since most of the year it is dry and warm this is not a problem. Half the nightspots have a table or two where you can smoke next to the sidewalk but be on the property having a drink.
If you are 21 to 40 or so the downtown near 500 blocks is the place to be. Disco and some music and happy hours.. Check it out on Thursday or Wed. and then if you must go to one spot make sure you get there before most of the locals get there around 9:30 (8:30 on 'US holidays/festival days') or you many both pay a cover charge and have from 30 minutes to 2 hours to wait or more.
Warning Fake ID's get you a big fine and possibly more and don't drink and drive (they set up and will catch you with frequent check points)
For the 30+ types, Joe's, El Paseo, Left at Alberqure, Blue Agava, and a Place next to the Montecito Inn (?) are most of the spots, usually easy to start up a conversation cept maybe Paseo. I guess some like to go to Blue Shark Bistro, Roys, and Jimmy's Oriental Garden. Bikers go to the Creekside and sometimes to a place along the main parallel street to the highway in Carpenteria.
All kinds of people and half the places have 'backyard' patios open to the air (hint- I was not going to mention it again). Leather is always good, otherwise anything goes, good looking club wear! (ask/see a college student). Some places require no jeans nor t-shirts nor 'gang wear-bandanas'. All of these are out of style anyway, in case you did not know. You can probably buy something at Macys or the other stores which should do you well.