Favorite thing: Arriving by train to Santa Barbara starts out by seeing the simplistic beauty in the Spanish-Mediterranean style of architecture in the train station that so typifies the Santa Barbara region. Located at 209 State Street with a parking lot.
Though there were countless restaurants and even a brewpub, we bought food at the grocery store and cooked at home. There was just one problem. There really wasn't anywhere to eat it. Ernst shared the apartment with another bachelor and we surmised they ate their meals in the living room, most likely watching TV.
We normally just go with the flow of a household when staying there but after so many weeks of eating outside in beautiful natural settings, we craved for more. We noticed a great big balcony that seemed worse more for neglect than anything else and suggested eating out there. Ernst was his usual agreeable self but said it hadn't really ever been used. We could see it needed some sprucing up so we went about doing just that. We were an army of two after months of training and it was ready to go in no time after a bit of sweeping and rounding up some chairs and a table.
We sat down to a feast of fresh-baked artisan bread, cheeses, and meats bought from a deli. Of course, we had rallied up a selection of local beers to wash it all down. The afternoon sun hit the big trees surrounding the wood-railed balcony and much talk about the National Parks we three loved ensued. Ernst had been a guide around the parks in his youth but he had embarked on a career in photography which left him little time for travel. He envied our trip and we egged him on to get into the parks more often, to take the photos he dreamed of. He would wind up taking our advice and doing just that the following year, leaving his apartment for a life on the road. But at that moment, we were all quite content to just sit there, enjoying the tastes of California, passionate talk about nature, and a very nice piece of the planet called Santa Barbara, at least the slice Ernst had carved up for us.
Having Ernst show us around was the best part of town. Not only did he show us things we would not have seen otherwise, it was more fun doing it with him. Thanks, Ernst.
Fondest memory: Walking around Santa Barbara with Ernst, it was easy for us to see why he would want to live there. Southern California may take its share of flak for being home to a lot of shallow plastic people but the reality is there are a lot of people here period. They're here for a reason: it's one hell of a beautiful place with just about every terrain you could want and a climate anyone could live with. So, he fell in love with it like many Easterners do when visiting and after going to school right in town, wound up settling here.
He was enjoying showing us his slice of paradise and we could finally let the wind out of our sails a bit. We could really relax. After over two months on the road from our native South Florida, most of it camping through the deserts of the Southwest, being in such a pleasant town and staying at someone's home rather than a tent or motel, we could breathe again like it was everyday life. It felt good just hanging out and not having an agenda. We had no preconceptions and just went where Ernst brought us.
Great chunks of coastal scenery unfolded before us, a precipice of things to come. Spanish colonial architecture caught us perhaps even more off guard. Walking was our mode of travel. Slow, just like the time that was now passing with no particular place to go, to see, to do. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Favorite thing: Overall Beauty. Santa Barbara is so attractive, it's ridiculous. Out of the major southern California big cities, SB is surely the prettiest when judging its main streets, sidewalk areas and beach areas. Just look at these shots I've done!
Favorite thing: Santa Barbara is a pet friendly community. If you don't want to leave your dog at home while on vacation bring it along! Many of the hotels allow dogs but do charge either a deposit or fee. Call the hotel before you book to see what kind of fee they have for dogs. most all beaches also allow dogs, a popular dog beach is Aroyo Burro Beach. Many of the restaurants on State Street have patios you can sit on while you tie up your dog outside of the patio. Here is a great website for more information about dog friendly things to do in Santa Barbara http://www.dogfriendly.com/server/travel/uscities/guides/w/cities/wonlinecityCASanta_Barbara.shtml.
Favorite thing: Take the scenic drive starting at the 101 freeway on Cliff Drive and go west. You will enter the Hope Ranch area. The ocean views are really million dollar views because the homes, estates, mansions in the area are some of the most expensive real estate properties in California, perhaps in the USA, or even the world. The old saying "If you can't afford it, don't ask" applies. What is open to all is the million dollar view, so take the drive and enjoy the view. It's worth every penny.
Favorite thing: The oldest known fig tree in the USA, planted in 1877, has one of the largest branch spread of any species of tree. This tree is a true wow for tourists who enjoy the splendor of nature. Located across the street from the Santa Barbara Train Station.
Favorite thing: I believe one of the coolist things to shoot are palm trees, against the mountains, against the sunrise/sunset, against the blue skies. There are so many opportunities to get many great shots in a variety of framing. Below are a few examples. Remember, the best part, this is free!
This is one of two visitor centers. This one is on the corner of Garden and Cabrillo Blvd. It’s where we got our tickets for the trolley tour. They had lots of brochures and information and were quite busy that day. This building is not very big so you may have to wait your turn to get into when business is booming with tourist.
Oh, be careful crossing the street, it is one of the busiest intersections I saw while there. Make sure you take advantage of when its safe to cross. Too many people were not abiding the signal and almost found themselves under a set of wheels. So be careful!!!!
1 Garden St.
Mon.-Sat:9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun:10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being abroad is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. In America it wasn’t really that hard to find the brand we liked, it was clearly Budweiser, popularly referred to as Bud.
Budweiser is a lager made with a proportion of rice as a substitute adjunct for barley malt. This immedaitely shows the problem for selling it in Europe as traditional brewers serve beer with only the four main ingredients (water, hops, wheat and barley). So Budweiser is not produced accoring to the German "Reinheitsgebot". But we found out that it didn’t taste distinctively different.
The Budweiser bottle is a rather familiar icon to most Americans. The bottle has remained relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1876. We liked it, but the fraze “King of all Beers” is a bid of an overstatement!
Favorite thing: Other points of interests are the Spanish-Moorish County Courthouse (1929), El Presido de Santa Barbara State Historic Park (contains several restored Spanish military buildings) and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. This museum has displayed art made by George Inness, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper.
I love Santa Barbara. I lived here for 3 years and would have stayed forever if I could have afforded it. It's absolutely worth spending some time here.
State street shopping is fine, but the live music, museums, and beaches make it worthwhile.
Fondest memory: Check out the Dog Day Parade, Solstice Parade, and Christmas Parade if you get a chance. But the 4th of July Parade is a bore. My kids wanted to leave halfway through.
Favorite thing: I love the beaches at Santa Barbara, but watch out for oil from natural seeps. The city beashes are pretty clean with less oil, but are very crowded in the summer. Depends on what you are looking for! Further, west the beaches have fewer people. They are closer to the oil seeps and more prone to have oil. This oil sticks to your feet. It will come off easily with mineral spirits or Coleman fuel. The water is warmer than I have ever experienced it this summer. Almost like the Caribbean waters. Makes one think "Global Warming" is real.
Santa Barbara is the perfect place to go down to the beach every evening at sunset and watch for the green flash.
The best bar for watching is the Brown Pelican on Henry's beach
but I like the jog or walk through the Douglas Family Preserve nearby (also know as the Wilcox Estate) to watch from the cliffs overlooking Henry's.
Fondest memory: I have only seen the green flash once, and that was from the cliff overlooking Henry's beach. It was a very clear winter day just after a front had come through and the sun was so bright as it set that it was hard to look at it. Not like those days when the sun sets into a beautiful red soupe. Three of us were looking and the flash was very brief. My brother and I looked at each other as if to say 'did you see that', but the friend standing next to us had blinked at the wrong moment and missed the whole thing!
It also helps to be holding a glass of wine or a beer!!
There are many necessary phone numbers a visitor should have, so here is for your custom travel guide for Santa Barbara:
911 (Even a dead cell phone will dial 911)
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital: 805 967 3411
Yellow Cab: 805 965 5111
Santa Barbara City Cab: 805 968 6868
Greyhound: 805 965 7551
Amtrak Train: 800 872 7245
Local bus service MTD SB: 805 683 3702
Santa Barbara Conference & Visitor Bureau 805 966 9222