Solvang is cutesy-touristy
I think of a tourist trap as a place that's a rip-off and not worth visiting. Solvang does not fit that definition. If your definition of tourist trap is looser, you may consider Solvang to be one. Solvang is a great day trip if you're visiting Santa Barbara, and want to grab lunch and walk around. Most of the shops seem to be of the souvenir type, and the ones that aren't felt overpriced.
Unique Suggestions: The standout here is Olsen's Danish Village Bakery & Coffee Shop. I ordered an apple boat and an almond horn. Both were great. The server was so adamant that the almond horn was much better at room temperature (ours was slightly chilled), that she put two extra in a bag for us to take for later (no extra charge).
Fun Alternatives: There's a lot to do in Santa Barbara proper, and Los Olivos and San Luis Obispo are not much further than Solvang.
- Food and Dining
Santa Barbara hotels - not worth the money!
Santa Barbara is not known as a destination for the rich and famous for nothing, with locals like Oprah and the late Michael Jackson, it's no wonder this beachside town is PRICEY! My suggestion is to save on your hotel and not fall for the super expensive, overrated hotels like The Canary Hotel. Try some cheaper options, like the hostel, the Ala Mar motel (http://www.alamarmotel.com/), or The Sandman Inn (www.thesandmaninn.com). All of these are great options for the fraction of a price of the $300+ a night hotels many tourists fall into booking at. My personal favorite is the Sandman because it offers two pools and has extremely clean rooms with great furnishings.
Stearns Warf Ice Cream Shop: Not so Creamy
On a hot summery day, walking along the warf, many would want to have a cool drink or nice ice cream. The Stearns Warf Ice Cream shop has coffee, cold drinks and ice cream, but please be warned, the ice cream is not only expensive, it is not good at all. The ice creams look like they have been ladened with loads of food coloring and taste very artificial. Probably not the best choice of ice creams considering there are so many places now that sell ice cream that is made of all natural ingredients.
- Family Travel
It might be a tourist trap!
While we were waiting to go on our Whale Watching excursion, I saw this boat go by. I had to think to myself, what would I see had I been on this boat? The boat didn't appear to be something so seaworthy of going out too far. Anyway, the best way to see Santa Barbara is to walk around town!
Unique Suggestions: Don't pay a whole lot!
- Sailing and Boating
Whenever we go to Santa Barbara visit Stearns Wharf and enjoy the view of the ocean and coastline. We also visit the souvenir shops and sometimes dine at one of it's restaurants. If I am not eating at one of the restaurants I usually buy a post card or small souvenir to get my parking ticket validated. This is a total touristy thing to do but I can't imagine a trip to Santa Barbara without a walk on the wharf.
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Keep away from the hostel in Santa Barbara!!!
The worst experience I had in a hostel, was in Santa Barbara. The hostel next to the railway station doesn't look bad, but everybody who stayd there (those who succeeded to stay there) had horrible experiences with cockroaches, unfriendly staff and dirty rooms. In our case, the receptionist refused to check us in, because we didn't fill in the form completely (we couldn't fill in a plate nr. because we had no car....). Anyway, it was my worst hostel experience and I suggest everybody to keep away of this hostel even if it looks good from the outside!
Calling home from the US.....
Calling home from the US.. There are a few ways to call from the US to your friend and family at home..You can put money in pay-phones, call from your hotel, use your mobile or use a calling card..
Unique Suggestions: You can buy prepaid calling cards at shops, gas stations and newsstands these have usually a better fee but beware of hidden start up fees !
Fun Alternatives: We use a calling (credit) card it can be used from payphones, private phones and hotel phones (most hotels charge you for using their phone even when it's a free number). With this card you call a free number and then your card number after this you can call home at a much nicer rate you would get elsewhere. Just visit http://www.telegroup.com to see the costs, do compare these to other cards you know to see if they are cheaper (if you know one please let us know).
The card itself is free, no annual fees you'll only pay when you use it
- Budget Travel
Pretty much State St. is the...
Pretty much State St. is the main boulevard. It runs from the Pacific ocean all the way to Goleta(Don't Ask). Most places here are expensive but no body said paradise was cheap..:) Just use your best judgment and all is good.
I grew up in SB, so I can tell...
I grew up in SB, so I can tell you objectively what are tourist traps...the Mission, trust me, it's not that exciting. The Harbor is nice, yet I recommend just hanging out Downtown. It really is the essence of Santa Barbara, with its cafes where you can sip lattes and watch the people go by and point out which are the tourists. (It's kinda cruel, but we all do it.)
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