The San Ysidro Ranch is one of my favorite hotels ever (I got married here!). A private and romantic hideaway in Montecito, with 41 cozily and individually decorated guest cottages, it’s perfect for a honeymoon or a special wine tour weekend away. Among many other things, the ranch is famous for its $130 "Montecito Margarita" made with Don Julio Real Añejo Tequila and Grand Marnier 150th Anniversary.
Made up of cabins and tents (for those who are looking to "glamp" in large decked out tents with a double bed and electric lighting), El Capitan offers a rustic but luxurious way to experience the El Capitan Canyon and beach near Santa Barbara. Perfect for a family trip with kids, choose between doing your own cooking (each cabin has it's own "outdoor kitchen" with a grill/fire pit) and opting for super healthy meals at the Canyon Market and Deli.
My dad brought me to this Italian trattoria for a special dinner when he came up to visit when I was at UCSB. It still serves all the delicious and seasonal Italian dishes you’d expect in a warm, welcoming setting. Choose between the cozy interior or the vine covered outdoor patio for lunch or dinner.
One of the best, freshest, most authentic Mexican spots ever. I have been coming here for 20+ years and it is insanely good. The tacos, tostadas, salsas, and specialties are pretty much unmatched. Casual to the max, line up for delicious tacos served on plastic plates.
A truly unique botanical garden founded by singer turned botanical gardener Ganna Walska.
She bought the property in 1941 and over the years transformed it with the help of several world-renowned landscape designers.
Today, the garden continues her work by preserving her singular designs and continually expanding the stunning collections of exotic plants from all over the world. As it’s located in a private residential neighborhood, book in advance and reserve to join a docent-led tour.
Rose Carrarini of Rose Bakery fame has a new cookbook, "How to Boil an Egg", featuring, rather than photographs, Fiona Strickland's hyper-realistic botanical drawings of the recipes.
The Santa Barbara area is fast becoming a wine destination with the Santa Maria, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez Valleys, and Santa Rita Hills all offering different microclimates that all produce distinctive grape varietals. It's definitely a region to go exploring for great new wines to try. Here are a few standouts in the area:
A small operation run by husband and wife team Matthias Pippig and Jamie Kinser along with assistant winemaker, Jessica Gasca, this winery located in downtown Santa Barbara creates wines from a mix of the area’s best locations for growing grapes. Visits are by appointment at their tasting room, where you get to try and learn about a variety of their wines in a sleek and modern setting.