Santa Barbara is the beach town that all other beach towns should be. In just a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles, you're in the "American Riviera".
Whether you're new to Santa Barbara or returning for the 100th time, you realize it just has all the traits to admire about ideal California living: mountains, beaches, vineyards, a cultured urban center, and wonderful weather.
For a great time out, one place you'll not want to miss is the Funk Zone.
It's over adjacent to the Amtrak Station between the Ocean and the 101 Freeway. The Funk Zone has become a solid favorite in recent years. Converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces set the tone for this hopping section of Santa Barbara. If you're a beer lover (and/or in my case want to start your weekend vacation with beer because you'll know you'll be wine tasting the next day), head on over to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company's Taproom with indoor and outdoor seating, and catch one of their live bands performing.
Start at Sunstone Winery , perhaps the most beautiful vineyard and winery tasting room on California’s Central Coast
Kalyra Winery where Jack meets Stephanie in the classic academy award winning movie "Sideways" is a great choice for your second winery, brought to you by Australian born winemaker Mike Brown.
Ready for some lunch, and maybe a couple more wine tastings?
Head over to the charming, quaint and ramble friendly 5-block town of Los Olivos. Over 50 wine-tasting rooms have set-up here along with art galleries and restaurants, and some in historic buildings that are 100 years old. Some of the wine tasting rooms have yards with live bands playing, and games to keep you and your friends entertained and active for hours. (This was one of my favorite stops and could even deserve an entire day.)
Most travelers wouldn't think of visiting a courthouse for sightseeing, but the Santa Barbara County Courthouse epitomizes the Spanish-Moorish architecture that is found across the city.
Completed in 1929, the complex impresses visitors with its intricate tile mosaics, colorful gardens and a sweet view of the city and ocean below.
Make sure to get lunch at La Super Rica Taqueria, made world-famous by chef, author and TV personality Julia Childs. Yes, there is always a line for these legendary tacos, but it's worth the wait!
Oh Santa Barbara - you're a place that always feels like the first time.