Santa Barbara Travel Guide
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You're in California! Get out of your hotel! We yell this doubly loud at anyone staying just off the Pacific Coast Highway and triply so if you're near Santa Barbara, as we recently had a chance to go bike down a mountain in the area and, boy, was it awesome. Over one afternoon with Santa Barbara Adventure Company, we got a suntan, caught the breeze, and glided for nearly 20 miles while hardly breaking a sweat.
The biking itself begins after being driven up (bikes and all) to the the top on one of the higher peaks of the Santa Ynez Mountains. During the drive up the mountain, the guides point out scenic spots as well as evidence from a major fire that devastated the area a few years ago. We noted that many trees were still charred and black, while new plant growth flourished around it. Once we reached the peak, we got our bikes ready and set off down the mountain.
We heard that Santa Barbara Airport was getting a makeover, and after a couple years of cranes and constructions helmets the new place is finally opened to the public. The space looks awesome—and not just by airport standards—with its nod to Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. We just hope that the new place was able to hold its own with the influx of Kardashian well wishers and wedding attendees over the weekend.
The new airport terminal has just five gates—more than double that of the old building—but everything is streamlined now to better fit the needs of modern air travel. In total the place is around ten times bigger than what it replaced, and thankfully restaurants, restrooms, and other spots to waste some money are now available following security. Baggage claim has even moved inside, so you’re no longer forced to collect your Louis Vuitton trunk outside from beneath a tent.
Summer may be out like the New Orleans Saints' Heisman winner Reggie Bush, but in Santa Barbara, the season lasts all year long. That means you still have an excuse to be in the ocean, so pack your swimsuit and head to SB.
Jump in and see our top five picks for Santa Barbara's best water-based activities...
When we recently strolled down the boardwalk in Santa Barbara to Stearns Wharf, we saw a crowd gathered off to a side at one point. Being nosy busybodies, we hurried over to see what all the fuss was over, and down on the sand was a homeless carnival of sorts.
Here's what it is: Three people set up game-like stations along the pier, but the only prize you win is the satisfaction of helping out someone in need. The games are midway-style, where you toss coins into cardboard stands with various plastic cups as targets. They also left signs encouraging people to test their prowess and help a homeless person. Oh, and random signs about how BP sucks.
Chef Cat Cora endorses the barbecue at Cold Spring Tavern.
If you're looking for some restaurant recommendations while in Santa Barbara, get the inside track from locals such as Rob Lowe, former Bachelor manmeat Andrew Firestone and Iron Chef Cat Cora. Find out where Santa Barbara's celebrity residents like to chow down by watching "Sip & Savor," a Web video from the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission.
The stars name-drop their favorite local haunts in the four-minute video so you know where to get some grub and a celeb sighting. They list everything from off-the-beaten-path picks like Plow & Angel to Mexican eateries like La Super Rica Taqueria. Explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary Jacques, names the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on Stearns Wharf as the place to get super-fresh local catch.
With the economy in the toilet, you might not have the funds to head out on once in a lifetime diving trip, and with that Swine Flu constantly lurking around every corner the only safe place is under the sea. That’s why we’ve compiled some strange SCUBA spots right here at home. If you’ve got a better one (or a worse one), please let us know!
Although you may want to wait until the wildfires subside, Santa Barbara offers up some great SCUBA diving opportunities right off the coast of the Channel Islands. The waters here are remarkably clear, and sometimes visibility can even range up to 150-feet. The highlight is swimming through the giant kelp forests. You’ll be able to check out nearly 800 species of marine life while you “walk” through the forest.
After a suspenseful and tragic week in Santa Barbara as wildfires evacuated 30,000 people and destroyed over thirty homes, a Pacific mist is helping to turn the tides, but will the city recover in time for summer tourism?
Californis Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggerwe'll never get used to writing thatdeclared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara on Thursday, sending residents fleeing to the city's hotels, among them the Four Seasons Biltmore (fire rates from $250-ugh) and numerous Motel 6.
Relocation won't save you from the intermittent power outages or terrible air quality, however, and as a result Santa Barbara survived the weekend as a ghost town with the beaches clean of volleyball players and joggers and the streets full of closed shops unsure of their ability to conduct business or attract customers during this time.
If your Labor Day plans usually involve a buffet of beer, burgers and beans, you may not be up for the Pier to Peak Half Marathon which takes place on August 31 and certainly looks like quite a challenge on paper.
Participants will start out on Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf and will make their way up through the city. Try not to stop for photos as you pass by the Santa Barbara Mission--though you might stop in and pray for a little extra energy. The race ends when you reach La Cumbre Peak and start to enjoy views of the city and the Channel Islands while you try to catch your breath.
If this isn't your idea of a relaxing holiday weekend, then take the opportunity to visit over 40 studios during the Santa Barbara Studio Artists annual tour. A $20 ticket will get you into all the studios and a Friday evening reception, with proceeds supporting the town's arts fund. Artists on hand will be more than willing to explain their work and, we're sure, send you home with an expensive souvenir.
[Photo: Matt (mistergoleta)]
Come for the lush landscape or the cadre of bold-faced names--the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has both. Running January 24 to February 3, the festival's program is jam-packed with indie, world, short and local films. We think the real draw for this year's festival-goers, however, might have something to do with the 2008 festival's honorees: Angelina Jolie, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett and Ryan Gosling.
Of course, the adage holds true: Fame comes with a price. To watch the honoring of Angie at the city's Arlington Theater will set you back $75. Even the "cheapest" pass for the festival's movie screenings totals $297. There are two ways to do the SBIFF: Going for all-out extravagance, or sating your pop culture obsession.
Tara Reid stepped out at the Bacara Resort & Spa, a celebrity favorite in Santa Barbara, on Saturday. She hit up one of the resort's three main pools to show off her ever-improving frankentummy, which was until recently seriously scary due to some crap liposuction job.
The resort has extensive spa and fitness facilities, but we know you doubt she used them. Yes, the Bacara also has a restaurant, Miro, with a huge, award-winning wine cellar. Much more Tara's speed, and the opportunity to drink in peace is only 95 miles from L.A.
· Improvement [Dlisted]
Long distance lovebirds Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo took some time off last weekend to get away together. The two shacked up at Santa Barbara's nicest resort: Bacara. They spent the day in one of the 26 private cabanas, occasionally taking a dip in one of the resort's three infinity pools. Not too shabby.
Vanessa was spotted catching some rays while Nick was spotted doing his usual, checkin' out whatever T&A was in sight. We can only wonder what he's thinking about...Jessica? Jessica who?
[Image via PopSugar]
· Nick Gets Caught [PopSugar]
How many lame jokes can we make about tennis matches or game, set, love in telling you about Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick's lovers' getaway? The king and queen of tennis took a break at the Bacara Resort outside of Santa Barbara, a beachfront property than earns highly varied reviews. The concept is fantastic, but some visitors believe the service doesn't equal the rather high price tag.
Still, it's a popular resort of celebrities and other A-listers who want to spend all weekend in a caban or on a massage table (the spa is a centerpiece). It's also a place for L.A. parents to send their kids, accompanied by nannies, of course. We know of at least one industry dad who sent his two daughters there every weekend with their nanny, with wads of cash and instructions to give the little ladies whatever they desired. The staff is made up primarily of UCSB students, and no Gaucho was shocked to hear that David Hasselfhoff "cut himself" "shaving" in a hotel recently. The man has been tearing up Bacara suites for years, ravaging furniture and savaging the minibar.