Travel Diary: Santa Barbara

November 11, 2019

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Now that it's been almost two months since I went to Santa Barbara it's about time that I document the trip! My mom, sister and I went in September and had a wonderful time. None of us had ever been but it had come up as a possible destination a couple times so I'm happy we were able to make it work. When I was telling people about the trip several commented that it was our annual girls trip and the more I thought about it, it's kind of true. We don't intentionally plan a trip just the three of us every year but that does tend to be our travel pattern! 

The hotel was lovely and our room had a beautiful view of the water from our balcony (seen below). None of the properties in SB are right on the water so this was about as close as you can get. The location was central to most places we went and the pool and restaurants we tried were all good. I'd definitely recommend!
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Day one: Travel day/getting settled. 
We flew into LA early on Thursday and then drove up the coast making a stop to explore a bit in Malibu. We grabbed coffee from Malibu Farm and sat on the pier for a while watching the surfers. None of us had ever been before so it was fun to see such a famous city. I can see why celebs choose to live there!
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Once we made it up to Santa Barbara we were famished so we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and ventured out to Bella Vista at the Four Seasons for lunch. We sat outside with a view of the water while we enjoyed a G&T and the best sweet potato fries I have ever had in my life. Truly the best.santa-barbara-travel-guide
After lunch we went back to the hotel and walked along the beach into downtown SB. It was only about a ten minute walk which was very doable. We explored the Funk Zone a little bit which is basically a cluster of cool restaurants and shops. We grabbed a drink at Test Pilot which was very Instagrammable and yet I didn't get a picture! You'll just have to take my word for it that the drinks were equal parts delicious and pretty. The bar and drinks all had a tropical theme which I loved. Since we had a late lunch we ended up just having some apps back at the hotel after drinks and calling it an early night. 6AM flights will take it out of you!
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Day two: Wine tastings. 
We of course had to have a day of wine tastings! I did some research and came upon the tour company Sustainable Wine Tours which had excellent reviews so we booked a group tour. There were about eight of us total on the tour so not too big. They have a little coach bus that they picked us up in at the hotel and took us to three different wineries/vineyards for tastings. As their name indicates they only work with sustainable vineyards which is obviously pretty cool. All of the places they took us for tastings aren't open to the public which ended up being such a cool experience because you know that not many other people get to tour these locations and we even met with the actual winemakers. We would all definitely recommend Sustainable Wine!
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Our first stop was at McKinney Family Vineyards. The property was beautiful and this was definitely our favorite location of the day. The owner lives on the property and his partner was the one who we did the tour and tasting with. I always love tastings and learning more about wine so this did not disappoint and it was extra cool to hear about it from the guy who literally stomps the grapes himself.
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They had some adorable goats and a few dogs on the property which gave it an extra bit of charm. We were even able to feed the goats grape leaves as a treat. S'cute. We bought a few bottles and signed up for the wine club at McKinney which we plan to enjoy together at Thanksgiving. They only produce a few thousand cases of wine each year so it feels really special to have a few of those bottles for ourselves!
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Our next stop was at Happy Canyon Vineyard. Their property and tasting room (pictured above) were beautiful. We didn't really get a tour of the property and mostly just spent time in this beautiful space tasting some delicious wines. 
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Our third and final stop of the day was at Santa Ynez Valley Wine Club. This place was really unique. They let really small winemakers who can't afford to have their own properties or tasting rooms grow their grapes there and they feature the wines from those small winemakers at their tastings. I'm not sure how many winemakers use their property but we got to try five or six different kinds which was really special. The guy who did our tasting was amazing and super knowledgeable. One of the wines we tried that day was his own which was fun to hear about directly from him. I didn't get any great pictures at this location but they don't have an indoor space, you're just seated in the shade next to a pond and it's just lovely. The above picture was take with some of the vines from this spot as the backdrop. We also signed up for the wine club here so we'll get a few bottles every couple months. Again, these wine makers only make a few hundred cases a year so it feels so special to be a part of that!

My dress is from Everlane and I while I love it I was unpleasantly surprised when I was getting out of the tour van at the first winery and one of the straps snapped. Cue lots of embarrassment at being the center of attention while people tried to think of ways to fix it. I ended up just unbuttoning the other strap and tying it as a halter for the day which worked out but wasn't ideal!
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After we were dropped back off at our hotel we headed to the pier for dinner. It's fun to see the pier but I honestly wouldn't recommend eating there. The restaurant we went to was solidly meh. It was fun to sit outside but the food and atmosphere were just okay. 
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Day three: lounging/sailing.
We wanted to make sure we got in some pool time so we spent the first half of Saturday drinking piña coladas and reading poolside. Is there anything better than eating chicken fingers by the pool with a good book and a fruity drink? Didn't think so. 
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Saturday night was spent at sea. I read about Sunset Kidd tours on Jess's blog and it did not disappoint. We opted for the sunset sail which is a two hour tour at, you guessed it, sunset. It was really nice to have a glass of wine and just enjoy the views.
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After our sailing tour we had a late dinner reservation at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach. We weren't able to be seated outside but it was pretty chilly so we didn't mind our indoor table. Not to mention that it was already dark but I do think it would be fun to eat there outside when it's light out because it's right on the water. Anyway, we all really enjoyed our food that night. I had the best lobster and truffle mac and cheese of my life and paired it with a glass of champagne so I was one happy gal. 
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Day four: travel day.
We didn't have much time before we had to head to the airport so we took some snaps with the Rainbow Gate and then made the drive down south to the airport to head home.

We had such an amazing time but I think I could have done with one more full day! We tried to go to the mission one day but it had already closed and we didn't get much of a chance to walk down State Street and explore. I'll just need to plan a trip back! California is really special to Mark and I, as you'd probably guess since we lived there, and have talked about retiring back there. We've always said Carmel would be a great place to retire but I told him that Santa Barbara is definitely a contender now so I'll need to take him so he can see for himself!

xo Catherine 

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