A Locals Guide to Santa Barbara
I recently moved back to Santa Barbara after being away for four years and it feels like I am seeing the town in a whole new light. When asked where I was from, the most common response I received when I spoke of my hometown was “Why did you leave?” To tell the truth, now that I am back, I really don’t know. Santa Barbara has so much to offer whether it is windy and foggy or sunny and hot. As a local re-discovering the places, I thought I could share with you some of my favorite hidden hometown spots. Sort of an insiders guide to Santa Barbara.
- Check out the Funk Zone. It is a Santa Barbara must-see with art galleries, breweries and wineries and a guitar bar to top! When I’m out in the funk, I like to stop by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company for a beer and pretzels. They have this tasty mustard sauce for your pretzels that I cannot get enough of! But Figueroa Brew. can get a little crowded. If you are looking for the local place that even the locals are still finding out about, check out Pure Order Brewery. The guys there are some of my favorites and might I suggest the Hefeweizen. With giant Jenga, picnic benches and a garden in the making, these Santa Barbara locals are keeping it very cool as they build their enterprise.
- Take a cruise through Santa Barbara on the Land Shark. While it might feel a little touristy, but it’s a great way to see a lot of the town from folks that are passionate about it. I even took it once with a friend and we had a blast. Their “conductor” is eager with the jokes and if you’re coming for a family reunion, they will throw you a party on board the boat/bus they drive around town!
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Santa Barbara has the best ocean wildlife. Rent a kayak, stand up paddle board or take a tour of the harbor with Channel Islands Outfitters. It’s top notch service from people who are constantly in the ocean. I like to take out a sweet Hawaiian Pro SUP and check out the waves with the staff because they know all the secret spots.
- Grab a sandwich from South Coast Deli, recently voted Santa Barbara’s best sandwich, and have a picnic at the Rose Garden by Santa Barbara’s mission. South Coast is a local family that makes sure their staff beams the same friendly demeanor they have. I’ve tried a lot of their “sammies” over the years, but the Chicken Cesar Sammie makes my mouth water just at the thought. I might have to get one of those for lunch today…
- Hiking is a big deal with the locals. Take advantage of Santa Barbara’s gorgeous mountain tops and hike up to Seven Falls for some great waterfalls and swimming holes that are a staple for every local’s childhood memories.
- Time and time again, Santa Barbara’s beaches have been a hit. So why not rent a bike and cruise along the waterside? Wheels of Fun has stations all over the beach side for easy access. I’d recommend starting near the pier and heading down the coast towards Montecito, that’s where the celebrities beach it up!
- The Channel Islands National Park was recently featured as one of the U.S. National Parks you didn’t know existed! Be a rebel and explore the some of the longest sea caves in the world!
- A big Santa Barbara trend is juicing. Stop by Juice Ranch and try one of their fresh presses. My favorite? The endless farmer!
- Santa Barbara recently opened The Public Market that is essentially artisan focused food. They advertise it as “Santa Barbara’s best stocked pantry”. Fresh, fresh, fresh is the best way to describe it. They’ve created a modern atmosphere where the friendly faces accompany all kinds of good food ranging from gourmet noodles to ice cream with fresh ingredients you can taste to a strong cup of coffee to fresh caught seafood. Did I mention it’s very fresh?
- The Santa Barbara Channel has one of the largest whale migrations in the world. The Condor Express takes folks into the Channel to chase the sight of these massive animals breaching almost completely out of the water.
But these are just my
top 10 favorites. There’s all kinds of great restaurants to try and unbelievable views from the hikes in the area. The marine life is one of a kind and there’s too many good breweries to list. Santa Barbara has so much to offer, don’t be afraid to just explore. I’m a born and raised “Santa Barbarian” but I’ll be discovering things here until the day I force myself to move out of paradise.