Today I’m sharing all about how to plan the perfect weekend getaway in Santa Barbara, California. If you only have 72 hours to see this darling city, here’s how we recommend spending it.
Santa Barbara is a dreamy beach town nestled between the ocean and the mountains. Its a unique view, seeing the palm trees right up against the mountains and we LOVED it.
Ben surprised me with a weekend getaway for our ten year wedding anniversary in August and we’re already planning our return trip.
Here’s how we spent our long(ish) weekend in Santa Barbara and some tips for planning your getaway.
- Drive up from Orange County (3ish hours with some traffic)
- Stop at Renauds for almond croissants and a little lunch
- Check in at Mormonte Hotel (right on the water, a mile and a half walk to downtown)
- Catch up on a few things in the beautiful lobby before we can get into our room
- Relax at the hotel for the afternoon
- Early dinner at Toma
- Stroll through Stearns Wharf (pick up some candy for later)
- Ballroom Dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio
- Quick workout at the hotel
- Parasailing at Stearns Wharf
- Jeannine’s Bakery for brunch/lunch
- Surf Lesson 20 minutes south of Santa Barbara
- Dinner downtown at Goat Tree
- McConnels Ice Cream
- Stroll home along the beach
- Breakfast poolside at the hotel
- Hike at Rattlesnake Canyon
- Drive home
Where we stayed in Santa Barbara:
Ben booked us at the Marmonte hotel and I loved the boutique feeling of the space. The rooms were cute, clean, and on the small side. The bed was very comfortable. The bathroom was filled with beautiful tile (with a shower only). We loved having a pool and hot tub but also being right on the beach. The hotel has beach towels you can use as well as complimentary bikes you can use for up to three hours.
The indoor/outdoor lobby space is great for catching up on work, lounging, or snapping instagram worth pictures.
The location is right on the beach and about a mile and a half stroll to downtown. We drove in one afternoon but most of the time we just kept our car at the hotel and walked everywhere. It manages to feel like a quiet beach getaway while still being walkable to the main attractions.
Where we ate in Santa Barbara:
Toma: The best meal of the weekend was, hands down, the Italian food at Toma. Be sure to make reservations in advance. Everything we had was delicious.
Jeannine’s: This brunch spot was a recommendation from a local after our parasailing excursion and the pastries didn’t disappoint. Worth a stop.
Renaulds: We grabbed brunch here on our way in to Santa Barbara and it was a cute, busy, French bakery. It was good but nothing to write home about. It is located in a cute little shopping center with some darling local boutiques that are fun to explore.
Goat Tree: We didn’t make plans for dinner on Saturday evening and just wandered downtown, looking for a place to stop. We were hoping for something on the lighter side so we’d still have plenty of room for ice cream and Goat Tree didn’t disappoint. I had the Island Faroe Salmon which was delicious.
McConnels Icecream: Another recommendation from locals, we had to try the famed McConnels Ice Cream. It was fantastic. Grab a waffle cone and enjoy strolling downtown or walk the block to the beach. Lines get long in the evening (we waited for 10 minutes or so).
*We also grabbed mexican food after church on Sunday before our hike. It was fine but not our favorite meal of the trip.
What we did in Santa Barbara:
Ben planned this trip so you can bet it revolved around fun, active things.
Parasailing: We booked a parasailing excursion off of Stearns wharf and it was such a fun way to see Santa Barbara from the water and the air. It was less adrenaline inducing than I was expecting and more of a fun, relaxing ride.
Private Surf Lessons: Ben has been surfing here in Orange County a couple times a month but I have only taken the one lesson on a trip to California as a 14 year old. Ben booked a lesson for the two of us twenty minutes south of Santa Barbara and it was a great way to get a taste of surfing. The water was a bit rough (so they tell me) and after about an hour, getting up a few times, and getting trashed by waves a lot of the time, I enjoyed watching Ben get a few pointers and watching the surfers from the sand. The lesson included a bodysuit, a board, and instruction.
Hike Rattlesnake Canyon: We wanted something to do outside on Sunday before we drove back to Orange County and a few people recommended this hike up in the hills above Santa Barbara. It was a different kind of SB experience after spending most of the previous two days right on the beach. There wasn’t one big scenic view at the top and it was HOT hiking up there midday in August but it was great to be outside together.
Ballroom Dance Lessons: I did a lot of ballroom dance in college and Ben always said he’d take a class with me after we got married. Ten years in and he surprised me with a private lesson at a dance studio in Santa Barbara. The instructors were kind and knowledgeable and it was SO FUN being back in a dance studio again. We spent half our time on the quickstep (one of my very favorites) and the rest on cha-cha.
What we’ll do next time:
- Feed giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo (might need to bring the kids along for this one)
- Visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara (museum)
- Eat at La Super Rica Taqueria (Julia Child loved these tacos)
- Eat at Bouchon
- Pastries from Breeoch
- Pizza at Bettina
- Day trip to Solvang
We LOVED Santa Barbara and can’t wait to go back. This might need to be an annual getaway. And we’ll permanently put Ben in charge of planning our couples trips from now on.