Updated: Jan 2
In many ways, California has cornered the market when it comes to geographic beauty - the deep blue Pacific Ocean lined by jaw-dropping rocky cliffs, swaths of land covered by vineyards, glamorous cities, majestic national parks, desert oasis...the list goes on and on. I was able to sample a microcosm of California's bounty by spending several days discovering beautiful Santa Barbara.
Located about 2 hours north of Los Angeles and 5 hours south of San Francisco, Santa Barbara is a natural respite from the city for many Californians. But the abundance of activity, shopping, dining and luxury accommodation makes Santa Barbara worthy of a spectacular 4 day weekend get-away or a special stop during a Pacific Coast driving itinerary for those visiting the Golden State. Because of its temperate location, Santa Barbara is an ideal, year-round destination.
Santa Barbara's quaint airport feels local and manageable, but has good airlift from Dallas Ft. Worth airport (DFW) making it surprisingly easy to access from the rest of the US. Upon arrival, I scooped up my belongings and scooted right to the Ritz Carlton Bacara which would be my homebase for my stay.
The Ritz Carlton Bacara is located about 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara proper. The property has direct ocean access from its positioning perched just above the Pacific. The Ritz is a full-service resort with 2 large pools, multiple dining options and a separate spa and pool for adults. While the beach is accessible for walking, the hotel does not provide chairs or beach service. Separate buildings throughout the well-manicured resort house accommodations with classic decor and many with ocean views to enjoy from large balconies and patios.
Book with me for the following Ritz STARS amenities: Complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in/ late check-out based on availability, $100 resort credit and upgrade upon arrival based on availability
I was surprised by the variety of activity available in the Santa Barbara area. Oenophiles will enjoy the wine options in the area as Santa Barbara and the surrounding area have multiple tasting rooms and vineyards to visit. I enjoyed a full day wine tour exploring super small family-owned vineyards to more well-known, larger brands -- all with outdoor seating and gorgeous views to enjoy the California landscape and weather.
I recommend a trip to Santa Barbara town, specifically the Funk Zone, for more local wine tasting rooms, galleries and a phenomenal meal at The Lark. Not to mention, the Hotel Californian located nearby gives an out of this world aesthetic experience with its Moroccan design influence and trendy address. Also make time to stroll through Montecito for charming upscale shops and restaurants, hike and/or bike the multiple paths throughout the area for rewarding vistas and venture out to the Channel Islands for a glimpse of the wildlife that is indigenous to the area.
Book the Hotel Californian with me for the following Virtuoso amenities: Complimentary daily full breakfast for two, early check-in/ late check-out based on availability, $100 resort credit and upgrade upon arrival based on availability
Your hardest decision may be, however, which AMAZING hotel property to choose for your stay! Venturing up into the hills a bit, San Ysidro Ranch is one of the most special properties I've ever visited. Because of its un-assuming location and attention to privacy, San Ysidro is a top choice for many Hollywood A-listers, including the famed honeymoon spot for Jackie & John F. Kennedy. Each accommodation is a separate bungalow with tasteful antiques and Old World charm. A serene pool, an awe-inspiring rose garden, multiple nook and cranny dining options and a world-class wine cellar will make it hard for you to ever leave!
Book with me for the following Virtuoso amenities: Continental daily breakfast for two, early check-in/ late check-out based on availability, $100 food and beverage credit and upgrade upon arrival based on availability
Journeying up the hillside even further with multiple switch-backs throughout, the reward of arriving at Belmond El Encanto I assure you is well worth it! Another small, boutique property, the Belmond's views of the town below and the Pacific coastline are unrivaled. This hotel offers one restaurant and one pool and multiple bungalow-style accommodations. San Ysidro Ranch and Belmond El Encanto are ideal for honeymoons, babymoons or an anniversary or couple's get-away.
Book with me for the following Belmond Bellini amenities: American breakfast for two daily, early check-in/ late check-out based on availability, $100 hotel credit and upgrade upon arrival based on availability
If great access to the ocean and high-glam California living is your speed, then Rosewood Miramar Beach will exceed your every expectation. This Estate style resort is decorated in luxe, Californian, beach-inspired interiors. The property offers separate bungalow style accommodations, traditional Inn located rooms and beachside suites. The Rosewood has two large pools - one adult-only and the other for families - and full beach service along Miramar Beach. Kids will love watching for the nostalgic Pacific Surfliner train that runs through the property (a gracious attendant watches over the tracks and assists with guest crossings AND all windows throughout the property are triple-paned for a quiet indoor environment) and adults will love dining al fresco right at the ocean's edge.
Book with me for the following Rosewood Elite amenities: $30 per person daily breakfast credit for two, complimentary lunch for two once during stay, early check-in/ late check-out based on availability, $100 food and beverage credit and upgrade upon arrival based on availability