We’ve lived in Phoenix for the last 20 years, and have taken many trips to San Diego over the years. It has always been the place I dream of living someday. Well, with the exception of perhaps Santorini, or a Paris apartment like this with a view of the Eiffel Tower, or Prague, or…
After last weekend, San Diego has moved to No. 2 on my list, and Santa Barbara is at the top! We spent a glorious few days there, and fell in love with the place. There is the ocean which calls to you, the vastly wooded countryside which brings peace, and not as much congestion as you find in more urban areas. It also has a heady scent of flowers everywhere you go.
We came in the long way, from Burbank, so took the scenic route on the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu. The views from the highway are spectacular, until you end up in Oxnard and Ventura, where the highway strays from the ocean. It’s still a drive very much worth taking. It certainly gave me a sense of perspective and how very fortunate I am. There are miles and miles of farms, and migrant workers picking vegetables.
So, on to Santa Barbara. We stayed at a hotel about a few miles from the main hub on State Street. That’s where all the shopping and restaurants are located, as well as the mission and the courthouse. Santa Barbara has its own architectural style, and it is a very beautiful place to take a stroll, do some window shopping and stop for dinner.
From the ocean, looking onto Santa Barbara you see all the homes built into the foothills. We timed it right and were also able to catch a sunset.
We spent a day in Solvang, and what a drive! You head up the hills and pass through forests along windy roads. Solvang is a Danish village, with a lot of restaurants, shopping and more bakeries than I could count! The weather was glorious, and we shopped, ate, had dessert, then ice cream, and then told ourselves it was okay because we were walking it off!
On the way back to the airport, we took the scenic route through Montecito and Summerland. If you’re driving through the area, fine, then stop in Summerland, but be aware that there aren’t nearly as many stores or restaurants there as you might have been led to believe. It’s a beach community on a hill, and it’s cute, but lacks shops and restaurants. The day we were there, the fog was thick and you couldn’t even see the ocean. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, though, stop into The Sacred Space (www.thesacredspace.com). This tiny space meanders way off into the back and has so much beautiful stuff that you don’t know where to look.
In our wanderings, we met the gentleman who made this:
Mermaids are his specialty, and he does one every day. If it’s still standing the next morning, he just touches it up and adds another mermaid. Unfortunately, it had been knocked down that morning, so we were only able to see a single mermaid.
And if you ever find yourself near the Burbank airport, stop in at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe about a mile and a half down the road. We had a scrumptious Cubano sandwich, followed by Cafe Con Leche and mango mousse for dessert. The mousse was light and airy and creamy all at the same time! Much better than airport food!