I always seize the opportunity for a weekend getaway. Being a nurse has both the attributes of being relatively stressful, paired with a 3 day per week schedule. Long weekends are attainable, and getting away is my personal way of staying fresh, focused, and positive.
For my birthday, I landed upon Santa Barbara easily. I was craving both the beach, and warmth; something the SF Bay Area has only in beautifully fleeting moments. Add a spunky downtown scene, a bohemian aesthetic, a thriving wine industry, and delicious restaurants, and you realize that Santa Barbara was made for this sort of ‘birthday-celebration-weekend-rejuvenation’ thing.
We stayed at the Casa Del Mar Inn, a quaint mission-style B&B about a block from the harbor in Santa Barbara. Though our room was a bit cozy, I loved the charm. From unique Spanish tiles, and schoolhouse style windows, to the lovely daily wine & cheese hour, it was a property that definitely did not overlook the little things.
About a half mile from downtown Santa Barbara, we took advantage of walking as a way to explore the city, and to burn off all the delicious food we enjoyed. On our initial exploration that we stumbled across a delicious gastropub, Red’s Bin 211. Initially sitting down just for a drink, we soon found ourselves sampling most of the well curated menu with west coast reggae filling in the background in an airy industrial space that lent itself well to conversation. From goat cheese and sundried tomato mac & cheese, to delicious pork tacos, we definitely ate well.
A lazy Saturday was spent beach-hopping through Santa Barbara and Montecito. Fueled by a hearty acai bowl by Backyard Bowls, finding beachside relaxation was effortless. Butterfly Beach, flanking the front of the elegant Four Seasons Biltmore, was a favorite. Tides were low, and we walked along it for nearly two miles. I loved oogling beautiful mansions and charming beach bungalows alike. While Yelp lead us to a couple of very crowded beaches, simply following Coastal Access signs lead us to a few seemingly undiscovered winners. We lounged through the afternoon on a blissful cloudless day.
Reeking of sunscreen, with sand still sticking to my feet – all evidence of a day well spent – the task of dinner was upon us. Upon the recommendation of a coworker, we made our way to Zaytoon, a Lebanese restaurant in Santa Barbara, to eat on their legendary patio. The patio was a maze of twinkling lights and fountains, with foliage all around. It lead to a leisurely meal of lamb kebabs, shawarma, and baklava, over a Lebanese red wine, watching a seriously talented belly dancer twirling among the tables. Seriously, it was one of the best, if not the best restaurant ambiance I have ever experienced.
Sunday was another day of following the sun, and discovering little gems on the coast. It began with a casual brunch at Sandbar on their cozy patio, once again resplendent in reggae vibes. From there, we ventured further south into Carpenteria, where we stumbled upon Santa Claus Beach. I’m not sure quite where its name originated. A wide beach soft sand, with plenty of space to spread out, this was a perfect morning retreat to read and luxuriate in the calming sounds of the surf.
We headed north up Highway 1, halfway on our way home, in denial that we were leaving. We stopped at countless beaches on our way, languishing in the golden warmth of the afternoon and early evening, all but forgetting that my husband had to work the next day. Santa Barbara, I love your red tile roofs and gem-green mountains; your easy going vibe and your endless California sunshine.