Visiting Santa Barbara: A Weekend Guide


Our first visit to Santa Barbara was in 2018 for our 1 Year wedding anniversary.  We had such a nice time that we decided to go back 5 years later for our 6 Year wedding anniversary!  Both visits fell on Memorial Day Weekend, and late May is a beautiful time to visit this coastal city.  (Yes, holiday weekends do get more crowded than other times of year, so this is definitely something to keep in mind!)

Our first visit was nothing but bright blue skies and hot sun, and the second time around it was quite overcast and cool. To be honest, I was actually happy about our cloudy days this year…It kept us from overheating during hikes and walks around the city!

If you only have a couple of days in town, check out our favorite stops below to build your list of activities as well as find the tastiest food!


Downtown Santa Barbara & State Street

A walk down State Street provides endless restaurant options, unique stores to explore, and the perfect opportunity to sightsee in downtown Santa Barbara!  There’s beautiful detail everywhere you look.

Reaching the end of this stretch of road will bring you straight out to the wharf, giving you a great view of the coast and the ocean!

Inspiration Point & The Santa Ynez Mountains

The hikes in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara are truly gorgeous!  To reach Inspiration Point, cars can park along Tunnel Road, and entry to the trails can be found at the Tunnel Road gate.  The trail to Inspiration Point is easy enough for beginners, only taking about 1 – 1.5 hours from the gate, but can be made into a much longer excursion by exploring offshoots of other nearby trails.

On a clear day, there are beautiful views of the Santa Barbara coast.  We happened to go on an overcast day, but the misty cool weather was actually my preference!  We didn’t get too hot and felt like we were up in the clouds.

The only trail offshoot we had difficulty finding was Seven Falls.  It was unclear at the time we were there if the trail was temporarily closed.  Be sure to look at a map ahead of time!

Santa Barbara Zoo

We spent several hours at the zoo as it was our first time there!  The Santa Barbara Zoo is an incredible small zoo and nonprofit that provides great education.  It’s a fantastic stop for kids and adults alike!  (You’ll need to reserve a time slot to visit through their website. This kept it from getting overly crowded!)

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

In Mission Canyon you’ll find the lovely Botanic Garden!  78 acres and over 1,000 species of plants – This place is beautiful!


Hook & Press

The Boston Cream Pie Donut and the Coffee Donut Holes!

If you’re a donut lover, Hook & Press is truly a must!  Their rotating flavors are seriously decadent and one-of-a-kind, with everything made from scratch using high quality ingredients.  The Boston Cream Pie Donut was everything it ought to be, and the Coffee Donut Holes were the perfect latte companion.

They also had vegan options and delicious drink choices!

The Andersen’s

Whether you’re in need of breakfast or craving dessert, Andersen’s Danish Bakery has it all!  I wish we could have tried every single incredible pastry in the place.  Our breakfast Croissants and afternoon Earl Grey Lavender Cookies were perfect.

Scarlett Begonia

We first had breakfast at Scarlett Begonia on our 2018 visit, and it was so good that we had to come back!  The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are the best part if you ask me!


If you love sushi, try Arigato.  Everything was super fresh and flavorful!  (They even had awesome veggie rolls!)


California cuisine influenced from all around the world, Opal is a great dinner option! The Vegetable Napoleon was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten!

Tondi Gelato

Tondi Gelato has got to be some of the best gelato I’ve ever had!  Everything is made on-site from scratch, and while I didn’t manage to get a shot before it was halfway melted, the flavors were all incredible.  I picked Salted Caramel, and my husband got half Hazelnut / half Coconut.

They had both traditional dairy as well as non-dairy/vegan choices!


We came to Convivo for our anniversary dinner!  All of their food is incredibly unique and inventive.  They also kindly gifted us an anniversary dessert (the Chocolate Caramel Bar with Salted Caramel Gelato) and a Polaroid!

We certainly plan to visit Santa Barbara again in the future as it’s only a couple of hours north of Los Angeles.  When we do, I’ll be sure to update this list!

In need of more coastal California guides? Check out A Weekend in Monterey: Food and Destination Guide and Visiting Laguna Beach: A Day Trip Guide!

Visiting Laguna Beach: A Day Trip Guide

Laguna Beach is such a gorgeous day trip destination, and if you have less than 24 hours in the area, picking a few key landmarks to explore is key!  You don’t have to be a surfer to get huge enjoyment from this coastal city, and you don’t even need a perfectly sunny day.  Between the hiking, tide pools, and delicious food, there is something here for everyone.

Whether you’re arriving from somewhere local in Southern California or from far out of town, I would highly recommend the following when time is limited:

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

The trails and views here are lovely!  We went in early April and the hillsides were covered in wildflowers.  There’s an easily accessible parking lot directly off of the main road that costs only $3, as well as a very helpful visitor center.  Inside, we were recommended the trails that would best match the length of time we were interested in hiking as well as the appropriate level of difficulty.

These coastal canyons are a must, and with 40 miles of trails on site there is no shortage of Southern California hilltop vistas!

Address: 18751 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA

Crystal Cove State Park

This stretch of coastline is absolutely stunning for a long walk on the beach!  In between the scenic bluffs you’ll find numerous tide pools that are a blast for exploring.  Whether you’re visiting solo or with a family, you’re in for hours of beach fun here.

Address: 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA

Heisler Park

If you’re in search of a walking tour of the Laguna shoreline, this is the place to go!  This park extends along the best of the Laguna beaches while being home to picnic areas, overlooks, and colorful gardens.  Located on Cliff Drive, the park trail directly connects to the boardwalk, which is a great way to experience the active seaside scene.

Address: 375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA

Las Brisas

When it comes to restaurants, Las Brisas checks all of the boxes: Convenient location, unique meals, delicious drinks, and the perfect scenery.  “California Cuisine Infused with Flavors of Mexico”, this is a festive spot to end the day with a margarita and view of the ocean.  It’s also located on Cliff Drive by the Heisler Park walkway.

My personal dinner recommendation?  The Butternut Squash Tamales!  Unbelievably tasty.

Address: 361 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA

We’ll definitely be back, and in that case, I’ll be sure to add any updated recommendations here!

Exploring more of the California coast?  Check out my Monterey Guide!

A Weekend in Monterey: Food and Destination Guide


If you find yourself within the vicinity of California’s central coast, Monterey is a must see!  My husband and I recently took the 337 mile road trip from Los Angeles, and when you only have a weekend’s worth of time to spend, it can be overwhelming to decide which sites to see!

If you’re planning a weekend visit, I’d like to share everything we enjoyed in this guide to help you narrow down your list!


Whale Watching

This was a first for me!  We used Discovery Whale Watch and saw tons of Humpbacks!  (A word to the wise: If you struggle with seasickness in any way please do yourself a favor and bring a motion sickness medication such as Bonine.  4+ hours on the water can be a struggle if you’re not prepared!)

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Whether you stop by to watch the sea lions engage with the passers by, enjoy some ice cream, or hit a restaurant, it’s a fun hangout at any time of day.


This super charming city is straight out of a storybook.  Walking the streets is enough in and of itself, but it’s also filled to the brim with fun shops, amazing restaurants, and beautiful beach views.

Point Lobos

You’ll want to save a whole day for this incredible park!  It’s a very short drive from Monterey, and entry is free if you park outside the entrance and come in on foot (though the views are well worth the fee if you have to drive in).  Between the incredible coastline, seal sightings, beaches, and tide pools brimming with life, you’ll never want to leave.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must!  Whether you go as a larger family or attend solo, this aquarium has so much to offer from otters to penguins to crazy sea life from the deep.  At the time we visited they also had some impressively informative information regarding plastics and microplastics and the detrimental effects on our oceans.  It definitely inspired us to make more changes where we can!


Crepes of Brittany

Offering both sweet and savory, Crepes of Brittany is located right by Fisherman’s Wharf and offers very authentic French crepes.  Their savory galettes made with buckwheat were delicious and substantial…Mine held me over until dinner!

Lalla Grill Del Monte

This casual dinner spot was a great find.  Lalla Grill Del Monte‘s heated outdoor patio was perfect for the weather and the fish tacos were out of this world!  Their menu is super diverse and they have something for everyone.

Manasiri’s Crepes & Sandwiches

This is a great cafe for breakfast for lunch.  The Greek salad was delicious!


Fandango is a lovely special occasion restaurant. It’s more expensive but if you happen to be celebrating the food is delicious!

Abalonetti Bar and Grill

There’s a reason the calamari from Abalonetti Bar and Grill is famous!  It was truly the best calamari I’ve ever had, and other reviewers all say the same.  This seafood restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants out on Fisherman’s Wharf, and their outdoor patio was fun and super welcoming.  Their Fish & Chips was also one of the best I’ve had.

Old Monterey Cafe

This place has everything on the menu you could think of for breakfast in a fun diner atmosphere.  If you’re looking for pancakes bigger than you are, this is the spot!


If you want to be transported to Italy, Enzo is the place to go.  Located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, this was the perfect place to end our trip and to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of our Italian honeymoon.  The owner and staff were wonderful and the food is an authentic treat!

I wish we could have stayed longer in this beautiful place, and we will definitely be back again!

Want more California guides? Check out Visiting Santa Barbara: A Weekend Guide and Visiting Laguna Beach: A Day Trip Guide!