As fabulous as Los Angeles is, sometimes you and your girlfriends feel the unshakable urge to pack a bag, hit the road, and travel outside the city limits for a Saturday day trip. The next time the highway calls your name, round up your friends and point your car north toward Santa Barbara.
When you take your first steps in this vibrant city, you soon realize why it is known as “The Riviera of the West.” With its stunning seafront, Mediterranean climate, and perpetual sunshine, you feel as if you are on more of a luxurious vacation than a day trip.
Before Santa Barbara gained its reputation as a playground for California’s rich and famous, it was a center for Christianization in the early days of Spanish colonialism in the Americas. So, it’s only appropriate for the city’s eponymous mission to be your first stop of the day. Snap some memory-making photos of its colonial architecture before getting a brief history lesson on the mission’s storied past. The building has seen its fair share of damage from an earthquake, but it doesn’t lessen its impact.
From there, drive along Santa Barbara’s iconic downtown on the trendy State Street, where small boutique shops and cafes practically pull your car over for you with their magnetic charm. As the morning sun rises further into the sky, make your way from the city center and past the shore-hugging palm trees toward Sterns Wharf, a picturesque promenade built in 1872. Enjoy a delectable seafood lunch at Longboard’s Grill before hopping over to Moby Dick Restaurant for tropical cocktails. Even the juiciest of gossip can’t tempt you away from staring at the beautiful view of waves lapping gently against the shore.
Work on your tan and enjoy a natural, sandy pedicure as you stroll along the iconic Leadbetter Beach. Take a minute or two to kick back in the sand and watch daring surfers test their skills in the tumbling waves. The chatter from your friends dies down as you close your eyes and wonder how life can get any better than this. When you’ve had your fill of sun and sand — if that’s even possible — head back to the wharf and sip on a glass of wine as you watch the glowing sun set into the Pacific.
Photo by torbakhopper