Santa Barbara was not what I expected at all, in a good way! It is about a 2 hour drive typically depending on traffic from LA, and for that reason I expected the area to be a very busy beach town like Santa Monica/Venice area. It did not feel busy at all! In fact it felt like a southern small town on a beach, with very high class/dressed people. We went during “June Gloom” (which is known as the gloomiest weather), but over half the time it was sunny! I saw a quote the other day that also summed up how I felt about the weather and what you should pack in California: “Welcome to California. Winter starts at 6am. Spring starts at 10am. Summer is at 2pm and Fall is around 4:30ish. Dress accordingly.” Too true! Here is everything you need to know!
Where to stay:
Belmond El Encanto: This 5 Star resort is located just a mile up the hills from downtown Santa Barbara and the beach! This was one of our favorite resorts we have ever stayed with the kids! Make sure to request Bungalow 101, you can see behind the scenes videos of the resort on my Instagram stories here.
What we loved about the hotel:
- Proximity: You could walk out of your bungalow and the pool, spa, fitness center, and restaurant/lobby were all within 5 feet. You never had to walk far and the entire property felt small, not crowded at all!
- Pond area: There is a turtle feeding area that the kids LOVED! The bell men give you turtle food and my kids would spend hours sitting by the pond playing with all the turtles.
- Room: I loved that we felt like we were in a small southern house in the middle of a resort. It was a newly updated villa with one bedroom, a huge bathroom with heated floors, and then a small living area with a pull out couch. They even personalize the pillow cases with your last name initial, what a personal touch!
- Dining: We ate on property almost the entire time because the food was so good! Every morning we had breakfast over looking the fog rolling off the beach view you could see from the cliff. Get the nutella french toast!!
- Activities: From onsite work out classes to electric bike rentals, you won’t get bored at this resort but also feel relaxed at the same time!
What to do:
- Explore downtown Santa Barbara & Beach: We rented a fun 4 person bike from Wheel fun rentals SB, located right in the Funk Zone!
- Visit all the kid Museums/Parks: We had a press pass, but we were only able to hop around to 4 different ones during the week we were in town. I loved the Moxi Museum the best, it is right in the funk zone and has a roof top area for the kids to explore. Make sure to visit Santa Barbara Zoo as well, and reserve a private giraffe feeding, or any type of feeding for that matter! We did the turtles! Other Museums we visited included: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (more educational) & Santa Barbara Museum of Natural Sea Center (you can touch the sharks & various animals)
- Hop around all the wineries: There are some in the Funk Zone you can walk around to, but we opted to do a full day wine tour with Dee Tours one day! Dee can customize the tour for you, or you can plan your own tour and just use Dee Tours for the open air jeep that fits 10 people! The Wineries we ended up doing were: Sunstone Winery, Brave & Maiden Winery, & Lucas & Lewellen.
- If you need a babysitter: Belmond Recommended this company- Mummys Day Off, we used them one night while the kids were sleeping and felt great about the babysitter. She said she worked for the company for 3 years since she was 18.
Where to Eat:
- Breakfast: Acai Bowls: Backyard Bowls, Bree’osh Bakery
- Lunch: Brophy Bros (seafood)
- Dinner: Los Agaves (mexican) , The Lark (american)
- Ice cream: McConnells (funk zone area)