Author Topic: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo  (Read 6654 times)

Catbert

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Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« on: February 23, 2015, 10:36:53 AM »
DH and I are taking a short road trip to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Looking for fun things to do and places to eat in both locations?

We are staying near campus in SLO (Embassy Suites) and at the Montecito Inn near SB.  We're in our 60s so beer pong and student hangouts aren't in the cards.  Walking tours, scenic drives and gardens are more our speed.

Eric

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2015, 11:35:19 AM »
I have not been, but I just learned about Solvang and it looks great.  It has a full on Danish themed downtown area complete with windmills and architecture.  I'm definitely stopping on here next time I'm down there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solvang,_California

Keeping with the Danish theme, in Santa Barbara I really enjoyed our meal at The Andersen's on State Street.  Also, if you enjoy good beer, the Telegraph Brewery has some of the best in the area.

It might be a little out of your way, but I also really enjoyed the downtown of Cambria.  Lots of cute shops, wine tasting, craft cheeses, and an amazing garden store with a whole succulent section that has so many selections that I had never seen before.

DSKla

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2015, 12:21:42 PM »
Perhaps your best option for both would be to park near and walk around the downtown areas. I find that most things in those towns are concentrated into a few small areas. State Street in SB, and also the funk district (artsy area) and the pier. For SLO, most stuff is downtown within walking distance.

One out of the ordinary thing I enjoy in SB is going to Cold Spring Tavern for the tri tip samdwiches they serve on the weekends only. It's a really old tavern that used to serve stagecoaches in the 1800's, and as such is up a gorgeous mountain on the old Stagecoach Road, a short drive outside of SB.

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2015, 12:29:01 PM »
Solvang also has an ostrich farm you can visit and get pretty close to an ostrich. It's sort of like getting close to a velociraptor, I'd imagine.  I second Pea Soup Andersen's also right near Solvang.  Downtown Solvang is fun to explore, all Danish-themed.  Also there is one of thew old Spanish Missions you can explore.

Santa Barbara is great. Park near downtown and walk State Street and window shop and get a bite to eat.  Keep walking down to the pier and hang out there.  There's also a great little zoo there.

43 miles from San Luis Obispo is Hearst Castle, which is interesting to tour, especially for a Mustachian. 

I'll also put a vote in for Cambria, a beautiful villagey little artist town.  Great place to visit.


Mike


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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2015, 01:06:29 PM »
Perhaps your best option for both would be to park near and walk around the downtown areas. I find that most things in those towns are concentrated into a few small areas. State Street in SB, and also the funk district (artsy area) and the pier. For SLO, most stuff is downtown within walking distance.

One out of the ordinary thing I enjoy in SB is going to Cold Spring Tavern for the tri tip samdwiches they serve on the weekends only. It's a really old tavern that used to serve stagecoaches in the 1800's, and as such is up a gorgeous mountain on the old Stagecoach Road, a short drive outside of SB.

I second the Taven.    About half way up 154 you'll see Painted Cave Rd.   Take that to see an ancient Chumash cave of paintings.    One of the pieces depicts a comet hundreds of years ago.   

Solving is ok and is super touristy.   

Hearst Castle is really awesome if you like really bad archecture and a monument to bloated life of excess :)

Tours of Casa de Huerro ( one of the first examples of Calif Mission Style Homes) and the SB Botanic Garden are right up your alley

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_del_Herrero
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 02:31:47 PM by surfhb »

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2015, 02:03:49 PM »
We are staying near campus in SLO (Embassy Suites) and at the Montecito Inn near SB.  We're in our 60s so beer pong and student hangouts aren't in the cards.  Walking tours, scenic drives and gardens are more our speed.

Once my ex and I discovered the central coast, it became our favorite place to go.  I would personally say that I'd choose the central CA coast (defined as Santa Barbara to Monterey) as one of my favorite places in the world, not just America.  Given that the OP already lives in SoCal, I think some of the magic of going to the ocean won't be present, but it's still a nice place.  In terms of cities that are my favorites, I'd say Santa Barbara (although very busy and with a lot of panhandlers), Solvang, Los Olivos (small, but cute for wine tasting and farmers market on the days it's going on), Morro Bay, and my personal favorite, Cayucos.

There's not a lot to Cayucos besides some nice shops and cheap food at the northwest end of the town, but if you like long walks along the beach without being too crowded, it's a great one.  Grab some cookies from the Brown Butter Cookie company, some slices of pizza and "psycho bread" from Ocean Front Pizza, and enjoy the view and cool ocean breezes.  For second favorite, I'd agree with everyone else on Solvang.  That's a real town, and there's a lot more shops and stuff to do there, or at least a lot more places to walk and optionally spend money.  Big park too though, if you want to picnic.

We mainly did beach walks and road cycling so I don't have a lot of hiking tips, although there's a short summit trail by the golf course in Morro Bay.  Other hiking ideas should be easy based on using Google Maps to verify city/state parks and trailheads or poking around on Trip Advisor.  A big part of the fun is just exploring what you find in each city and fine-tuning it to your own preferences and based on what you find when you get there.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 03:11:22 PM by Sid Hoffman »

mm1970

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2015, 02:30:07 PM »
Hi!  I live in Santa Barbara.

The Montecito Inn looks like it's actually in Montecito, not Santa Barbara?  So if you are there, you are right on Coast Village Road, and it's a scenic little place with some nice restaurants.  Depending on what you like, Los Arroyos (Mexican) I like, and Jeannine's Bakery is a great (but busy) breakfast/ brunch place.

As far as scenic drives go - here's what we do when people visit us (or what we did pre-kid):
One day visit: Go to the Courthouse and see the view from the tower.  Go to the Mission and wander the Rose Garden.

Two day visit: Same day day 1, but also go to wine country.  Generally that means driving the 154 up over the mountains.  Sometimes we take a right at Camino Cielo and drive along until we hit the water tower - that gives a nice view of the city.  There's a short hike called Knapp's Castle if you are into hiking (some of our younger friends are).  It's basically the remains of an old mansion, but has great views of the backside.

I will second (or third) the Cold Spring Tavern.

Generally for the two-day visitors, once we get over the 154 (I hope nobody gets carsick?) we go wine tasting at a couple of places and then would have lunch in Solvang.  We are partial to the Red Viking (not fancy food at all, but has a Danish buffet.  My MIL is Danish, so it's a special Danish treat for us.)  There are certainly nicer restaurants in Solvang.  Then we would drive home along the ocean.

As far as walking tours of Santa Barbara go - along the beach is nice, and State Street has shops.  The Funk Zone has wineries for tasting.  There are a lot of panhandlers on State Street these days though. It got so bad a few years ago that I stopped going.  I used to walk to the farmer's market with my kid(s) in the stroller every Saturday.  If you are here on a Saturday, the farmer's market is nice.  I've also heard good things about Santa Barbara Public Market, though I haven't been.  (I have kids, I don't go places much.)

http://sbpublicmarket.com/

For the beach, you can basically walk from Bird Refuge to Shoreline Park and back (it's 8 miles round trip).

Gardens...hm.  I haven't been to Lotusland, and I haven't been to the botanical gardens since the fires several years ago.  From your hotel, you could walk along the beach in Montecito, and there's some pretty foliage and flowers there too along channel drive.


SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2015, 02:31:06 PM »
I live in Santa Barbara, so I have some recommendations for you. Check out the beach at the Bacara resort, which is north of Goleta. It has public access and gorgeous views of the coast, but is very secluded and rarely has more than a few other people there. Great for a sunset walk along the beach or a picnic.

There are very few restaurants that I would recommend on/near State Street. I find most of them overpriced and not particularly good. However, a few standouts include The Blue Owl, which is a little brunch/breakfast spot off state that is excellent with an innovative and well priced menu. Zaytoon is a middle eastern place with a beautiful patio surrounded by lemon trees. They light the in-table fire places at night, and the ambiance is really nice. The vegetarian sampler is tasty and a good value, with lots of variety. And finally, Via Maestro is a hidden gem. It's on upper state, and it's strip mall location is a little uninspiring, but inside it is decorate like a little italian deli/cafe, and the food and desserts are excellent and much cheaper (and better!) than anything you'll find down on lower state. Great for pastas to eat there, or sandwiches to go. Brophy's down on the pier is a popular place for tourists, and it does have incredible views of the the harbor and the city. It's over-priced seafood, but it's worth it to go for a $7 bowl of chowder (which is large and quite tasty) and a beer, especially if you can get there for an early lunch and get a seat on the balcony.

Regarding gardens, if you can make a booking for a tour at Lotusland I absolutely recommend it. It is an exotic plant collection on a private estate in Montecito. Tours are limited and book up, but it is really incredible, so it's worth a shot.

mm1970

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2015, 02:36:36 PM »
I live in Santa Barbara, so I have some recommendations for you. Check out the beach at the Bacara resort, which is north of Goleta. It has public access and gorgeous views of the coast, but is very secluded and rarely has more than a few other people there. Great for a sunset walk along the beach or a picnic.

There are very few restaurants that I would recommend on/near State Street. I find most of them overpriced and not particularly good. However, a few standouts include The Blue Owl, which is a little brunch/breakfast spot off state that is excellent with an innovative and well priced menu. Zaytoon is a middle eastern place with a beautiful patio surrounded by lemon trees. They light the in-table fire places at night, and the ambiance is really nice. The vegetarian sampler is tasty and a good value, with lots of variety. And finally, Via Maestro is a hidden gem. It's on upper state, and it's strip mall location is a little uninspiring, but inside it is decorate like a little italian deli/cafe, and the food and desserts are excellent and much cheaper (and better!) than anything you'll find down on lower state. Great for pastas to eat there, or sandwiches to go. Brophy's down on the pier is a popular place for tourists, and it does have incredible views of the the harbor and the city. It's over-priced seafood, but it's worth it to go for a $7 bowl of chowder (which is large and quite tasty) and a beer, especially if you can get there for an early lunch and get a seat on the balcony.

Regarding gardens, if you can make a booking for a tour at Lotusland I absolutely recommend it. It is an exotic plant collection on a private estate in Montecito. Tours are limited and book up, but it is really incredible, so it's worth a shot.
Hey, I'm not the only Santa Barbarian!

Ditto on Zaytoon.

I'd forgotten about Bacara, and silly me, just went for a walk along the Ellwood bluffs last week on my lunch break with a friend.  I guess I've never gone as far as Bacara (used to live in Ellwood, so tend to take the kids there to run and look for butterflies.)

Catbert

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2015, 03:14:43 PM »
Thanks everybody.  Some great ideas.  That's what I love about this forum.

Yes, the Montecito Inn is in Montecito which I think is about 10 miles south of Santa Barbara.  I happened to see a good deal on Travelzoo.  Maybe Oprah will invite me to lunch.

mm1970

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2015, 05:11:41 PM »
You are actually only a couple of miles from the beach area of SB - not bad! Walking distance even.

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2015, 09:20:24 PM »
For around SLO, nothing beats the Hearst Castle tours.  In Morro Bay there is a wonderful restaurant called the Galley. Pricey, not mustachian, but really good.  Frankie and Lola in Morro Bay is a great place for lunch.

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2015, 04:53:09 AM »
Is San Luis Obispo the place that has the alley where the walls are covered in millions of pieces of gum? Strangely, I'd like to see that!

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2015, 08:31:42 AM »
For Santa Barbara: The restaurant in the Montecito Inn is actually really good. It's a little pricey but then again most of the restaurants in Santa Barbara are. If you like large breakfasts I recommend the Cajun Kitchen. They have two locations downtown. One on De La Vina Street and one on Chapala.  The food is really good.  Also check out the Santa Barbara Art Museum on State.  It's a little chunk of art awesomeness. In addition to the ongoing collections they have loaners from the Armand Hammer collection for the next two months. It's also a block away from the courthouse, which is magnificent, and the Arlington theater, one of the great California movie palaces. If you still have time after all that, pop up and see the Mission. 

Eric

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2015, 10:01:08 AM »
Is San Luis Obispo the place that has the alley where the walls are covered in millions of pieces of gum? Strangely, I'd like to see that!

Yes, there's an alley downtown where the whole wall is covered in gum.  It's a strange attraction!

GAR

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2015, 11:15:56 AM »
I would suggest going to the SB Mission and the botanical gardens (which are close to the Mission).  It's very pretty up there and makes for a relaxing afternoon.

If you like biking, I would suggest getting some bikes and riding down to the beach from the Montecito Inn and then north, past the Biltmore, and along the beach/bike path.   It's beautiful and will take you right to the pier and the start (end?) of State Street.  On Sundays there is an arts and crafts market along the beach.

I also agree with the recommendations for Brophy's on the pier (particularly around sunset) and to see something at the Arlington.

And for a nice burger by the beach, I would suggest Padaro Beach Grill (near Carpinteria, which is where I'm from, so I'm biased!).

PEIslander

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2015, 02:47:54 PM »
Is San Luis Obispo the place that has the alley where the walls are covered in millions of pieces of gum? Strangely, I'd like to see that!

Yes, there's an alley downtown where the whole wall is covered in gum.  It's a strange attraction!

Strange that I knew about that but nothing else about the area! I attach a pic so the OP can skip it if they find it gross...


gimp

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2015, 04:48:01 PM »
Drive along the coast on CA Route 1. Stop anywhere you want to. It's absolutely, insanely fucking gorgeous. It is the archetype of what people think when you say "California" - when you say "I went to vacation in California" they think of you driving along this road


lexie2000

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2015, 06:05:53 PM »
Restaurants in/near San Luis:  McKlintocks (steaks) or The Sea Venture.  I think both are in Pismo Beach.

If you're in San Luis on Thursday they have a really fun farmers' market downtown in the afternoon/evening - live music, good eats, etc.

For the best cinnamon rolls:  The Old West Cinnamon bun factory in Pismo Beach (just south of San Luis).

In Oceana (also south of San Luis) look into the Melodrama (at night).  There is always a hero and a villain and they encourage audience participation (yeahs and boos!!).  It's a hoot.   

In Santa Barbara:  The Palace on Cota Street is excellent (cajun food).  Everything is good.  They offer non-cajun choices (their chicken marsalla is awesome) and their bread pudding for dessert (split it) is to die for.  If you get the first seating of the night, you'll get "something extra".  I'm not going to ruin it by telling you what it is, but it's a lot of fun.

Japanese/Sushi:  Something's Fishy on State St. in Santa Barbara.

If you're into zoos, the Santa Barbara zoo is awesome.  It's just the right size.  Take a picnic lunch.

If you're into museums the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara is really good.

Solvang as someone else mentioned is fun.

I can't think of anything else although I know there is.

I knew I forgot something  - lots of gorgeous wineries in Santa Ynez (a little east of Solvang).  You can drive over San Marcos pass to get to Santa Barbara, but you'll miss seeing the ocean on 101.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 06:08:15 PM by lexie2000 »

EricL

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2015, 06:11:31 PM »
I also agree with the recommendations for Brophy's on the pier (particularly around sunset) and to see something at the Arlington 

Unfortunately the Arlington is showing 50 Shades of Grey.  Though a couple weeks ago they inadvertently added some irony by showing Bluebeard's Castle at the same time.

BTW, the Montecito Inn has loaner bicycles.

michaelrecycles

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2015, 06:49:57 PM »
SB:
Wine tasting at Jaffurs and downtown Funk Zone
Courthouse downtown
Panino - sandwich shop around the corner from the Courthouse
SB Botanical Gardens
SB Mission
UCSB campus is beautiful and easy to walk. I don't think you'll ever see another campus like it. (strong alumni bias talking)

Los Olivos wine tasting on the drive between SB and SLO.
Solvang is touristy, but still cute. It is pastry heaven. The Mission Santa Ines is also in Solvang.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2015, 08:37:43 PM »
In Oceana (also south of San Luis) look into the Melodrama (at night).  There is always a hero and a villain and they encourage audience participation (yeahs and boos!!).  It's a hoot.

Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about that place!

http://www.americanmelodrama.com/

I only got to go one time, but they were doing Drac in the Saddle, which was a vampire tale set in the old wild west.  It was great.  The place is a little (a lot) cramped, as they jam as many seats into the place as physically possible, but it was a wonderful time.  I'm not a live show person normally, but I loved it.  Probably one of my favorite live show experiences.

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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2015, 08:09:30 AM »
The wife and I went to college in SLO.  Great area.

Thursday night has a pretty decent farmer's market.

For food check out Firestone Grill and Splash Cafe.

Pismo beach is fun to stroll around.
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Re: Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2015, 10:41:16 AM »
http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/point-buchon-hiking-trail/

Hiking requires different levels of fitness, but the trail posted above is basically flat and accessible to people of all fitness levels, yet has some of the most spectacular views landscapes of all hikes in SLO county. Often the "easier" hikes are more croweded and less dramatic, but this is the exception.

SoIP