Four Seasons The Biltmore Sunday Brunch—Pricey but worth it! The food is amazing and the views will keep you there for at least half the day. Oh yeah, and the mimosas are bottomless, need I say more?
Renaud's Patisserie and Bistro—The best croissants I've had outside of France. Especially the almond encrusted one. *There are a few locations but my personal favorite is the downtown one.
Tupelo Junction—Seriously good comfort food with a country-style meets southern-style flare. Do try the Beignets, I promise you won't be sorry.
Jane—Right on State Street, this spot has the best salads, sandwiches and ambience but is most famous for their coconut cake—it's a-mazing, don't leave without having at least a bite!
Metropulos—On Fridays and Saturdays they make the best gyros with msg-free meat. Just beware there is a following and they run out fast!
The Burger Bus—One of the few food trucks in S.B., but it's definitely worth tracking down. The CB&J burger (Cheese Burger and Jelly) is in my opinion the best burger in town—I know what you're thinking but don't knock it 'til you try it!
Brophy Bros.—Right in the harbor, this is the best spot to have fresh seafood and a cocktail.
Olio Pizzeria—An Italian Pizzeria that is so authentic you may not be able to understand your waiter. My most favorite pizza? The Umbra—black truffles, robiola cheese and crimini mushrooms.
La Super-Rica—Authentic Mexican food that even Julia Child's called her favorite (yup she lived here). Don't be intimidated by the line out the door, it moves fast.
Ca' Dario—By far the best Italian restaurant in S.B. I have yet to meet a ravioli better than Ca' Darios.
Arrigato Sushi—I live for the Fiesta and Dijon Ahi roll.
Cadiz—A new buzzed about restaurant/lounge with a seasonal Mediterranean menu that's also chocked full of amazing options.
Plow & Angel at San Ysidro Ranch—The most romantic spot in Santa Barbara.
Casa Blanca—The newest Mexican restaurant in town and I have to say I'm a fan already. The ambience is ridiculously cool with Spanish tile covering every inch and the margaritas are perfection—especially at the $5 Happy Hour price.
Joe's Cafe—A fun lively scene that is the epicenter of Santa Barbara. Beware they pour a stiff cocktail!
McConnells Ice Cream—I've been coming to this favorite since I was a kid and it never gets old, nor does any other creamery top it. I'm a mint-chip kind of girl but all they're flavors are worth every calorie.
The Presidio Motel—A fun relaxed downtown spot with a retro vibe. They'll loan you stylin' beach cruisers so you can take off and explore the town. Be sure to check out their boutique, The Supply Room.
Inn of the Spanish Gardens—A hidden gem in the heart of downtown S.B. With only 23 rooms it almost feels like you're staying in someone's (very large) home.
Hotel Oceana—Right on the water near the Harbor and the Wharf.
Four Seasons The Biltmore—Located on one of the best beaches in Montecito, Butterfly Beach, The Biltmore is one of the most idyllic places to stay in Santa Barbara. I'd stay there just to hang at the Coral Casino Pool for a day—a beach club across the street accessible to hotel guests.
Best beach, Hammonds (seen here and here). Just to the right of Miramar Beach in Montecito. A semi-private spot that is usually deserted besides a handful of surfers.
Get the best view of the city on a Double Dolphin sunset cruise. It's only $25 to go for a 60 min sail on a 50' catamaran that takes you down the coast towards Montecito. You can even order wine on the boat or bring your own picnic.
Plan ahead and catch a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Every time I see a band play there (Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Ray Lamontagne, Ben Harper) they always play the best show because they fall in love with the town and always without a doubt make a comment about how they can actually see the stars from the stage.
There are loads of amazing hikes but my favorite starts at the foothills of Montecito at the end of Cold Springs Road—Cold Springs Trail. The view is always rewarding at the top.
Wine taste by the beach on the Urban Wine Trail, close to downtown as well. My favorite stop is Municipal Winery which has the most creative interiors, good music and super refreshing rosè.
Picnic at the Santa Barbara Mission Rose Gardens, a giant grassy lawn with an impressive rose garden that faces the Mission—a sight you must see while visiting. Pick up cheese, sandwiches and wine at C'est Cheese or ask them to pack a basket for you! The beau and I coming here with friends and a game of bocce ball, see our recent get-together here.
Dressed and Ready in Montecito—two incredibly stylish stores that house everything from Givenchy and Lanvin to Equipment tops and Toms shoes. You might find yourself saying "hello lover" to a pair of YSL shoes.
A Tropical Affair—Bikini/lingerie heaven. Designed in the most girly, glamorous way possible (think pin-up girl meets the coolest mermaid on the block circa 1950) this downtown shop has favorites like La Perla, Cosabella, Dolce & Gabbana, Melissa Odabash and more.
Peregrine Galleries—A treasure trove of vintage jewelry by Chanel, Mariam Haskell, Zuni and more. Prepare to spend some time browsing and drooling over crazy cool pieces.
Diani Boutique—If you're all about comfortable, chic pieces be sure to check out this boutique which houses favorites like Isabel Marant, Velvet and Elizabeth and James.
Maison K—Every time I step foot in this store I'm inspired to re-decorate my home with a Paris-meets-Africa-meets-the beach vibe. I always leave lusting over an animal print rug or a candle from Paris.
Porch—If a touch of organic modern is your look, you'll love this beachside home store. Grab home and garden accessories on your way out of town—it's just off the freeway in Carpinteria.
Upstairs at Pierre Lafond—Vintage Mexican and Moroccan textiles galore is just the tip of the iceberg at this Montecito shop. Incredibly soft Italian bedding, giant coffee table books, picnic blankets and PJs are a few things I've spotted and loved there recently.
Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez—This is one of my favorite things to do when Santa Barbara is banked in with fog. You can always count on there being sunshine in Santa Ynez, just 30 min north. A few stops that are at the top of my list: Curtis Winery, Carhartt Winery, Los Olivos Cafe, Roblar Winery, Sunstone Winery, Enjoy Cupcakes (seen here) and Cold Spring Tavern (seen here).
Ojai—The trip to Ojai from Santa Barbara (taking the 150 route, 30 min) is worth the scenic drive alone—you'll pass orchards, wide open meadows, lake casitas, deer and mountains. There's just something about Ojai that forces you to relax—especially if you visit the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Here are some favorite spots of mine that I love to frequent: Boccalis *Ojai location, Knead Bakery, Osteria Monte Grappa, Julia Rose (clothing) and Hattie (clothing).