Now I will be honest with you guys, every time I visit Santa Barbara one thing is true, I fall more and more in love with the destination each time. Literally I have to stop myself from packing my bags and just moving to this beautiful place. It is the perfect combination of great wine tasting, the beach, shopping, and some delicious restaurants. For this trip my two friends Aly & Ellie joined me as I headed to Santa Barbara for a weekend full of food and wine. We honestly had the best time and I am so excited to share with you all about our adventures and how you can visit Santa Barbara for a COVID-style safe getaway. Everywhere we went we felt comfortable with things socially distanced and all employees were wearing masks at each place we went to.
Ballin’ on a budget:
This trip we stayed in the newly remodeled Hyatt Place Santa Barbara. I am a World of Hyatt member and was able to use my rewards and points to stay at this location. They had things very socially distant and all the employees wore masks. They offered complimentary breakfast and complimentary water and soda throughout the day. Our parking in their garage was also free, great way to save on expenses! The hotel was a quick Uber to the downtown locations and was a great option for our trip.
Ready to splurge:
For my next trip to Santa Barbara I definitely want to stay closer to the wharf area in downtown which is walking distance to so many things.
Hotel Californian is literally a dream hotel right across from the water and in the heart of the action in downtown. We had the opportunity to walk around the hotel and every inch was an “instagramable” moment.
There are many great options where to stay in this area depending on where you want to be so I would recommend visiting the Visit Santa Barbara website for more descriptions on each place.
Cajé Coffee Roasters – Visit Cajé for some truly gourmet and creative coffee cocktails – like seriously, the coffee “cocktails” are incredible and so beautiful!
Industrial Eats – With wood fire pizza, New American eats, a deli, and more, there is something for everyone. As we were enjoying our wine tasting, our tour guide & driver Scott, went and picked up our lunch selections. We were able to set up a private lunch at the winery and eat our food while continuing our tasting.
Bouchon – For dinner the first evening we were researching where to go and found the amazing California French cuisine restaurant, Bouchon. In a quaint outdoor courtyard with bistro style seating, I felt like we were transported to France all while being in the downtown Santa Barbara area. We decided to each get the Cabernet-Braised Short Rib. I substituted the roasted brussels for broccolini (delish!) and the creamy polenta was a superb component of the meal. I would be lying if I said this meal was anything less than mouth-watering as the short rib was so tender.
Slate Catering Co. – At our tasting with Jamie Slone Wines, we had a nice surprise of a yummy cheese & charcuterie box provided by Slate Catering Co. It was a great pairing during our wine tasting.
Convivo Restaurant – Our dinner the second evening was definitely one for the books as we headed downtown to Convivo. A beautiful Italian and Mediterranean inspired oceanfront restaurant located in the Santa Barbara Inn hotel.
We began our evening with lamb meatballs with a chickpea, rhubarb, tapenade hummus side. Next we chose a curly kale and crispy chickpea salad and an insulate mercato, YUM!
For the main courses we had the Guinzaglio pasta, a 7 hour veal bologngnese and Parmigiano. YES, it was as fabulously delicious as it sounds. The other pasta we chose was the Bucatini, a spicy pancetta with tomato & chile. Needless to say by the end of this meal we were STUFFED!
Their drinks were also great, and I highly recommend the Espresso Martini!
In the vineyards:
Folded Hills – This winery is full of family history with a long line of generations of farmers. The family tree dates back to Lilly Anheuser and Adolphus Bucsh, that’s right the iconic Anheuser-Busch Companies headquartered in St. Louis. The current generation of family landed in beautiful California and began their passion of wine with Folded Hills. They have a fantastic portfolio of wines to sip on AND let’s not forget about the cheeseboard we had with our tasting as well!
Pence Vineyards & Winery – This winery is focused on the quest for producing Burgundian-inspires wines at their estate. They have an indoor tasting room at their main entrance of the winery, however we were in for a surprise! Our tasting occurred in their quaint outdoor lawn area next to the vineyards and outdoor scenery.
Strange Family Vineyards – As we drove through the private gated entrance to the winery, we were blown away by the views on the hillside. Not to mention the grounds of the winery were gorgeous and had chandeliers hanging from the trees and an infinity pool overlooking at the vineyards.
Downtown tasting rooms:
Jamie Slone Wines – Located in the Santa Barbara presidio area, this wine tasting room has an eclectic indoor tasting room. Outside they have bistro tables set in their Terraza and socially distanced. We tasted through a selection of their wines and enjoyed learning more about the history of the Stone family from Jamie Slone himself!
J. Wilkes Wines – Located in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone neighborhood, across the street from the wharf and Hotel Californian Hotel. This wine tasting room is apart of the iconic J. Wilkes portfolio and offered a great selection of wine. One of their wine tasting experiences includes a wine and chocolate pairing. They also have a full lunch menu to choose from, including cheese & charcuterie boards!
For our wine tour we had the opportunity to join Sustainable Wine Tours for an incredible experience. We were picked up from our hotel by Scott, the owner and our host for the day. Nothing like riding through wine country in style in a Tesla SUV. Scott brought us sparkling wine to enjoy while on the way to our tastings, don’t worry it is completely legal as they have the same license as a limo service.
Everything was set up for us for the entire day including lunch being picked up and getting to picnic at one of our wine tastings. (Scott even brought hand sanitizer and a whole set up for us with plates and silverware for our meal!) I LITERALLY cannot recommend Sustainable Wine Tours enough and hope you check them out for setting up your wine tasting!
Overall, we had such a great time touring through the area and cannot wait to go back. We want to send a huge thank you to Visit Santa Barbara for helping host and welcome us for this girls weekend getaway! I hope this guide helped as you plan your trip to visit Santa Barbara!
Paid & hosted experience