I will be travelling to Santa Barbara in 2 weeks time from the East coast with my boyfriend who is going for business. I need some suggestions on what to do by myself around that area during the week. I will have a rental car. I'm very much into the outdoors, hiking, etc. but I'm not sure if I feel comfortable doing that on my own. On the weekend we will probably hit some wineries and hopefully take a day trip to Sequoia or Channel Islands NP. I've read about Santa Barbara botanic gardens which sounds great and I guess I will hit the beach at least one of the days. Any other ideas?
Santa Barbara is a personal favorite; locally, the beach and the pier are lovely to walk - watch for dolphins. Driving (as a non-driver) my partner took us up into the mountains - if you can locate Gibralter Point (SB/Montecito area) it will lead you to a fabulous drive thru' the mountains - try to locate the Chumash area, it's similar to African savannah-land. Unfortunately, the highway bridge is too fast to appreciate the landscape but if you get off it there is the Chumash Lake area that I think would be worthwhile to take a look at - there are cruises on the lake. Further on, there's a town you could end up in based on a Danish theme (Solvang ??? - cheesy tourist trap) - turn around.
The town of SB itself is worth a good look - galleries, antiques, restaurants, etc. and great to walk. If you like history don't miss the Mission and the Town Hall (take the tour and go up to the roof of the TH for a 360 view) - look for the trolley from the Pier, it takes you a couple of miles up the main street for a few cents.
Otherwise, the Pacific Coast Highway may lead you to places of interest (we're usually heading to Carmel or LA/San Diego when in SB) ... it's getting late here in Toronto ... with dinner/wine the little grey cells aren't too clear, but if I think of anything else I'll post ... there's a restaurant - not the main pier, overlooking the marina, that does great seafood (name?) and it's fun to watch the herons try and steal the fishermen's catch; easy walking from the pier area.
PS: If you're a mystery reader, Sue Grafton bases her female PI stories in SB -called Santa Theresa in her books(it's driven me crazy finding the locations which obviously are slighty different..!) ... sorry, I can't help you with the hiking around SB, although I probably wouldn't go it alone. Hopefully, a VT'er from the SB area is logged on and will add their info re. the surrounding area ... enjoy!
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My favorite SB hike is Cathedral peak, but it may be more difficult than you want.
Santa Barbara Sports & Outdoors Tips by VA_Dave
My brother used to do Cathedral solo several times a week, just for training!
The hike "Tunnel trail to Inspiration Point" starts out on the same route as Cathedral, but is an easier introduction to SB hiking
I think it would be pretty safe to do tunnel alone, since there are generally lots of other hikers/joggers there. In fact, the main problem may be finding a legal parking space! And while you are doing Tunnel Trail, you will likely meet someone who can show you the Cathedral trail cutoff and maybe even take you up it. Just be sure to make friends with one of the local dogs that hang around the trail head - they are always looking for someone to take them on a hike!
Another great adventure is kayaking in the Channel Islands sea caves. No previous experience is required - you get a 5 minute introduction and off you go. You can probably book a trip with other folks, so no problem with going alone. Check with the local tour/dive shops.
You can also rent a sea kayak down at the harbor and explore the harbor and nearby shore. We went way out to some buoys that were covered with sea lions!
Every evening in SB we like to go down to the beach to watch for the "Green Flash". Of course you can see it better with a glass of wine in your hand. See my page
Santa Barbara Favorite Tips by VA_Dave
My fave SB restarants:
Super Rica Taqueria
A favorite of Julia Child!
Check for weekly or seasonal specials
Have a great trip!
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