WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY to take a road trip (even a mini one) presents itself, you seize that opportunity. So, when a work trip to Los Angeles came up, we promptly checked over our itinerary, found a couple of days and made some plans. However, first things first - post landing at LAX, it's time to reacquaint ourselves with this incredible city - it's a sensory overload!
Our first stop is to say hello to our lovely new Lumira stockist, Shoppe By Amber Interiors (a must-visit if you are in town). While the online store will have you reaching for your credit card, why not take it for a spin to Calabasas - the very heart of Shoppe By Amber Interiors.
For the health conscious Angeleno, Gracias Madre is the place to go for lunch or dinner. It's vegan... and astonishingly delicious. The guacamole and house made chips are enough to quell any complaints from a meat-eating dinner companion and while we certainly came for the Mexican food (and knockout interiors), we stayed for the tequila.
But enough about L.A. We're heading 95 miles north to Santa Barbara. While the coastline certainly isn't unfamiliar, there is nothing quite so Californian dreaming as the Pacific Coast Highway (we're taking the scenic route).
If you've come all this way, it would be rude not to make a pitstop at The Jolly Oyster at Ventura Beach. BYO Californian rosé and find a picnic bench to eat the freshest of fresh oysters and clams. If the neo-hippies parked at the bench beside you - Moët in one hand, oysters in the other - are anything to go by, we'd be right in saying that this, right here, is living.
Back on the road and with Santa Barbara in our sights, we're ticking off some of our must-do's is this classic Californian beach town!
If you are only going to eat one meal while in Santa Barbara, let it be at The Lark - it has carved a name for itself as a Santa Barbara 5-star dining institution and it's no surprise why. Locally sourced and responsibly grown produce is the order of the day when it comes to the menu at The Lark. Equally as impressive is the interiors of The Lark - did someone say mahogany and exposed light fittings?
La Super Rica Taqueria
Expect a line - sometimes for an hour - if La Super Rica Taqueria is on your Santa Barbara bucket list (which, it should be). When Julia Child - the queen of French gastronomy in America - announced La Super Rica Taqueria was the Mexican joint to visit upon any trip to Santa Barbara, fans flocked and word spread. La Super Rica Taqueria is one of the best spots for delicious, fresh Mexican fare and equally delicious prices.
We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't give special mention to Olio Pizzeria - who doesn't want to know where the most delicious local pizza spot is when visiting a new city? The more casual dining experience to sister venue, Olio e Limone, Olio Pizzeria is the perfect spot to round out a busy day. Settle in with a glass of vino and let the incredible staff serve you up an artisanal Italian meal.
Les Merchands Wine Bar & Merchants
Located in the Funk Zone, Les Merchands Wine Bar & Merchants is where you will find serious wine aficionados... and seriously good wine. However, forget about pretension - this place is all about good times and good friends. If you're feeling peckish, order some small share plates to accompany a delicious local drop!
Located in Goleta, a city located in Southern Santa Barbara district, The Imperial is located in an unassuming parking lot. At this point you are wondering why we've a) taken you out of central Santa Barbara and b) taken you to a dark parking lot. Step through the nondescript doorway, into the dimly lit bar and order a cocktail. Now you know why. Wanting to make like a local? Order a cucumber margarita, sit back and enjoy your surrounds. It's not everyday you find a gem of a place like The Imperial.
While Outpost should certainly be on the list for brunch, the libations here are imaginative and perfect post ocean swim. Book a table outdoors and enjoy a Tommy's Margarita. The setting, not unlike the hotel in which it is situated, epitomises Cali-cool!
Bacara Resort & Spa
The Santa Barbara lifestyle very much revolves around the incredible coastline. So when Bacara Resort says "vista views of the sea and sky" they mean it. Bacara is all about the experience - daily yoga and pilates classes (overlooking the sea), poolside cabanas (at all three pools... that overlook the sea) and wine tours that undoubtedly finish... by the sea. While you may well want to reserve Bacara for a romantic getaway, rest assured the resort is both child and pet friendly.
The Wayfarer is where the cool kids stay. Part hotel, part hostel, this new accomodation is located only moments away from Santa Barbara's Funk Zone and Urban Wine Trail. Don't let the thought of loud, unkempt backpackers put you off a stay here. The Wayfarer is casual, but not flakey on the luxurious amenities - your choice of a queen or king bed in the private rooms, free Wifi, complimentary continental breakfast and if you're feeling a little rambunctious, communal Ping Pong and Jenga to your hearts content.
Goodland - A Kimpton Hotel
Located outside central Santa Barbara, Goodland can be found in the suburb of Goleta. This is So-Cal at its finest - think coastal cuisine, standup paddle boarding and cocktails at sundown. The beautiful rooms make for luxurious break from all the outdoor activity you will enjoying under the Cali sun. Not only that, Goodland plays home to restaurant and cocktail bar, Outpost (as above). We don't blame you if your Santa Barbara vacation ends up being a Goleta getaway!
Santa Barbara is unrivalled when it comes to Californian coastal beauty - some say it's the American Riviera. So with that in mind, make a dip in the ocean the first order of the day. Now it's time to hit Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. The Funk Zone district lays claim to the area between the ocean and Highway 101 and sits adjacent to the Amtrak Station. Not sure what to expect from the Funk Zone? Wine tasting rooms, cafes, galleries and beautiful boutiques.