Spring 2023 California Road Trip – Santa Barbara

Visit Date: April 30, 2023

Pro Travel Tip: When planning to go to Santa Barbara, give yourself more than 2 weeks lead time to plan. My OHSU boss, Marie, is from Santa Barbara so when Carla and I planned to go I reached out to Marie for some tips on hotels, restaurants, things to do. If I remember correctly she recommended the Beach Harbor Inn; when we checked there were no rooms available. No problem; even though we are only two weeks out from our planned visit there are sure to be plenty of motels and hotels with vacancy. WRONG. We found 1 room within a few blocks of the beach: The Marina Park Motel. It was a nice, clean, and comfortable. There was no view but we felt lucky we found it.

We stayed two nights and arrived late on the first night due to our side trip to the Carrizo Plains National Monument. So we had one full day to see what we could see. The first order of business was to walk along the waterfront. The view was all you’d expect: green grass, palm trees, with a dash of mountains.

Santa Barbara, California

There is a beautiful pier with all types of attractions.

Were there boats you ask? Oh yes. What kind are you interested in seeing? From the pier we watch a group of outriggers speeding around the posts and then into shore.

Rowers in Santa Barbara

But the sailboats were the most prevalent mode of water travel. I think these folks slept onboard.

Docked sailboat with dinghy in Santa Barbara

The downtown area has a large section set aside for pedestrian traffic. We spent a couple of hours wandering the tourist area. Most of the shops had quirky displays outside their doors. This day-of-the-dead sculpture was my favorite.

Day of the Dead sculpture outside Casa Comal in Santa Barbara.

Various potted plants abound. Here is a Bird of Paradise (I’m pretty sure)

Bird of Paradise – Downtown Santa Barbara.

Carla heard the word “museum” so we headed over to the edge of the downtown area to find the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. The focus was the history of life along the central California coast. I loved this early Martin Guitar. I apologize for the glare.

The sign says this:

Thomas and Francisca de la Guerra Dibble purchased this guitar in New York City while on their honeymoon in 1868-69. The guitar is considered the earliest known example of Martin’s work.

Guitar, circa 1868
C.F. Martin & Co., maker
Gift of Virginia Dibblee
Restoration made possible through the generosity of Chris Jensen, Jensen Guitar & Music Company

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

We headed back to our room in the late afternoon to rest a bit before dinner. I wish I could remember the name of the place, and looking at the maps does’t jog my memory. But I do remember the delicious shrimp chili rellenos.

Dinner, Yum

It was very nice and we had rooftop seating overlooking the harbor. Here is a sailboat motoring out from its slip to capture the sunset.

Sailboat pulling out of Santa Barbara harbor for a sunset cruise.

Remember earlier I mentioned that sailboats were the predominant water transportation? Want proof?

Mostly Sailboats in the Santa Barbara Harbor
Sailboats in the Santa Barbara Harbor

After a nice dinner we walked along the waterfront again then turned in. The next day we would visit the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden (thanks to Marie’s recommendation) before going down the coast to Los Angeles and a chance to see some TRAINS! But those are the next two posts. Stay tuned.

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