I know what you are thinking, but while Santa Barbara has often been known for the rich and famous who play there, you don’t need to be either to have a fantastic time. I know this because while I am very rich and infinitely spectacular in my mind, I am merely infinitely spectacular in real life (though I’m happy to say that lottery tickets have been purchased). Despite this financial limitation, I have developed a taste for the finer things in life, and Santa Barbara is a nice way to indulge—thankfully, I’m learning how to enjoy the city even with limited means.
Summerland is about five miles outside of the actual city of Santa Barbara. While a lot of tourists head up there for the beaches, I made a beeline for the winery (http://www.summerlandwine.com/). The tasting room is open from 11am to 6pm, and I highly recommend visiting during the earlier portion of the day. I went with my friend Pen, and she and I were there early enough to get a lot of attention from the person running the tasting. Normally, talking to strangers is something I try to avoid, but he was entertaining and knowledgeable, so I took a deep breath and played along. It helped that Pen knows much more about wine than I do, and she took the lead, but if you are traveling alone, this is something you can definitely do by yourself. The tasting was about $15, and included a lot of tastes (including a couple of extras for comparison). Obviously, their goal is for you to buy, and if you are on a budget, you might be inclined to shy away from this idea. Good news for you! Summerland has some excellent choices that will not break you (and if you are feeling flush, they have some good options for that frame of mind, as well). I went middle of the road and chose a 2007 Trio (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre) to commemorate the trip. If I trip across tall, dark and handsome, I’ll offer it up. And since that is unlikely, it will probably be my contribution to “California Wines” night at wine club.
Santa Barbara Winery
The next stop on my SB trip was the aptly named Santa Barbara Winery (http://www.sbwinery.com/). The tasting was only $10, and you were gifted the glass upon completion (old school and an awesome memento). I was partial to their reds, but that’s how I swing normally. It’s convenient to restaurants and sites, and an easy place to enjoy quite a variety of wines. Did I mention all the available free parking? I know that seems like an odd selling point to many, but if you are from Los Angeles, you know how key free and easy parking is.
Lewis & Clark: Antiques and Fine Things
For the truly broke, this is a dangerous place. You can do a lot of damage in this completely charming store on State Street (http://www.lewisandclarkltd.com/location/). We probably spent at least a half hour browsing through the books, novelties and antiques, but no section is more enthralling than the Christmas ornaments and village pieces. I’m still coveting one of the jewel-toned scarves (couldn’t decided between the deep emerald and the garnet one). Sounds like an excellent excuse to revisit!