Santa Barbara

Get Smart With Knitting and Wine in Santa Barbara

Posted August 17, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Ca-santabarbara-losolivos-d Add an educational element to your Santa Barbara vacation. Behind the doors of this seaside town's funky boutiques and upscale restaurants is a bevy of fun and affordable classes. Check out a tea-sipping knitter's circle, educate your palate at an award-winning restaurant, and unwind at a cozy inn by the water.

Loop & Leaf: Knit, purl, and sip the afternoon away at the Loop & Leaf. At this yarn and tea shop, knitting and crocheting workshops are accompanied by cups of delicately blended loose-leaf teas. Choose from 50 colors of novelty and mill yarns, grab a mug of harmony herb tea, then head to Knit 101 to make a set of handwarmers (or whatever's on the schedule when you visit.) For something more in-depth, pour a cup of marvelous mango black tea and pop into the Advanced Sock Series or another of the more challenging classes. Of course, you can also always just bring yourself and your knitting project to a Tuesday evening knitters' circle.

Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant: This Zagat-rated restaurant serves up artisan cheese plates, house-made spinach gnocchi, chocolate pizza, and popular weekly wine workshops. For example, at Understanding Your Palate, wine specialists teach your taste buds to distinguish between cherries and spice in Pinot Noir and tropical fruit flavors in Chardonnay. Every Wednesday evening a different local winemaker opens five different vintages for a one-of-a-kind tasting. Both workshops are paired with discounts on featured wines and hors d'oeuvres, all for $15 per person.

Inn by the Harbor: After all that learning, rejuvenate at this cozy inn with all the ingredients for a relaxing stay. Tastefully decorated rooms are a short stroll from beaches and restaurants. Or stay in, meandering through the hotel's tropical gardens, swimming in the heated pool, and indulging in afternoon wine and cheese or evening milk and cookies. Rates start at $133 per night and depend on the season.

To search for flights and compare prices to Los Angeles, which is home to Santa Barbara’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission)

Here's to Your Health and Wallet in Santa Barbara

Posted July 14, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Ca-santabarbara-courthouse Once a favorite stop for people traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is now coming into its own as a major destination. And feeling good is the name of the game. Come discover how affordable this waterfront city can be and what it has to offer with its free audio-walking tour of architecture and history. After you work up an appetite, stop in for some healthy eats before heading to your homey inn nearby.

Beyond the Rooftops; Santa Barbara's Red Tile Walking Tour: With the help of modern technology and the vocal styling of John O'Hurley from Seinfeld, you can learn all you'd ever want to know about Santa Barbara's Spanish architectural heritage. Once you download the one-hour podcast, you can follow Hurley's directions through 12 blocks to find 22 historic adobes from the 1700s and 1800s. The podcast is free to download.

The Natural Cafe: Serving only the freshest ingredients, this all-natural cafe doesn't fool around with your health. Vegetarians and vegans will delight in the variety of non-meat and non-dairy options, though it's not all tofu and tempeh. The cafe serves three different types of burgers, all made without red meat, as well as chicken or fish entrees. You can finish your meal with a shake or fruit smoothie without feeling guilty. Entrees start at $6.75.

Franciscan Inn: Only one block from the beach and close to downtown, the Franciscan Inn combines prime location with killer prices. The 1920s Spanish-style building's setting in a residential neighborhood creates a local atmosphere for your stay and home-baked cookies and a hot beverage bar just add to the welcoming feel. Relax by the outdoor heated pool before making your way to the excitement of the city. Rooms start at $114, and include continental breakfast.

To search for flights and compare prices to Santa Barbara, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Santa Barbara Convention and Visitors Bureau)

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