With spring break in full force, and summer right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a few fun things to eat/see/do around Santa Barbara. These places are perfect for a girl’s weekend, a family road trip, or even a day-date with your significant other. My sister and I love these places for our “girl’s days out” when she comes to visit, so I hope you will, too! (Should you ever be in the Santa Barbara neck of the woods.)
First on the list: take a drive up to Solvang! Less than an hour away from Santa Barbara proper, Solvang is the cutest Danish town. It truly feels like you are not in California anymore. I recommend spending a full day here, so you can take in and explore all that the town has to offer. My sister and I went during the Taste of Solvang event a few weekends ago. Let me tell ya, we ate our way around the town!
We got the “tasting passport”, which allowed us to walk to restaurants and bakeries all over town and try little samples of their specialty food. If you’re a foodie, this event would be perfect for you. (Plan a trip for the event next year!) We even got to try the famous aebleskivers (pictured above), which are little spherical Danish pancakes. They are actually hollow, so its like biting into a puffy pancake cloud. What’s not to love? Thank goodness we did a lot of walking to work up an appetite! We didn’t even try the samples at half of the places on the passport because we. were. stuffed.
More Danish pastries- a cinnamon crisp!
To break up the struggle (lol) of trying all the foods on our passport, we had a scavenger hunt around town. (Thank you to my mom for the idea!) We had such a blast running around taking selfies with all the items on the list. I can only imagine how fun this would be with teams of friends and/or family. Some of the items on our list:
- try the aebleskivers ( obvious sustenance-of-choice for the rest of the scavenger hunting)
- find all 4 windmills (there is one hard-to-find windmill, but I promise there are four large, major windmills in Solvang)
- find the big red shoe
- find the mermaid fountain
- go to the mission
- visit the Hans Christen Andersen museum
- sit on the gossip bench
- find the clock tower
- find the round tower
- take a picture of the most Danish architecture you can find
So fun, right? Plus, with all the running around, you work up an appetite=more Danish food! It’s basically a win-win. 😉
Moving back down to Santa Barbara proper: Next on the list is Lilac Patisserie, which is on State Street, right downtown. This dedicated gluten free bakery/ cafe is a beautiful stop for brunch or afternoon tea. The desserts are stunning, but for something more savory, they have a lovely cafe menu with everything from quiches, to sandwiches, to salads.I got a veggie-tomato soup and the kalamata grapefruit salad, which were both specials the day I went there. I want to replicate these recipes at home, because they were so flavorful and healthy!
PS, in case you were wondering, yes, Lilac Patisserie does have a lilac color scheme. So sweet!
Now for my favorite place to stop when I want to feel transported to France: Renaud’s! This patisserie/bistro is authentically French in everything from food to aesthetics. Their quiche is to die for, and they have all sorts of sweet and savory dishes to satisfy any francophile. Think croquet monsieur, pain bagnat, and fresh brioche and baguettes like you wouldn’t believe.
Of course, a stop to Renaud’s wouldn’t be complete without a tea or latte and a macaron! Renaud’s makes the best macarons in all of SB, so there really is no comparison if you are on the hunt for the little French pastry. (And really, if you didn’t photograph your macaron, did you even have one at all?)
Looking for something a little more active and adventurous? The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is like a magical oasis hidden away in the SB hills! This was a recent discovery of mine, and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t know this place existed! (A former local recommended that I go here ASAP. She was right.) The grounds are stunning and offer plenty of places to hike and simply take in the scenery. Definitely bring a camera to capture all of the natural beauty- though I would argue that photos don’t do the garden justice. Just go and see for yourself!
Do you see the little upside-down heart? Love is all around if we just stop to look!
Having a nature-oneness moment in the botanical gardens. 🙂
Tell me- do you have any favorite places to take family and friends in SB? Where are your must-stop places on weekends, road trips, or vacations in the area? I’m always looking for new place to explore! And if you live somewhere else, what are the spots to hit up in that area? The travel bug might just bite me to stop there someday. Have a fabulous week!