Week 8: California Diary. Top 5 places to visit in Santa Barbara

Top 5 places to visit in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is one of the most sophisticated cities to live in the United States. It has a very chic European feel, gorgeous Spanish architecture, near Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, famous resorts and a selection of some of the most expensive and luxurious mansions on the West Coast.

My husband Ben was born and spent his childhood in Santa Barbara and he hopes that one day we will have our own house there. Although, I find the 'American Riviera' (that’s one of Santa Barbara’s nicknames) a little bit slow paced for younger people, I fell in love with the city and I definitely recommend you visit!

The gorgeous Santa Barbara is nestled between the blue ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. I often caught myself thinking that some of the picturesque views the city has to offer remind me of the island in Jurassic World.

Santa Barbara looks like the Jurassic World island

Apart from the breathtaking natural sights, I wanted to share with you my personal favourite spots in Santa Barbara.

TOP 5 Places to Visit in Santa Barbara:

1. Santa Barbara Courthouse.

The place where we got married! It is considered one of the most beautiful government buildings in America. Do not miss The Mural Room (paintings by Daniel Sayre Grosbeak spread all over the walls telling a romanticised version of Santa Barbara's history) and the El Mirador clock tower.

Свадьба в Санта-Барбаре, Калифорния
Wedding in the Mural Room at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

2. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center at the pier.

Visiting the pier is a fun experience by itself! You can get a bag of delicious candies in the little candy bar and enjoy the view of the ocean. Or you can buy a huge seashell, Christmas tree ornaments made from starfishes and other cute trinkets from the gifts shops at the pier.

But what would really make you feel like a 5-year-old again is a visit to the Sea Center where you can pet small sharks, poke sea anemones and urchins, and touch sea snails and starfishes.

The Sea Center in Santa Barbara

The museum is quite small, but surprisingly I enjoyed it even more than the famous London Aquarium back in England.

3. Stella Mare's

When I saw the pictures of this restaurant online, I told Ben that no matter what else we did in Santa Barbara, we HAD to go check it out. Frankly, I wanted to hold our wedding celebration at Stella Mare's, but they were not open that Monday.

I had to settle with a big lunch date at Stella Mare's with my love on Sunday afternoon the day before our wedding :) The restaurant exceeded my expectations! Stella Mare's is far more beautiful and fairy-tale-like in person, and it has the most delicious food ever. 

Stella Mare's
Stella Mare's in Santa Barbara
Best French restaurant in California - Stella Mare's

4. Belmond El Encanto

A luxury restaurant with a dazzling ocean view and impeccable service.

Belmont El Encanto, Santa Barbara

5. Cold Spring Tavern

A little step away from all the European chicness and luxury, Cold Spring Tavern is an antique-filled tavern hidden in the forest, high in the mountains (you can get there by car and the views are, again, unbelievable!) I found about the tavern online and we booked it because it has a very 'Lord of the Rings' feel. 

Cold Spring Tavern. Lord of the rings fans will love

Of course there are more places that are worth visiting in Santa Barbara, but I wanted to share with you my own special list of places I loved. Hopefully Ben and I will continue travelling a lot, and I will be able to share more personalized travel tips with you in the future!