Where the Pacific coast is south facing, and the valleys are sheltered by the Santa Ynez mountains, one finds the elite ocean-facing communities of Summerland, Montecito, Goleta, and Santa Barbara – this is the American Riviera, writes Andrew Forbes.
Found in Santa Barbara’s on-trend arts district, the ‘Funk Zone’, Tyger Tyger is the place to go for Asian cuisine inspired by the street food of Thailand and Vietnam. Chef Palaima’s menu is great for sharing!
Tydes, at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club
Beside the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara is this vintage beach club. I just loved the style! It beautifully captured in my mind at least a bygone age of California cool.
The restaurant Tydes is superb; elegant, relaxed and friendly with great service and delicious food from the team of Executive Chef Marco Fossati.
To enjoy great seafood in authentic surroundings by the harbour, I recommend the fish and chips overlooking Santa Barbara’s harbour at Brophy Bros., a favourite with locals and visitors for seafood, beers and cocktails.
The Dining Room at the El Encanto
The Dining Room is so elegant at El Encanto. However I love eaing on the terrace – splendid views to the Pacific, and a menu that offers the best of California’s Earth and Ocean.
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Santa Barbara is renowned for its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The publis courthouse is a a superb example. It’s free to visit and the bell tower roof offers amazing views!
Wine Tasting in the ‘Funk Zone’
There are now almost 30 tastings rooms on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. Once a fishing industry warehouse district is now a creative hub of downtown studios, galleries, and indie boutiques.
One of my favourites is The Santa Barbara Wine Collective.
The Waterline – Shopping & Socialising
The Waterline is a unique experience in the Funk Zone. A former industrial unit is now a ‘community-centric destination for food, beer and wine and works and wares created by local artisans and skilled craftspeople’. Really worth a visit.
Santa Barbara remains synonymous with surf culture. Although summer may not be the best time to catch the best breaks on California’s west coast, it’s certainly a perfect season for enjoying the beach. Beautiful sands stretch for kilometres, lined with cedar pines. Head to Montecito and chill on Miramar Beach or the beautiful Butterfly Beach.
Montecito’s Lotusland, created by opera singer Ganna Walska, is a magical and flamboyant botanic oasis. When it’s too hot to hike the foothills overlooking the ocean, one can instead be surrounded by exotic nature as well as creative beauty in these fascinating themed gardens.
Founded by Spanish Franciscans in 1786, this active parish church is an integral part of the American Riviera’s history. On August 10th, the Franciscan Friars are offering a behind-the-scenes look at the Old Mission, at their Drinks at Dusk event.
Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean climate, unspoilt, small-town feel, and natural setting between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains has attracted a wealth of upscale and ultra-luxury properties to the area.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara an estate dating back to the 19th century, was formerly The Montecito Country Club. Built in Spanish Colonial Revival style, surrounded by sub-tropical gardens, the resort has stylish guest accommodation within historic garden buildings and classic cottage bungalows.
Dining includes the acclaimed Tydes Restaurant in the adjacent beach club; the Belle Vista Restaurant overlooking the Pacific; the poolside Coral Café & Bar; and the smart Ty Lounge. There’s also a luxurious spa.
You can read my full profile review of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara here.
This is the classic Santa Barbara destination. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, this intimate resort is presently closed for renovations. The restaurant is open. San Ysidro Ranch is set to reopen in June 2019.
El Encanto is an exclusive hilltop estate, that has been completely remodelled and updated. It was once student accommodation in the early 1900s, and then became a chic and understated retreat for Hollywood celebrities.
Following the 2014 multi-million-dollar remodelling, the property is sparkling. The guest bungalows, a mixture of classic American ‘Craftsman’ style or elegant Spanish Colonial Revival ‘Mission’ style boast the kind of amenities and furnishings expected of a Belmond property.
You can read my full profile review of the El Encanto here.
I travelled along California’s scenic Highway 1 with a hire car booked directly with Hertz UK.
I joined Hertz UK’s free ‘Gold Plus Rewards’ service that offered reward points, as well as fast pick-up and returns – superb service. For inspiration on other US road-trips visit the Hertz Road-Trip Planner Online, where you will also find downloadable maps and additional insider guides.
The Visit Santa Barbara site is an inspiring resource for visiting the American Riviera.
The comprehensive Visit California site covers the entire state, and all of the Pacific Coast Highway, with details on what to see and do, as well as where to eat and sleep.