Exploring Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley

Dad and I have 2 part days and 4 full days in the Santa Barbara area – just enough to have a good visit and see some of what the region has to offer.

My first outing on Tuesday morning was just a walk around the neighbourhood to get my bearings. Looking at maps (both print and online) before and after the walk made it very useful. This spot is about half a mile down the hill.
Goleta, California
My guidebook for this trip is Hometown Santa Barbara. While it was published in 2009, the layout makes it very easy to use, and it makes me wish that I had a year to explore the area!
Hometown Santa Barbara
I dropped my sister off at her office and then Dad and I went down to Goleta Beach County Park to just soak up some sun and scenery. The land above the beach in the distance is the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara.
Goleta Beach - Santa Barbara, California
Dad tired out quickly so we went back to the house and while he had a nap, I enjoyed the property.
Santa Barbara, California
I decided mid-afternoon to drive into Santa Barbara to have a look around. This is the road from the house up to Highway 154, which offers the quickest access to town.
Santa Barbara, California
There are a lot of great attractions in Santa Barbara, but the coolest thing I’ve seen yet is certainly this Hot Rod Limousine 🙂
Hot Rod Limousine - Santa Barbara, California
The centre of the tourist action is probably Stearns Wharf, which runs out to sea from State Street, over West Beach.
Stearns Wharf - Santa Barbara, California
There was a kid’s sailboat race going on in the harbor – good fun to watch from the wharf.
Sailboat race at Santa Barbara, California
There are a few shops out at the end of the wharf, and although I walked out, you can drive out and there’s a fair bit of parking for only $2.50 per hour.
Stearns Wharf - Santa Barbara, California

There’s a lot more going on than I’ll tell you about – we’ll move on to Wednesday morning now.

Close to the house is a wonderful walking trail that goes along San Antonio Creek in Tucker’s Grove County Park.
San Antonio Creek Trail - Santa Barbara, California
Shady trails are apparently hard to come by on a warm day, and many of the live oak trees in particular are massive. The creek doesn’t seem to have any water running very often, but it must be gorgeous when it does.
San Antonio Creek Trail - Santa Barbara, California
Going back to the house at 08:40 after an hour’s walk during which I only met 5 other people, I crossed over this very sturdy little dam, which looks very odd in a dry gulley.
San Antonio Creek - Santa Barbara, California
By about 09:30 all 4 of us were in the car for the main excursion of the day, a wine tour to the Santa Ynez Valley, with poor Dick as the Designated Driver. The change in scenery once you cross over the Santa Ynez Mountains from the coast on Highway 154 is very dramatic.
Santa Barbara, California
This is the third year of drought in the region, and the water level of Cachuma Lake is shockingly low. The lake was created by the construction of 201-foot-high Bradbury Dam in 1953.
Bradbury Dam, California
Our first wine stop was in Los Olivos, a very colourful little community with 27 (!) wine tasting rooms. We went to Qupè, which has some very nice wines. Cathy and I have never looked at California wines too seriously, but when I get home I’ll be checking to see what our liquor store carries.
Los Olivos, California
Our next stop was Santa Ynez, but it wasn’t for wine, it was for a couple of excellent shops, and lunch. The western shop had some great stuff for the cowboy-oriented – some of the boots were gorgeous 🙂
Santa Ynez, California
The next winery was Zaca Mesa, where I couldn’t resist buying a couple of bottles of their 2009 Syrah.
Zaca Mesa Winery, California
The location of Zaca Mesa was particularly scenic, and as we were leaving I climbed a small hill above the winery to get this view.
Zaca Mesa Winery, California
Our final winery was Foxen, whose 2011 Pinot Noir Melville Vineyard got my vote as the best wine I’d tasted that day. At $62 per bottle, it was also the priciest 🙁 It was an excellent day – very educational as well as enjoyable.
Foxen Winery, California
We took Highway 101 to get home, through dramatic Gaviota Pass, then made a stop along the coast to stretch our legs.
The coast at Gaviota State Park, California
I took a bit of a wander to get a few shots of a railway trestle and abandoned highway bridge.
Along Highway 1010, California
One final shot of the coast at that spot.
Santa Barbara, California

The next day, Dad and I would be on our own to explore, and there was so much too see…


Exploring Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley — 1 Comment

  1. Very interesting. Those beaches sure are beautiful. I love to see pictures of the beach even though I am not a water person.