Santa Barbara Weekender

Santa Barbara Weekender

        There’s nothing better than kicking off Summer with a little weekend getaway. Especially one that involves cold beer, a sandy beach and family (or pup) friendly accommodations. One of the lovely things about living in Southern California – there’s no shortage of wonderful, accessible destinations for this kind of weekend escapism.



Cue snide comments, eye-rolls and begrudging guffaws.



        I know, I know – it’s true, we are very lucky. I’ve always thought so. As a child I loved whenever we had the chance to escape the day to day and travel together as a family. It was such a treat. When Spring Vacation came round we often rotated between two of my parents’ favorite beachy, socal locales… La Jolla, and Santa Barbara.

Goodness. Reading that back makes me feel so fancy. Much fancier than I am, I assure you.



        My family was not the flashiest on the block. And considering where I grew up, we were definitely not the most well-off – but my parents always made sure to show my sister and I that it was possible to enjoy a little travel and leisure without breaking the bank.


I love them for this.



        So when Ryan and I decided to plan a short weekend away, nostalgia kicked in and I instantly thought –

Santa Barbara. Why not?



It needed to be a place that was within a comfortable driving distance (we only had 3 days), could accommodate Ella (she’s basically our child) with somewhere that served beer and burgers (this was Ryan’s criteria. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t agree).


No problems there.



        Thus we began putting plans in motion for our little Santa Barbara Weekender. If you time it just right, you can beat the Summer crowd and the seasonal rate increase. We caught the tail end and headed out the very first weekend of June. I loved that we could bring the pup and lose the extra hassle of boarding her – it made the trip all the more special.

        We took walks, caught up, hung out, explored – and we had a great time doing it. While the city wasn’t exactly the way I remembered it (yes there were a few more tourists and frat-house hipsters this time round) it was the perfect little getaway. Beaches were walked. Beers and burgers were had. Pups and peeps all happy. Let the Summer commence.




Here are a few of our favorite sips, spots, and to-do’s in sunny Santa Barbara! If you have any favorites to add please share!


1. Lodging:


Marina Beach Motel


        We loved this place. Not only was it dog friendly – Motel is definitely a misnomer! It had the cutest little kitchenette, a working AC and a yummy complimentary breakfast each morning. The bed was comfortable enough (as shown – Ella approved) and the space quaint and welcoming. At just a few blocks walking distance from the beach and under $250 per night, we dug it.

And yes, this is Ella and she has her own iphone. But don’t worry. We limit her screentime. 😉


2. Sips:


Deep Sea Tasting Room


        I know what you’re thinking – wait… isn’t this wine? You are 100% correct. And this place was just lovely. It’s located on the pier just north of Bath Street. I have to be honest, I was skeptical when Ryan suggested it. The pier seemed so typical. So done. But we shared a midday tasting that included 5 wines for about $15 and they all exceeded my expectations. It’s a little place tucked away on the backside (in a second story space) so it’s quiet and secluded from the typical pier hustle and bustle. And really, you can’t beat this view…



Brass Bear Brewing:


        This little spot is hiding in a corner of the Funk Zone (say what?). Yep, Funk Zone. Apparently this is a new hipster corridor of downtown that definitely did not exist when I was a kid. I loved the branding and the little details of this spot – not to mention the beers. We ordered a tasting flight (see above) and all of the beers were refreshing and very drinkable. They even tackled an aged sour (which takes guts) – the result – an invigorating, zesty brew with a tarteness on the front that was nicely balanced with a little depth on the end. Great place to taste!


Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.:

Figueroa Mountain Tasting Room, courtesy of


        Figueroa Mountain has been coming up on the craft beer scene and this little tasting room was just the right amount of outdoor patio bistro-light magic and craft brew heaven. It definitely gets louder and crazier as the night goes on, so we thought it best for a quick place to pop in and taste before dinner. Excellent beers – and pizza – if you don’t quite make it to dinner, that is.


3. Eats:


Yellow Belly Tap and Restaurant


Yellow Belly Tap, courtesy of


        Burgers done right. This little gem had a stellar list of rotating craft brews, tasty local wines (yes I sampled both) and a small, but mighty menu. Seriously, it took us about 10 years to order because we wanted one. of. everything. Great little spot to sit back and relax and the food was so yummy! And Ryan got his burger. Everyone was happy.


4. Activities:


Douglas Family Preserve


        We found a great place to wander through blooming foliage and forestry at Douglas Family Preserve. It was just a short drive North of the Marina Beach Motel, and I loved that some trails drop you off almost directly onto the dog friendly beach that’s below. We’re talking mild hiking here – nothing too crazy. Though Ella is completely in her element hiking. As is evident by her face in this photo. You wouldn’t think it looking at her short legs and little fluff-ball of a body, but she is actually quite agile. More agile than myself I would say (which is probably not saying a lot).


Arroyo Burro Beach Park



        Ella loves to hike, but she is still getting used to the beach and the waves. This dog beach is a great spot to practice, because it is a long stretch of sand that you can walk up and down freely and there are designated areas for dogs both on leash and off. Lots of space to explore, rocks to climb and friends to meet. Not a bad place to snap a few photos either. Loved these views of the coastline!


Such a great trip and a fun weekend destination! Please share your Santa Barbara favorites in the comments below!

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