Travel


Bespoke Experiences in Santa Barbara, the American Riviera

Ruksana Hussain


Santa Barbara, located in the American Riviera, is just the right size for a weekend to weeklong stay and has enough to do but not too much that you feel overwhelmed. Learn more about what this beautiful city has to offer in this short travel guide.


Known for its Spanish architecture, multimillion-dollar homes and wine, Santa Barbara, the American Riviera is an American city with a charm all its own. A trip to this part of the US will quickly show you the magic this city has, making it a must-see destination for travelers all over the world.

Four Seasons exterior gardens. Photo by Peter Vitale
Four Seasons exterior gardens. Photo by Peter Vitale

For your stay, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. A luxurious property spread over 22 acres, this resort is directly located on the beach, with direct access to the ocean day and night. From private bungalows and terraces, you can admire views of the Pacific Ocean and the nearby Channel Islands. Considering you are staying in the city’s only AAA Five Diamond Resort, rest assured the amenities here are above par. Whether you choose to enjoy the spa and tennis courts or laze by the pool, you cannot go wrong with your options at this gorgeous property.

Courthouse Mural Room. Photo by Mark Weber
Courthouse Mural Room. Photo by Mark Weber

Santa Barbara is just the right size for a weekend to weeklong stay in the city and has enough to do but not too much that you feel overwhelmed. History and design aficionados will enjoy a visit to the County Courthouse  – the tile work, light fixtures, high arches, decorated doors and other historic elements will keep you busy for hours and a trip to the top of the bell tower offers the best views of the city.

Horseback Riding on the Beach. Photo by Jay Sinclair
Horseback Riding on the Beach. Photo by Jay Sinclair

If high-end sporting activities are your cup of tea, Santa Barbara is your playground. Sail out into the horizon on sailboats or opt for a whale watching expedition. Golfers will find the courses here a joy and horseback riding is an indulgence you can look forward to. Better yet, time your visit for a polo match to experience the camaraderie and competition of the game.

BibiJi Oysters. Photo by Collin Dewell, Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara
BibiJi Oysters. Photo by Collin Dewell, Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

When all that activity brings on the hunger pangs, you will be glad to know the American Riviera’s proximity to the water translates to fresh seafood and world-class chefs offering award-winning dishes and desserts. Consider a meal at Finch&Fork, the restaurant on property at the Kimpton Canary Hotel, which offers classic American fare with the chef’s special touch. For the more adventurous eaters, a visit to BibiJi is a must. Working local seafood and produce into traditional Indian dishes is a staple at this unique restaurant. The thali, which is an assortment of the chef’s specialties, is quite the affair – allow a few hours to fully take in the spices. Do not leave without a taste of the sea urchin biryani!

SBFunk Zone Wine Tasting. Photo by Andreas Hub, Courtesy of Visit California.
Funk Zone Wine Tasting. Photo by Andreas Hub, Courtesy of Visit California

Santa Barbara is also surrounded by wineries that offer several full-day winery tours. We recommend visiting the tasting rooms that most wineries have in the downtown area. The Funk Zone closer to the wharf has a series of wine tasting venues to choose from as does the Paseo Nuevo shopping center area. Definitely stop by Happy Canyon Vineyard for their private polo themed lounge and Grassini Family Vineyards for their comfy chic atmosphere as well. Salud! 

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