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First Visit to Santa Barbara

Adelaide, Australia
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195 posts
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First Visit to Santa Barbara

Hi all, my hubby and I will be making our first visit to Santa Barbara in late Sept.

We will be arriving via Amtrak and picking up a hire car around midday, this will also be our first experience with left hand driving!

Do you have any ideas on what would be a nice drive or any other suggestions for us aussies just for the afternoon?

We will be in Santa Barbara briefly then driving to San Luis Obispo and then to Hearst Castle and driving back to Santa Barbara for a few days to explore some more.

thanks kindly

Arizona
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for Scottsdale
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1. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

Stearns Wharf and the Old Santa Barbara Mission come to mind if you only have an afternoon...have lunch at the wharf out over the ocean, walk out to the end for a great view of the shoreline. The Mission is classic California history.

http://santabarbaramission.org/

santabarbaraca.gov/Visitor/…Stearns_Wharf.htm

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

thanks for your reply AZFan, they are both on my list of things to see.

Is there anywhere within a hour that we can drive to that is worth a visit?

Santa Barbara...
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3. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

I like the drive up the 154 to some of the lookouts/vistas in the mountains above Santa Barbara. the view of Santa Barbara, the channel and the islands beyond always takes my breath away and I've lived here for 15 years.

Santa Barbara, CA
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for Santa Barbara, Channel Islands National Park
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4. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

You might head up to Refugio State Beach - just north of Santa Barbara. Really beautiful drive up the coast and then a lovely beach to spend the day at. Bring a lunch or snacks -- across the way you can get food at El Capitan Resort. They have bbqs open to the public on Saturday evenings with live music.

Another suggestion would be to head up the 154 like thekld suggested and visit Cold Springs Tavern. This is an historic stage coach stop and now a restaurant and tavern. It is a beautiful stop. Have fun.

Adelaide, Australia
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5. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

Thanks for your suggestions!

We cannot wait to come and visit this part of California!

Santa Barbara...
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6. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

You need to make sure to head to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Sunken Gardens. The courthouse is a very historic building and is still a functioning courthouse.

Most importantly, the courthouse has a clock tower observation deck with a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. There is no cost to go up the elevator to the top.

The Courthouse & the Mission are the two must see things that should be on every visitor's list!

Adelaide, Australia
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7. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

thanks love2travelcheap, the courthouse and sunken gardens and the mission is definitely on our list of "must see".

is the Botanic gardens or lotus land also worthwhile visiting?

Santa Barbara
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8. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

I have never been to Lotus Land but I've been wanting to go for years.... I haven't been to the Botanic Gardens in probably 20 years but I would probably pick Lotus Land over the Botanic Gardens. Maybe some other people can comment for you.

Santa Barbara, CA
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9. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

Lotus Land is lovely and worth the visit. The Botanic Gardens are very nice and if you have children that is a great option (no kids allowed in lotus land) - there are lots of paths to stroll and areas to explore.

Redlands, California
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10. Re: First Visit to Santa Barbara

Lotusland is fascinating but it may be a good idea to call ahead, as the tours are limited. Its really worthwhile, though. I also second the courthouse.

I hesitate to recommend it because I think its kind of cheesy, but if you want to stay on major roads to start with you could drive up to Solvang. When you turn inland inland I think its very pretty, sort of an "Old California" landscape.