When I decided to move to Santa Barbara for school, I never imagined that I would fall in love with this city as much as I have. Let alone, fall in love with my fiancé Lupo and officially live here after graduation with a career.
Many people seem to think of Santa Barbara as a vacation retreat, other think of it as a party town. Although, I’ve enjoyed both scenes, there’s more to those reasons to why I call it home. Many people call their hometown, the place they grew up but I feel like I did the majority of growing up in Santa Barbara during my 5 years here. It’s were I matured into an independent and (somewhat) responsible adult, where I learned some of life’s hardest lessons, where I met lifelong friends who I now consider family and most importantly where I found myself.
But that’s not the point of this post. I get several messages from friends who come to visit that ask me for fun things to do in Santa Barbara and Lupo and I have discovered the inside and outskirt of every little nook in this beautiful city, so I decided to put some of my favorite little spots into a post to share with all of ya’ll. I hope you enjoy it!
Note: Not all of these places are trendy or “insta-worthy” but they’re delicious while others are more aesthetically pleasing than delicious and I’ve made sure to note that so choose wisely!
Scarlett Begonia – YUM. It’s trendy and delicious. Has so many options for everyone. and it’s all local and organic so what’s not to love??
Finch & Fork – Best deviled eggs ever. Trust me. They also have such great cocktail options. Try Barbie’s Bubble bomb and thank me later.
Jeannine’s – This is a restaurant AND bakery so you know you can’t go wrong. There are 3, going on 4 in Santa Barbara so they obviously get plenty of business. I’m a fan of their huevos rancheros and french toast but you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu! Don’t forget to treat yourself with slice of their strawberry shortcake.
Boathouse – So this place gets pretty packed so arrive early! But the view on the beach is definitely worth the wait. If you don’t make it for brunch, check out their Happy hour Thurs-Sun, 3-6 or Fri after 8!
Backyard Bowls or Blenders – If you’re not a big breakfast person and just want a quick bite, definitely check out Backyard Bowls or Blenders for an Acai bowl or smoothie!
Jack’s Bagels – If you’re a fan of bagels this little Bistro is a hidden gem in Santa Barbara. From freshly baked bagels, to breakfast burritos. My favorite is the State Street with Avocado!
Caeser’s Mexican Food – Okay now if you want the best Aguachiles and best Michelada you’ve ever tried, you need to hit this spot up. Keep in mind I’ve tried just about every seafood and Michi in SB and none of them are quite up to par.
South Coast Deli – If you’re craving a sandwich, you can’t go wrong with South Coast Deli! My favorite is the buffalo sandwich or the club.
Lily’s – Quite possibly the best tacos in Santa Barbara. I love their adobada and tripas but there’s even a vegetarian tacos if you have dietary restrictions.
Mony’s Tacos – If Lily’s doesn’t have the best Tacos, then Mony’s definitely does! They have so many different types of meat, all the salsas and it’s located in the funk zone so you can consider them drunchies after a day of drinking!
Public Market – Can’t decide what to eat? Check out Santa Barbara’s Public Market. This little market is a little underrated but it has a little bit of everything!
Corazon Cocina – In the public market you have this gem that has a new take on tacos and tostadas. Like ceviche with watermelon or aguachiles with hibiscus. All very tropical, all so delicious. A bit on the pricier end but it’s a pretty filling portion.
Empty Bowl – I think this place made me fall in love with Thai food. It’s a very small gourmet noodle bar that’s also located inside of the Public Market. Literally can’t go wrong with any of the options on menu.
La Cocina – This place is SO aesthetically pleasing. So def IG worthy if that’s what you’re looking for. They also have the cutest back patio. I come here more for the look of it than the food, to be completely honest, Happy hour is EVERYDAY (I know) from 4-7. I love to order their Rosemary Garlic Fries with Lemon Aioli.
Lure Fish House – The oysters. Enough said. But no really, they have an oyster bar with some of THEE BEST oysters. So if you’re a fan of fresh seafood like myself, you’ll enjoy this one.
Finney’s Crafthouse – If you want something a little more laid back with like sports bar vibes/apps, Finney’s will be something you can enjoy and it’s right by the Santa Barbara pier and shopping so you can walk around and burn those calories after.
SB Wine Therapy – I’ve actually never been here. (Shocking, I know). but people swear by it. So check it out and let me know how it is. They also have frosé so that’s a plus.
Deep Sea Tasting Room – This is located on the wharf and get 360 views of stunning Santa Barbara. It’s definitely a wine tasting experience like no other.
Satellite – A natural focused, farm to table wine bar so if you like dry, delicious wine, then this is the place! They also make a tasty Spritz and you know I’ll pretty much hype up any place that has Spritz on their menu. They also have vegetarian food options to enjoy.
Loquita – I’ve actually only ever been here for drinks and they are some of the best craft cocktails I’ve had. This Spanish tapas style restaurant has the best ambiance. It’s close to the beach and the funk zone so location is ideal.
Sama Sama – OMG. Best Asian Fusion food ever. So we had our engagement party here and everyone was raving about the food. Pretty much everything on this menu is to die for. Def don’t leave without trying the wings.
Zaytoon – I love going her with a big group of friends and sharing plates in their outdoor patio around the fire. Best, possibly the only, Arab food in town with fresh ingredients sourced from the local farmer’s market. I can eat they Tzatziki all day, every day.
Bettina – A little small, cozy restaurant in Montecito with the best pizza in town. Also, trust me on this one, get their Olive Cake for dessert.
Malibu Farm – If you’re a fan of the Malibu Farm in Malibu, you’ll love this one! It’s a little more upscale but oh so trendy. Velvet chair dreams and it’s located at one of my favorite hotels that I’ll talk about a little more toward the end, The Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel.
Milk & Honey – Now, this is Lupo’s and I favorite date night spot. THE PASSION FRUIT MOJITO IS JUST WOW. They have the tastiest Tapas that will have you ordering everything from the menu. My favorite are the prosciutto bundles with goat cheese. My mouth is literally watering as a type this.
Oku: Wagyu Steak, Japanese Sushi, Chinese Dumplings, Thai Noodles and fresh local seafood. Basically all of your favorite Asian dishes in one spot plus craft cocktails on the beach side. What’s NOT to love?
For a night cap:
Seven Bar and Kitchen – Cute little artsy bar that’s very intimate, yet casual. With some of the tastiest craft cocktails and sometimes live music.
Test Pilot – A cute little Tiki Bar with some of the best drinks and a pretty swing that makes for a great picture for Instagram.
Good Lion – My go to bar. It’s distant enough from all the craziness of downtown but also close enough to Sama Sama that you can order food from there to eat at the bar. They usually have a live band and the vibes in there are so great.
Shaker Mill – This new little Cuban bar just opened up and it’s the biggest hit in town. Their rum drinks are so yummy! And they also have a cuban restaurant connected to it so you can have the best of both worlds.
Llama Dog/The Nook – This place is a popular spot in the Funk Zone (a little are in SB that has a lot of bars, breweries & wineries). They have some of the best beer on tap and you can even buy bottled beer front their walk in fridge and there’s Booch Craft! + they have food. The Nook is this small little place inside of Llama Dog and has the best Lobster Mac & Cheese and so many other yummy drunchie bites!
Telegraph Brewery – Best sour beer ever
McConnell’s – Best Ice cream ever. Get Churros con Leche and chocolate covered strawberries. SO DAMN GOOD.
Late night bite:
Blue Owl – Literally the only thing in Santa Barbara that’s a I know that stays open past midnight. 2:30 AM to be exact. Because who doesn’t want fried rice and a delicious Bahn Mi as a midnight snack?
Dave’s Dogs – Ever tried Hot Cheetos and Cream Cheese on your hot dog? What about a pizza dog? A Mac N Cheese dog! Well now you can. And you won’t regret it. Dave’s dogs is where it’s at. So many options to choose from!
IG worthy spaces:
Kimpton Goodland Hotel – One of my favorite hotels in Santa Barbara. Every single little corner has the cutest boho vibes, including their restaurant, Outpost made up of decor dreams.
Rosewood Miramar Beach – I previously mentioned Malibu Farm being on the property but they also have a cute little speakeasy, bar by the ocean and another luxury restaurant. Pro tip: check out their bathroom, you won’t be disappointed.
Alice Keck Park – Botanical Garden dreams. Whether it’s for a picnic or a literal walk in the park. This park takes the cake for the most serene one yet.
Rose Garden – Another perfect little park across the Santa Barbara Mission where you get to sit in the midst of Rose hedges and shrubs. The neighborhood around this park is also super cute and perfect for shooting you OOTD if that’s what you’re into.
Butterfly Beach – One of my favorite beaches in Santa Barbara. It’s a lot of people’s favorite so expect it to be a little packed on warmer seasons but it’s surrounded by so much beauty. I highly encourage taking a walk around or just lounging out on a sunny day.
Funkzone – As mentioned earlier, most bars, wineries, breweries will be in this little area of Santa Barbara. Not only is it a really fun place to spend your day but you’ll also find the cutest corners that are definitely Instagram worthy.
Courthouse – This is one of the most prettiest courthouses ever and oh so insta-worthy. It’s Spanish architecture with beautiful arches, murals and a sunken garden. I definitely recommended checking it out!