Santa Barbara is a different world and provided the perfect backdrop for me to refresh and rejuvenate while having several new experiences. It is an honor to share with you what I discovered.
This experience was a hosted weekend, but I had plenty of time to explore independently. My only regret was that I wasn’t able to stay longer.
1. Hideaway Santa Barbara
Luxury Boutique Hotel Near State Street
The Hideaway Santa Barbara boutique hotel has eight units. Amenities include a king-sized bed with luxurious linens, free Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, a flat-screen TV, and a gas fireplace strategically placed at the end of the bed. Frankly, one would be hard-pressed to find a more accommodating space for a pampered weekend.
This Kirkwood Collection Boutique Hotel rightly lives up to its name as a luxury boutique hotel. Formerly a home, it has ingeniously been transformed into a place where one has privacy and quiet in the middle of a California coastal city. Did I mention that I had a patio with two chairs and a table? The perfect spot to enjoy my morning coffee as the new day awakens.
Check-in was a breeze in the coastal-type décor registration room. I say room for it was complete with sofas, a table, and flowers, providing the sense of “come and stay a while” as you walked through the doors. Nearby on a sidebar, coffee and fresh lemon water were ready for present and arriving guests.
When you approach the Hideaway, you will quickly see parking on residential streets is not readily available. Thus, when you are shown your covered parking spot steps away from your room, you marvel at the thought that there will be no looking for space upon a return from an evening outing.
With all these great attributes, one more thing is sure to get your day started on the right foot. Breakfast is served daily and each day the entrée of the day is posted. For example, one day, a breakfast burrito was on the menu. I asked for the stuffing and had more than enough to satisfy my morning hunger. The following morning, pancakes with a face made of blueberries and a banana were set in front of me while I sat in the light-flooded solarium. Okay, I am a kid at heart, and I love this small detail. By the way, I was also served an egg with the pancakes.
2. Nu Image Nails And Day Spa
A Pedicure On State Street In Downtown Santa Barbara
I had been on a recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky, and my feet were craving attention. The weather turned warm and it was apparent my toes were not in the condition to be revealed to unsuspecting people communicating with me. Also, scheduling a pedicure with a yacht cruise looming later that evening seemed appropriate.
The registration desk person at the hotel was a great help. She said, “Trust me, I’ve tried several of them. I recommend Nu Image Nails & Day Spa.” With an appointment made and address in hand, I headed downtown and found one of the large municipal parking lots.
I walked into a spacious, bright place with many stations for pedicures and manicures. The energy felt great and I was immediately greeted by the delightful woman who genuinely seemed interested in me as a person. She understood my big toe issue. Okay, more information than you probably want, but I felt it is important to share how well she listened to ensure the pedicure was first-rate in every way.
3. Stearns Wharf
Stearns Wharf is California’s oldest working wooden pier, built in 1872. John Peck Stearns had it constructed to facilitate the transfer of people and cargo when the tide was low. It has gone through many storms and even a fire but remains a significant attraction for the city of Santa Barbara.
I drove out on the wharf and easily found parking. I understand sometimes, you must drive around a bit to find a place, but people are constantly coming and going to explore the 17 businesses that have been fortunate to call it their permanent home. Another favorite pastime is watching sea life frolicking off the wharf’s edge.
Santa Barbara Shellfish Company
I found myself standing in front of the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. I’d be second on the waiting list. How could I pass up coconut shrimp with a cold beer on this beautiful sunny fall day by the Pacific Ocean? The view was stunning, with the sun glistening on the water. The shrimp was superb.
Deep Sea Wine Tasting Room
After a great lunch, I looked up and saw a sign for the Deep Sea Wine Tasting Room. It reminded me that I was in the middle of wine country. I felt the need to do some wine tasting since vineyards surround the city. I ascended the steps and marveled at the bird’s eye view that enabled me to see for miles across the ocean. What a delightful place to stop and refresh. I was impressed that they have instituted a membership for locals encouraging them to stop in for a glass of wine any time the urge comes to stop and relax.
4. Celebration Cruises
Marvel At The Santa Barbara Shoreline
How can you not feel pampered while sitting in the VIP section of a 79-foot yacht, operated by Celebration Cruises, traversing the shore’s edge at sunset? Oh, I forgot to mention soft music playing softly and being served champagne.
With capable staff, the captain ensured we were in the perfect location to see the sunset over the ocean. As a bonus, I engaged Kelly, a staff member, in a conversation and learned her real career is as a chef on luxury yachts.
Pro Tip: The entire yacht can be rented. For public cruises, the cost is $45 per person. However, for $55, I would spring for the Upper Deck.
5. Salt Cave Santa Barbara
The Perfect Place to Slow Down
As I descended the stairs in downtown Santa Barbara, I was filled with anticipation. Ever since I heard about it, I’ve wanted to experience a salt cave. Now was the time. I checked in and was escorted into the room. The salt particle squished between my toes as I headed to one of the chairs. I was delighted to discover that they reclined. Around me were thousands of pounds of Himalayan salt, even on the ceiling. The doors were closed, and for 45 minutes, soft music played with nary another sound.
I came out relaxed; if the science is correct, my body was all the better for taking this pampered time out. My only regret is that I wish there was one closer to Palm Springs.
6. Opal Restaurant And Bar
European Flair And Delicious Desserts
With a crispness in the air, I headed to Opal Restaurant and Bar to meet a colleague. We were graciously escorted to our table. My first impression was that I was in a European restaurant. The shrimp wrapped in shredded phyllo wrap was once served to Julie Childs. Yes, it lived up to the hype. When sea bass was mentioned as the special of the day, there was no need to look further on the menu. It arrived hot, flaky, and oh-so-savory. The finale was a new dessert item, a lemon bar with a delicate cream topping, adding tartness for the perfect ending to an outstanding meal.
Santa Barbara is a beautiful city that seduces you quietly with its charm and array of activities that make you put it on your list to return to. After savoring my delicious dinner, I returned to the Hideaway Santa Barbara, changed into my jammies, and pulled up the luxurious linens. The verdict was in — The Opal Restaurant dining experience was the perfect way to end a pampered weekend in this California Central Coastal city.
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