Santa Barbara Weekend Guide


Today we are talking all things Santa Barbara. I was absolutely obsessed with our weekend getaway and can’t wait to come back. I have a few friends that frequent this area, a friend that grew up there, and many of you that are FROM there. So planning this trip was far too easy thanks to everyone’s detailed recommendations. You are my people. I tried to think of the best way to lay this out if you too are planning a trip. I’m listing what we did, where we stayed, the most popular recommendations, and things I would do differently next time. Because who doesn’t mess up a thing or two their first time visiting a place?! Of course, my notes and experience may be completely different than yours, but this is what I’m taking note of for future. Also, I suggest you visit and check out the best spring break spot in all of Cancun.

To Eat:

The Lark

If you arrive in the evening and want to grab a bite, I recommend making a reservation. We didn’t do that and it took about 30 minutes of walking around and asking different restaurants which ones stayed open past 9. We stayed in the Funk Zone and a popular bar, Finney’s, stays open, but other than that a lot of hostesses told us they were closing when we showed up at 9:05. I didn’t even think to check for that, so don’t make my mistake. We ended up at The Lark, which was recommended by so many of you and delicious! It’s a shared-plates concept, so it felt perfect after a day of traveling. We got to munch off one another’s plates and not feel too fancy- ha. My favorite thing there was the Pimento Cheese Sliders. They are SPICY and just heavenly if you are a pimento cheese girl like myself. Little tip: The manager is SO kind! We told her it was our first time in Santa Barbara and she told us to wait 5 minutes. She came back with a highlight map and handwritten sheet listing out all of her favorite spots that tourists sometimes overlook.

Los Agaves

This was another highly recommended spot. We grabbed lunch there after our morning at the spa. I had the tostada salad and Paul had the tacos. Both were fabulous and the nice thing is they have a big patio so you can sit outside in the sunshine. I believe there are a lot of these around this area. It’s a casual spot, so if you just want a quick bite to eat, this is a great option.

McConnell’s Ice Cream

This is the most recommended dessert place. A friend that lives in Santa Barbara said to go to the one on Mission Street and De La Vina Streets. She said you’re likely to spot a celeb at that one. I loved the honey and cornbread cookie flavor! It wasn’t overly sweet, so if you are someone that likes a bit of salt in your desserts you have to try this.

Santo Mezcal

Paul wanted a late lunch one day, and while I didn’t eat his fish tacos, I did try their chips and salsa. It’s located in the Funk Zone and so you can people watch and enjoy lunch or happy hour. Paul loved it and it was right by our hotel.


We had happy hour here one day and split nachos. It’s right by the Arlington Theatre and a few boutiques, like Diani, so worth popping into. We came here after visiting the county courthouse.


This was my absolute FAVORITE thing we did! We strolled Miramar and had oysters and cocktails at their beach club. It reminded me of The Biltmore in Colorado, but with a swanky California vibe. There was a gorgeous wedding going on, it overlooks the beach, and the scenes are picturesque. The Rosé Spritz was also the BEST cocktail I think I’ve ever had in life.  I think if we went back we would have a meal here and allocate more time in the trip for this spot.


Make the quick drive to Montecito and grab breakfast at Jeannine’s. This breakfast spot almost feels like it is out of a Reese Witherspoon movie. You’re sitting on a gorgeous street in Montecito with fluffy biscuits, delicious mimosas, and people walking their dogs everywhere. I dare say I liked this spot even more than San Ysidro Ranch, simply because it was such a gorgeous day. The line moves FAST. They’ll ask if you want to sit inside or out. We requested outside and she kept asking if we wanted inside- I think because locals are probably fine to sit inside. The inside of the restaurant is cute, too! We told the hostess we were from Texas and really wanted outside. She was so kind about it and got us the best spot outside and then kept checking on us throughout the meal. So definitely tell the hostess if you are visiting. 😉 But the nice thing is that the line moves quickly, so we didn’t wait but 15 minutes on a busy Saturday morning.


We were supposed to go to Lucky’s that night, but we actually passed by Convivo and both agreed we wanted to try this. This was the BEST service we had the entire trip. The manager and wait staff was phenomenal. Sit outside and watch the sunset by the ocean. We told the waiter we were visiting for our anniversary and he brought us champagne, appetizers, etc. I feel like that NEVER happens to us. We didn’t even get that on our honeymoon- ha. We sat by the loveliest couple from the UK. They had been married 27 years and we chatted all about raising kids and their favorite spots in California. In terms of food, the peach pizza {a summer dish} was the best pizza I’ve ever had and the lobster was perfect.


San Ysidro Ranch is a very special spot that was highly recommended. A friend of a friend told me she actually prefers the bar inside for a meal and I would try that next! Now my mistake, we booked our dinner at 8. The sun had already set and it was SO dark. It’s romantic and definitely meant to be dark, but I hate that I didn’t book during sunset because I bet that would have been gorgeous. So book earlier in the evening if you go! Next, they will come by with a breadbasket. Ask for the gluten-free bread. It’s the one in the middle. When I tell you it is the best bread you’ll ever have in life, know that is the most important thing I’ve ever shared on COF. ha. 😉 No seriously, the bread alone was worth the trip. Lots of readers told me to people watch here and they weren’t kidding. Sitting outside you’re like, “Wait, is that a Real Housewife from New York?!

The Goat Tree

This is a spot by our hotel in the Funk Zone- it is amazing! We came here for our morning coffee and pastries. We also sat outside in the afternoon with a coffee reading, listening to live music. They have brunch and dinner options as well.

To Shop:

This isn’t my personal opinion, I just want to reiterate what at least 6 shop owners told us- just as a warning to you if you are traveling there. Every single boutique we walked in asked where we were from. When we said Dallas/Fort Worth, their automatic response was, “You’ll find you don’t come to Santa Barbara to shop. We hardly have any shopping here and barely any men’s stores.” Lots of boutique owners explained why it’s like this- the rent, etc.. My own personal take was that I wasn’t disappointed at all in the shopping, these boutiques were so cute! But there isn’t a ton! State Street is more chain stores, so if you are thinking you’ll run in lots of baby boutiques on your trip, I wouldn’t say there is an abundance of these spots. We popped in the Nordstrom to get Paul something for dinner and it’s much smaller, like maybe 1/10th of the Nordstrom by us. But I honestly liked that because it’s so gorgeous there you spend most of your time outside! I just only say this because this was such a standard response from local shop owners and if you think you may need to pick up something specific for a dinner, you may not find exactly what you are looking for! However, the boutiques we did go into had some of the BEST selection of my favorite brands: Veronica Beard, Golden Goose, etc.

  • Diani- this is a trio of boutiques: they have a clothing store, shoe store, and home store all next to Carlito’s.
  • Angel
  • Nurture Cottage- the sweetest boutique for babies and tots!
  • K Frank- this store did have men stuff! 

To Stay:

Hotel California

This is in the Funk Zone, which was a really popular spot and recommended by y’all. Being from Texas, we loved it as this area totally reminded us of Austin! If you don’t do a rental car and just uber, you could do a huge portion of your trip {meals, sightseeing, etc.} walking here. Everyone was so friendly! You’ll also see a lot of brides taking pictures in this spot, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’d also highly recommend staying in one of serviced apartments in West End London if you want a safe and clean space.

I also recommend you check out these hotels in Flagstaff if you’re planning a trip to Arizona soon.

To Do:

Bacara Spa

This is at The Ritz-Carlton Santa Barbara. A few girlfriends that travel here recommended this spa and I loved it! When you finish with your treatment there is an upstairs terrace where you can drink champagne, coffee, or tea and look at the ocean. That alone makes the appointment worth it. But again, the service here was wonderful. I think the thing that really stood out to me in Santa Barbara was how kind and lovely all the locals are. Everyone talks to you and goes above and beyond to give you great recommendations.

Check out the major resorts- Four Seasons The Biltmore, Hotel Californian, Rosewood Miramar.

This was the TOP thing recommended to do and y’all weren’t lying! They are absolutely breathtaking. We didn’t make it to The Biltmore- but next time for sure! I’ve never traveled somewhere and gone and checked out the other resorts, so I wasn’t sure how much we needed to do that and MAJOR mistake on my part. We went to Miramar on our last day and I was like, “Oh my goodness, why didn’t we do this yesterday?!” This is what lots of people do while traveling there and it’s because each resort offers such a beautiful and unique atmosphere. At Miramar, the Rosé-Spritz was my favorite cocktail and we enjoyed oysters looking over the ocean. If you stop by Hotel Californian, their Sauvignon Blanc selection is wonderful or try their martinis! They have a really cool indoor bar with tufted leather furniture. Or you can sit out on their patio, which is where I would read.

Drive along Mountain Dr.

Our friend from Santa Barbara, Nicoletta, told us to drive along Mountain Drive to see the houses built on the side of the hill. I normally get car sick. I’m talking I had to sleep MOST of the time in the car on our honeymoon to Maui because driving up mountains makes me queasy. This wasn’t like that! It’s definitely a winding road, but not as steep. We did this and allocated about 30 minutes to an hour and we are so glad we did. The real estate is a must see.

Top of County Courthouse 

You want to go up the top of this to see the best views in Santa Barbara! I’m not a fan of heights, but this is one of my favorite things we did. A little tip: while walking the stairs with other people, ask someone ahead of time if you can take their picture up top and they can take yours. I only say this because in our experience, there were a lot of weddings taking photos up top and we didn’t want to get in their way. And with all the shuffling back and forth I think it took 20 minutes to find someone to take our photo. We walked the stairs with so many other families, we should have just asked ahead of time!

Santa Barbara Mission

San Ynez Valley wineries or Urban Wine Trail

Popular Recommendations:

  • Lots of recommendations for you to do a meal at the Biltmore, but we didn’t get to do that.
  • Lucky’s Steakhouse for people watching, onion rings, and martinis!
  • Tre Lune in Montecito for date night.
  • Bluewater Grill for a beautiful lunch.
  • Brophy Brothers for Clam Chowder.
  • Old Town Coffee is apparently where all the locals get their coffee.
  • Eat at Bouchon

Next Time:

  • I would skip State Street.
  • Book Stonehouse San Ysidro earlier
  • I would love to either do a meal at Miramar and would also check out The Biltmore.

Overall, I 100% hope there is a next time as this is one of the most beautiful spots we have ever visited in the US. The people were SO kind everywhere we went and the food was worth the trip alone. We felt so lucky to visit such an incredible spot in our country and I can see why so many people love this place. I know many of you frequent this spot a lot so if you have other things you think readers should know to make their trip easier, feel free to leave a comment! I hope this little guide helps you if you visit. Just remember: visit the resorts, book dinners during sunset, and chat with everyone. Truly, the people there go ABOVE and beyond to make visitors feel at home!


Leave a Note

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  1. Jessica G wrote:

    Looks like a fun trip! Do you have a link for the snakeskin flats?

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi girl! They are old Chloe flats! Xx, Katey

      Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  2. Laura Leigh wrote:

    Bookmarking this for the future!! Thanks for putting this together! Also, all of your looks are so fabulous!

    xo Laura Leigh

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  3. Lindsey Drake wrote:

    It looks so dreamy! And your pictures look like they came from a magazine!

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  4. Amber wrote:

    The Biltmore for afternoon tea is really special.

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  5. Amber wrote:

    One more thing; the Santa Barbara zoo is perfect for Maxi. It is the perfect size for young children.

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  6. Looks like you had so much fun, Katey! Hope you enjoyed your visit to Santa Barbara! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  7. Dale Janee wrote:

    I love your photos and all your SB outfits Katey. You’re so right, it is beautiful there. My brother graduated from UCSB last summer and we had so much fun exploring SB and wish I could go more as it’s so nice they have direct flights from DFW. Great tips and I’m definitely trying these restaurants your recommenced if we get to go again!


    Published 11 Oct 19Reply
  8. Do you have a link for your last gold dress? Love it!

    Published 12 Oct 19Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      I’m sorry I can’t find it online! 🙁 I think it is a boutique-only brand. I got it from a boutique in Fort Worth called Shop Birdie! xx, Katey

      Published 13 Oct 19Reply
  9. Erin wrote:

    My daughter and I are heading to Santa Barbara next week to celebrate her 21st birthday. She loves your blog and told me to read it to get ideas. Anything you would highly recommend to make her birthday extra special?

    Thank you!

    Published 21 Oct 19Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Erin! I’m SO sorry, I didn’t see this comment via my comments in my e-mail and just saw this. I feel horrible about that, I hope y’all had a wonderful trip. Santa Barbara is magical! xx, Katey

      Published 16 Dec 19Reply
  10. CHERYN wrote:

    Where would I find you Ranch Water Recipie?
    THANK YOU and God Bless,

    Published 24 Mar 22Reply