Santa Barbara, Naturally

Traveling alone has never bothered me, and I often seek out the opportunity to wander through cities almost anywhere in the world. Coastal towns like Southern California’s Santa Barbara are more family and couple oriented, so on this visit I was more comfortable gravitating to the many stunning areas of natural beauty that surround the city.

Traveling Solo in Santa Barbara:

Jaw dropping views: While visiting a city courthouse doesn’t seem like the most exciting thing to do on vacation, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is an exception. Completed in 1929, its Spanish Moor designed complex is beautiful in of itself, and it offers the most jaw dropping views of the city, mountains and sea from the top of  its 85 foot “El Mirador”clock tower.

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A wealth of natural beauty: Climb into your car and head for the Pacific Coast Highway. Head south on the iconic 101 and take 150 towards Ojai Valley which is known for its hippy vibe, or drive north to the exit for Calif. 1 toward Lompac and experience the stunning Valley of Flowers, a nickname for an area known for producing most of the world’s flower seeds.  For a wonderfully detailed overview of the Santa Barbara area, along with suggestions for travel routes and destinations, you might enjoy reading Road Trip, researched by National Geographic writers.

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You can also simply drive the stunning Pacific Coast Highway for as long as you can stand being alone with yourself in the car, and don’t forget to explore the scenic view turn-offs and prepare to be awed. Below: Vista Point just north of Santa Barbara

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The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden deserves its own post, and I look forward to researching and writing one someday soon. Founded in 1926,  the SBBG’s mission is to display native California plants in natural settings. Highlights include a lovely redwood forest, a dam constructed in 1806 by Native Americans, as well as almost 6 miles of hiking trails. It is one of the prettiest gardens I have ever explored, and my visit was one of the most pleasant mornings I’ve spent anywhere, and if I were a local Santa Barbaran, I’d be a member.

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A trip to any coastal town requires a sunset at a favorite beach, so I chose Hendry’s on a busy Saturday evening. I love this photograph because it timeless. It captures a scene that is reminiscent of the 1900s, as well as the here and now, or maybe twenty years in the future. Our pull towards the sea is universal, and I often wonder as we stand there entranced looking far beyond the last breaker, if we’re all waiting for a some signal from the great mother ship.

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Like most places I’ve visited for the first (second, third…) time I felt as though I’d only scratched the surface of Santa Barbara. Next time I (we) go however, it will better planned with a more complete list of things to do. I need to check out the booming arts district and the wine tasting bars representing various local vineyards. And yes, I’ll make sure my husband double checks his calendar and see how he likes this hotel, The San Ysdiro Ranch, which looks to me like the perfect combination of peaceful retreat and vacation resort. While we’re on the subject of fabulous Southern California Beach towns, have you checked out Grace and Frankie on Netflix? Its kind of fun watching this older cast romp around their ageless life issues, and the setting is fabulous. The house where it’s filmed is as big of a star as the cast, and found some fun information on this interesting blog “Hooked on Houses.” Until next time…

Another day, another vista.
Another day, another vista.

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