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.

86 Comments

  1. Lovely photos, Elisa. Makes me appreciate Santa Barbara rather than mourning how crowded it has become. And yes, I Have done that drive on said Friday out of LA. After not having taken that particular journey in over 40 years. Now THAT was an out of body experience I never care to repeat. I’m glad you love Southern California, I truly am. It needs people to recognize its beauty. For so much is changed since the days of my youth there. I can hardly bear to go back after 45 years away. Aloha, dear. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny, I’m a relative newcomer to Southern California, but I also mourn the good old days even though I never experienced them personally. I can only imagine the perfection that was California, and for some reason often think of the original Native Americans and the pristine beauty that surrounded them. Thank you, as always for your thoughts, Bela.

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      1. Ahhhh … the Chumash! When I was eighteen, I was walking the beach in Goleta with the husband of a friend. Suddenly I swooped down and picked up what looked like a massive arrowhead, which I treasure to this day. Turns out it was some kind of a digging tool, far as we can tell. And yes, I presumed you were a newcomer (aren’t you from the South originally?), and thus your fresh eyes for that area. Blessings to you!

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  2. Not so bad to have time to explore on your own, and probably had more fun. The one thing I like about SB is that it’s more laid back than LA, less harried. LA is always go, go, go. But, my last time in SB was before Deborah was born – so, it’s been awhile. And, yes, those freeways require some pre-planning with a proper paper map to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. It would have been embarrassing if you ended up in LV instead, LOL.

    Keep an eye on your inbox. I’ll be sending you an email on the pending trip to SoCal.

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    1. On the bright side, the bumper to bumper traffic makes it much less likely to get lost. It’s hard to miss your exit when you’re going 3 miles an hour…unless you’re sandwiched 4 lanes over on the wrong side! 🙂

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  3. I just love that mist swirling over the water. 🙂 And the view from the roof with the twinkling bay in the background. Water a common denominator, just for a change 🙂 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Elisa. Wishing you a happy Summer!

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  4. Elisa, when you travel alone, benefits include that you get to do exactly what you want to do. Your adventure is recreated in your images that tell your story of that meandering. The colors are striking and show the sun’s ability to give more meaning to an already gorgeous coastline.

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    1. Hi Sally, once again you’ve left an insightful comment that has me revisiting my photographs. I always enjoy you thoughts, and am so happy you stopped by. I hope you enjoy what is left of the week.

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  5. God creates beautiful landscapes and then sends the sun to kiss them. You captured the shine and shading perfectly. As a Midwesterner, I don’t have a natural magnetic ocean pull but my 4 years of living near Monterey years ago gave me a past experience I wanted to relive. Your wide vocabulary matches hut keen vision for photography making the words and pictures wonderfully matched.

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    1. Thank you so much. I often look at my photographs again after I read my comments, because others look at them more objectively and respond differently than I do sometimes. Thank you for your lovely thoughts.

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  6. (Note to self – when trying to retype the word “your” to replace “hut”, be careful not to hit reply by mistake.). Wanted to add that I find something peacefully powerful about being alone with God and His creation. If you do get to Monterey, try to visit the aquarium.

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  7. Hi Elisa- We are happy you enjoyed your visit to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden! It certainly is a great place to be a member, not only for beautiful peaceful walks, but also to see how beautifully you can garden at home with water wise native plants. Visitors can see our Home Garden and buy native plants at the Nursery. I’ll be sharing your blog on our Facebook page this weekend! Rebecca

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    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you so much for the visit! Our botanical garden here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, is lovely too, but a bit more formal and “sun swept.” Your native gardens are located on such an impressive section of land and has such a peaceful beauty. I was so impressed that I had to mention it on my blog after my rather quick visit to Santa Barbara. I’ll be sure to stop by when I’m in your part of the country again. Thanks again, and I’ll look for the post on Facebook! Take care,
      Elisa

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    1. Although we live on the East Coast (sort of) Atlanta feels as land-locked as a mid western city. I think that’s why I go so crazy when I visit the West Coast! Thanks Sue!

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    1. It IS a crazy beautiful city. And thanks for the follow on Twitter. I’ve been mucking around with that for a few years and your feed is the one of the most creative and highly entertaining feeds out there. !

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  8. We lived in Pasadena for several years and traveled up Santa Barbara way often. I remember the beauty. I remember the interstate traffic. It was nice to think about one of them again.

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  9. Next time you’re in Southern California and planning a trip to Santa Barbara, do not miss El Capitan State Beach (just north of S.B.) and do not miss the little town of Carpinteria (just south of S.B.). I seldom go to Santa Barbara anymore because these other two are uncrowded & more beautiful. And one more thing… don’t tell anyone about these 2 little bits of heaven. They belong to me and I do not wish to share (much).

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    1. Thank you so much for your generous advice! I didn’t mention in my post how crowded Hendry’s Beach was that evening…and now I’m happy I know where to go. Take care, and enjoy your weekend! (Your secret is safe with me) 🙂

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      1. I forgot to mention that Carpinteria is a modest little beach town which makes it uncrowded. But the real draw is the nearby bluffs and nature preserve. There is a seal sanctuary at one end of the beach, and at the other end are wonderful tidepools. At low tide there are sea anemone and crabs and gorgeous sea shells with their occupants fully armed & dangerous. It’s really a delight.
        http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/carpinteria-seal-sanctuary-overlook-via-carpinteria-bluffs-nature-preserve/

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  10. Stunning photos you have posted on your wonderful blog, Elisa! Thanks for stopping by the Pond at Ripple Effects. Considering your love for Nature and talent in photography, you’d love the environs here above the 49th parallel. Or maybe you have that Canadian experience already. If not, the Banff to Jasper route is a must-see. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Arti, I’ve always loved Canada. I haven’t made it to your neck of the woods, but we’ve totally enjoyed visiting Vancouver and Whistler. Thanks so much for stopping by.
      Elisa

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    1. Niki, how are you? Thanks so much for the lovely comment you made back in AUGUST!! I’ve been caught up in other things lately, but wanted to stop by and check in on my friends in my blog world. I’m always happy to see and hear from you, and hope that all is well. Take care,
      Elisa

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Being able to adjust is always a great feature for a traveller. And you did great here, coming of feeling misplaced. The images you took in Santa Barbara are stunning, beautiful. And best of all, you were able to enjoy yourself while being there. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I feel the same way, even after a long visit to beautiful but often overcast Europe…I’m always dreaming about California. Our daughter lives there and we always have the most wonderful time when we go out for a visit. Going again soon!

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