Santa Barbara, edged by the Pacific Ocean’s Channel Islands to the west and enveloped by Central California’s wine country foothills to the east, is a destination for beachgoers, wine aficionados, cycling enthusiasts and people wanting to comb the boutique shops of downtown's State Street. With a rich cultural history paying tribute to Native American settlement, the establishment of the Santa Barbara Presidio mission in 1782, and agricultural development involving avocados, walnuts and lima beans, Santa Barbara is also home to numerous hotels and motels.
Motel Hacienda is centrally located on State Street, with convenient access to countless cafes, bistros, boutique shops and the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center, a semi-outdoor mall featuring upscale name brands. Rooms feature basic amenities including free wireless Internet, though you may reserve rooms with kitchenettes for an additional fee. The reliable Motel 6 chain maintains a venue less than half a mile from the Santa Barbara Zoo and within walking distance to the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and bustling Stearn’s Wharf. In 2010 Motel 6 rooms had been remodeled to include granite bathroom countertops and LCD TV sets equipped with gaming connections so kids can unwind with their favorite video games after a long day at the beach.
Many visitors come to Santa Barbara because of the town’s relaxed and picturesque beaches, and plenty of hotels are within a stone’s throw of sandy spots to plunk down with a comfy beach towel and a picnic cooler. The Harbor View Inn is within walking distance to West Beach, where visitors will sometimes see artisan fairs and is en route to the marina where you may rent kayaks, book a chartered sail or ogle the luxury yachts. Harbor View features a heated and tropically landscaped swimming pool, fitness center, and spa menu including a coffee butter massage and coconut sugar scrubs. The Hyatt-managed, AAA-rated three-diamond Hotel Mar Monte is also at the beach with easy access to sand volleyball courts and beachfront biking trails. Rooms feature original artwork, wireless Internet and windows that open.
The Montecito Inn is within two blocks of Santa Barbara’s quiet Butterfly Beach, screened by a backdrop of trees with views toward the Channel Islands. Charlie Chaplin built the boutique hotel in 1928, and rooms come with Charlie Chaplin DVD selections. Amenities include heated pool, Abachi wood sauna, free use of beach cruisers, on-call childcare service and beach umbrellas. Luxury rooms are soundproof and have Italian marble bathrooms, bathrobes and fireplaces.
The Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara makes an ideal hub for exploring State Street. Check out Canary Hotel's rooftop pool and patio equipped with fireplace, lounge chairs and views of the Pacific Ocean, hillsides and the shopping district. The hotel occasionally offers packages including wine-tasting and beach cruisers for two and hosts regular art exhibitions. At the restaurant, try the “Brine y Bubbles Trio” featuring oysters and champagne, seafood caught fresh from local fishing boats, or happy hour items including tuna tartare, lobster fritters and pineapple brown-sugar infused specialty margaritas.
- mission of santa-barbara image by Ary from Fotolia.com