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One-Tank Trip to Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara, America's Riviera, is just an hour and a half outside of the LA metro area, perfect whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a fun trip with the whole family. No need to plan ahead, just park at the Visitor's Center on 1601 Anacapa and pick up a map. Not only will you be able to situate yourself in this idyllic town easily, this map loaded with coupons for the local eateries, shopping and wineries, all within walking distance of the beach. Just a tank of gas away, nothing beats a quick trip to this super-fun destination.

Orange County to Imerial Beach
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Getting There
Take 101 north to exit 96b for a drive slightly less than two hours. A more scenic route, of course, is to take Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) for a stint, then hop back on 101 into Santa Barbara. Without traffic, this only adds a little extra time to the trip, but be sure to check ahead.

Silver Strand State Beach
Photo Credit:

Sunday Arts and Crafts Show

Cabrillo Boulevard at State Street
Santa Barbara, CA
(805) 962-8956

Each Sunday, local vendors of art and crafts line the sidewalks of Cabrillo Boulevard between State Street and Calle Cesar Chaves. Pick up anything from an original painting to a sun visor for your dog. Pottery, toys, glasswork and garden decorations are all on display by local artists every day. Enjoy the stroll along the shore for a refreshing, less cramped version of Venice beach.

Hotel Del Coronado
(credit: ThinkStock)


East Beach, right near the zoo, is a great option for families, right in the middle of everything. Parking can be a bit of a pain, but walking from the Visitor's Center or zoo is completely viable for most groups at just a couple of miles. For sunset views with your honey, don't miss out on Butterfly Beach. For other amazing beach-front options, click here.

Border Field State Park
Photo Credit:

Enterprise Fish Co
225 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA

At the mouth of Stearns Warf, follow State Street north from the pier. Just below the 101 Freeway, you'll find a splendid slew of neighborhood boutiques and restaurants. Enterprise Fish Co. is a popular stop for lunch or dinner, not too far from the beach, and you may pick up a free appetizer by showing your map from the Visitor's Center. Popular for its fresh-from-the-ocean cuisine, visitors are sure to enjoy the ambiance and watching their chefs cook on the open grills in the center of the dining area.

Related: Family Field Trip to San Diego's Mission Bay

The Tin Fish
Photo Credit;

Municipal Winemakers
On the Imperial Beach Pier
22 Anacapa St.
Santa Barbara, CA
(805) 598-1896

Price: $10 per person for five samples

Visit the local and independently run wineries and sample the fare on the Urban Wine Trail. There are officially 15 stops on the trail, each with its own personality and range of wine options (ie: dessert wines, port, reds and whites). Wine tastings usually run $10 per person for up to 10 samples, and bottles may be purchased for $16 to $25. One of the most popular stops is Municipal Winemakers for its retro ambiance and lively terrace.

counter burger
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Ty Warner Sea Center
211 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA
(805) 962-2526

Price: $8 adults/$7 seniors 65 and older/$7 teens 13 to 17/$5 children 2 to 12/free children younger than 2/free museum members

Right in the center of the pier, this museum literally sits atop the Pacific Ocean. An appendage of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, it features ample marine life for any adventurous traveler. Fun for the whole family, the museum offers an up-close look at sea life in the area. This is a great last-stop before heading back to the Tourist Center parking lot and taking off to the zoo.

counter burger
Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Santa Barbara Zoo
500 Niños Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 962-6310

Price: $14 adults/$10 children 2 to 12 and seniors 65 and older/free children younger than 2

Featuring more than 500 animals and 30 gorgeous, sprawling, green acres, this zoo is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. It's especially child friendly, with daily giraffe feedings, a carousel and a farm animal petting area. For an even more special experience, upgrade your admission with the backstage pass, granting you interactive access to many of the zoo's animals, right alongside the zookeepers. The zoo's newest attraction is the "How to Train Your Dinosaur" show, features a life-sized and life-like tyrannosaurus rex.
Related: Field Trip to Viceroy Palm Springs

Danielle Farve is a freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. Her work can be found on

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