Last year, our summer vacation was a road trip with stops in San Diego and Santa Barbara. I wrote about San Diego with a toddler in a previous post. Today, I’ll share with you the highlights of Flying Lad’s first trip to Santa Barbara.
This was our favorite stop. We initially found out about it using the TV Food Maps just as we had used on our cross-country road trip a couple of years ago. Nestled in the mountains, you feel like you’re taking a step back in time as you explore the buildings on the property before (or after) sitting down to a delicious meal in the tavern, which dates back to 1865! I feel like I should’ve shown up in costume via horse-drawn carriage.
The history of this place is amazing, and some of the stories about the individual pieces are quite remarkable. There is an old jail which someone had sitting in their back yard with apparently no idea what it was. Maybe just a shed? Finally, after finding out what it was they offered it the “Ojai Jail” the City of Ojai who turned it down. Cold Spring Tavern purchased it and had to move it in one piece over the hills, and through the woods to its current resting spot. The City later came back and wanted to buy it from Cold Spring, but were turned down.
It wasn’t easy finding a place to stay. We usually like to stay at Hyatt’s or Kimpton’s, but the Hyatt in SB didn’t have great reviews and the Kimpton wasn’t available, so we ended up splurging and stayed at the Bacara Resort, which is actually in Goleta. We were able to score a little bit of a deal through one of their online offerings. It is a beautiful property. I felt like I was in Hawaii, just colder. The landscape has a lot of grassy open areas, as well as flowering bushes. The oceanfront views are gorgeous. Flying Lad greatly enjoyed taking the golf cart from the main lobby building to our room. The first night we had planned to have dinner at the casual restaurant on property, but Flying Lad decided he wanted to go back to the room, so we had everything packed up and ate in the room. The second night, we ate at the oceanfront pool bar, which offers a more casual menu and overlooks a sand play area, so Flying Dad and Flying Momma took turns eating and watching Flying Lad play.
The food both times was delicious, if not a tad pricey. When you’re paying resort prices it sometimes puts a damper on things. From the main restaurant one night we had a couple of flatbreads and an appetizer. With two drinks set us back around $80+. On another afternoon we ordered from the deck side restaurant which utilizes the same kitchen. This was definitely not worth the price, even at half-off. But the drinks were good.
The resort felt very family oriented. There were lots of kids in the enormous pool and the sand play area for little ones. We didn’t spend time at the pool, but we did enjoy walking down to the beach. Note: beware the tar. Apparently it’s a naturally occurrence on the beaches in SB, and not the result of any oil spill or leakage from the derricks easily visible from shore, but it’ll stick to your shoes and feet, so be prepared to scrub, if you venture onto the beach. Tar notwithstanding, it’s beautiful!
Ad speaking of the oil derricks, thy do sort of spoil the vista. You’ll find yourself trying to frame up your pictures just right to keep them out of view. Otherwise you’ll be using Photoshop later.
My cousin had told me about Solvang and after checking it out online, we were excited about visiting in person. It’s a Danish village, complete with windmill, 45 minute drive north from Santa Barbara. We had planned to have brunch and then walk around. We were told it would be a 15-20 wait for a table at Paula’s Pancake House. We decided to sit down at the Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery next door and have a couple of pastries while we waited. It also gave us a chance to review the map of the town. We also picked up a couple pastries to bring back to the hotel for snack or breakfast the next morning. As many bakeries do, they had a shelf with day old odds and ends at super cheap prices. We’re a big fan of those! Breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House was delicious. We enjoyed a solid breakfast on the patio. The Danish pancakes truly were remarkable, and I recommend it when you go. On our walk, we didn’t make it too far on account of the sun beating down and ensuing heat. I think we’ll need to go back around the winter holidays to enjoy the decorations and experience a bit more. And next time, it might be a stop on our way back North.
Evidently, La Super Rica was Julia Child’s favorite place to eat in her later years. So being the foodies that we are, we wanted to try it. But it was closed. It’s closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Whether or not this place exists on the Julia Child’s name and it truly is worthy of the lines bestowed upon it, or if it is another place like so many in California that for whatever reason does not live up to so much hype around it, we cannot know. We hope that if you have been there, or get a chance, you’ll let us know.
Cheese glorious cheese! We are big cheese fans. In fact maybe we should have a cheese section on Filivino. We were walking around downtown Santa Barbara trying to figure out what we wanted. Yelp told us to go to the cheese shop, and we can’t say no to that. Inside you’ll find a couple of small display cases with all manners of cheese, a cafe counter for ordering baked goods, drinks, and hot prepared foods, and a smattering of tables. And in the baked goods – kouign amann! Pronounced “Queen Ahmahn” this is probably our favorite baked good, and hard to find, too. Sometimes they have them in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s and we buy them by the dozen before they disappear. Anyways, these pastries are flaky, buttery, caramelly, crunchy, and amazing. They also serve grilled cheese sandwiches! This place had us in heaven. We would be so fat if we lived anywhere near here. If you’re a fan of cheese, or great cafe’s, stop by.
We also stopped in at Andersen’s Danish Bakery for a few more proper danish pastries (one stop at Olsen’s wasn’t enough). Cinnamon Kringles! Raspberry Kringles! Kris Kringles! All amazing! Again, if we lived anywhere near all of these bakeries and cheeseries we would have to rent a hoveround to get from place to place.
In all, it felt like a short trip, but it was relaxing, and fattening for the entire family. When we return we will likely use the Bacara resort, and definitely go back to Cold Spring Tavern.
If we have missed something, let us know in the comments!