Santa Barbara Receives Travel Awards and Accolades

Wine Tasting by Bike in Santa Barbara

It appears to be the unofficial travel editorial awards season and Santa Barbara is the proud recipient of a variety of notable mentions and magazine highlights. The callouts are exciting testaments to both travel writers’ and readers’ love of this favorite coastal destination.

The Los Angeles Times audience voted Santa Barbara the Best Getaway in the 2012 Travel and Entertainment Readers’ Choice Awards! This was followed by two more editorial accolades, including:

  • Departures Magazine: World’s Most Bikeable Wine Regions – This mention talks about Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone—the section of city located between the Pacific and Highway 101 that has given rise to a variety of artisan winemakers, galleries and boutique hotels—which is home to the Urban Wine Trail. Made up of 17 Santa Barbara County tasting rooms all within blocks of each other and the beach, the Urban Wine Trail provides the perfect path to enjoy some quality pours mixed with easy pedaling or a ride in a pedicab!
  • Travel + Leisure Magazine: Best Hotels in California – Two of Santa Barbara’s esteemed hotel properties proudly made this list. The San Ysidro Ranch, which is a 500-acre property offering 27 rooms and 14 vine-covered cottages in a secluded setting near downtown Santa Barbara, was JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s choice as a honeymoon spot. Additionally, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara was chosen for its Spanish Colonial style and dream-like coastal expanse along Montecito’s waterfront.

Santa Barbara and other Central California gems continued their time in the spotlight with this month’s issue of the Wine Enthusiast, which ran the article, California’s Highway 1, The Wine-Lover’s Route. From the Urban Wine Trail to the Sideways highlights of the Santa Ynez and Solvang valleys, the article takes the reader on a virtual tour of some of the Central Coast’s best tasting rooms.

Pick up your copies today or read the articles online! For updated information on Santa Barbara happenings, news and events and special offers, make sure to follow Santa Barbara on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or check in with us on FourSquare!

Santa Barbara Blooming with Events and Festivals this Spring!

It’s spring in Santa Barbara, which means the event and festival scene begins to ramp up as the days get longer and warmer! If you’re cruising through California’s Central Coast, plan your trip to coincide with one, or a few, of these classic Santa Barbara happenings:

The 24th Annual Santa Maria Strawberry Festival: April 29 – May 1, 2012
Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake and no place produces strawberries quite as sweet as Santa Maria Valley. Head to Santa Maria Fairpark April 29th, 30th and May 1st from 11:00am – 11:00pm for some wholesome family fun, including the biggest, juiciest, freshest strawberries Santa Barbara County has to offer. A variety of culinary delights and cooking demonstrations will complement.

1st Thursday: May 3rd and June 7th, 2012
Join Santa Barbarans for an evening of art and culture, free to the public! Wander galleries and art-related venues to take in the best of the Santa Barbara arts and culture scene. 5:00pm – 8:00pm. Continue reading

California’s Central Coast Highlight: April Events

During April, the four regions of California’s Central Coast offer many wonderful events to enjoy. Here are just a few:

The Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival is an annual culinary celebration of the world’s finest food and wines (4/12 – 4/15). With wine tastings and special dishes prepared by leading chefs, the Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival Weekend is the perfect way to welcome spring (4/20 – 4/23). The contemporary dining scene and area wineries of Pismo Beach take center stage during Taste of Pismo, a great opportunity to sample local wines and discover this city’s restaurants (4/20 – 4/22). The historic Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament is one of the country’s leading amateur events where such legends as Pete Sampras and Billie Jean King once played (4/24 – 4/29). Tip your glass at Paso Robles’ 20th Annual Hospice du Rhône and journey through the largest international collection of Rhône variety wines (4/26 – 4/28). For lovers of all things strawberry, nothing beats the sweet sensations of the Santa Maria Strawberry Festival (4/27 – 4/29).

To find more events held throughout California’s Central Coast, visit TourTheCentralCoast.com.

20th Annual “Taste of Solvang”

Enjoy the rich Danish culture and culinary heritage at this year’s Taste of Solvang. The annual event is now on its 20th year and is offering even more new features. To fit it all in, the event spans 5 days, so don’t worry about missing out. Make Solvang your next stop between  March 14 & 18 and savor the flavors of locally grown foods and traditionally prepared plates.

Clam Chowder Festival – Santa Cruz

If you’re looking for some delicious plans this weekend, look no further. Head on over to Santa Cruz and join in on the public chowder tastings at the 31st Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off & Festival.

Contestants in the Individual and Professional categories will be whipping up their unique takes on the creamy stew, so be sure to vote for your favorite. Get your fill of Boston and Manhattan chowders along with entertainment on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Santa Maria Wines Extend Hot Streak

By Santa Maria Valley Visitor & Convention Bureau

The wines of the Santa Maria Valley continue to extend their hot streak, with two bottlings from Bien Nacido Vineyard being named to esteemed critic Steve Heimoff’s list of top-scoring wines of 2011 out of 4,800 wines tasted. Talk about beating the odds with remarkable fruit!

Heimoff, the West Coast editor of the Wine Enthusiast, gave the Qupe 2006 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard 25th Anniversary X-Block and Foxen 2010 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Block UU the highest scores in their varietal categories in 2011. Continue reading

Walking Food Tours in Ojai

Ojai CVB

Like many travelers, food is one of the many joys that comes along with going to new places. The food tours in Ojai are a nice balance between sightseeing and eating scrumptious treats from area businesses.

If you’re looking for a nice stroll, some friendly company, and a look at Ojai’s dining scene, this tour is in good taste. Tour dates are limited (the first being February 11) so take a look at the tour offerings and get more information here.