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!

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California’s Central Coast Highlight: May Events, Part 1

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

The Steinbeck Festival in Salinas looks at the life of the native-son novelist with tours of sites that played parts in his works and literary lectures (5/3 – 5/6). Ventura Music Festival features national and international performers in concert at historic and architecturally significant venues (5/3 – 5/12). Marina hosts the annual Festival of the Winds—the one time each year when hang gliders and giant kites might just outnumber raptors and songbirds along the coast (5/12). Carnival rides, two concert stages, a beer garden, music, activities and a celebration of small-town life are among the highlights of the Fillmore May Festival (5/17 – 5/20). The 30th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival celebrates the finest in food and wine, embracing all that defines Paso Robles Wine Country (5/18 – 5/20). Renowned as “California’s Strawberry Coast,” Oxnard’s nationally recognized California Strawberry Festival draws 60,000 visitors, who come to sample strawberry foods and browse for fine arts and crafts (5/19 – 5/20).

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

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.

Flying High in BBQ Country, Santa Maria Valley

The fine weather in the Santa Maria Valley is one reason why the region is known as California’s BBQ Capital. After all, you need pretty good weather to barbecue all year round like the locals do, right?

The valley’s moderate coastal climate is also conducive to producing world-class wines, growing some of California’s finest strawberries and…flying kites! And on April 22, in the heart of National Kite Month, the valley’s open skies and cool breezes will abound with color as the Discovery Museum hosts its annual Family Kite Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rotary Centennial Park. Continue reading

Santa Clara Valley Spring Passport Weekend

Get your fill of Santa Clara Valley wines March 24th–25th at the Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend hosted by Wineries of Santa Clara Valley! There will be over 20 participating wineries offering wine and food pairings, plus additional entertainment including music, art, winery tours, and barrel tastings.

With your purchase of the event’s wine passport, you’ll receive a souvenir wine glass and wine trail map. For more information on the event and how to purchase your wine passport click here. Cheers!

Santa Barbara Celebrates Its Earth-friendly Side with Ecotopia in March and April

Year-round climate perfect for producing savor fruits and veggies? Check. The ocean on one side and beckoning mountain trails on the other? Check. A community that’s long been committed to sustainability and is the proud founder of the first Earth Day celebration? Check!  It’s no secret that Santa Barbara’s South Coast is an Earth-lovers paradise. As a local with a bent for sustainability and all things eco, I’m looking forward to celebrating Santa Barbara’s green scene in March and April during Ecotopia—two months of recognizing the area’s unique sustainable aspects—because, when you live in a place as beautifully bountiful as SB, celebrating the Earth takes more than a day.

Follow Ecotopia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and FourSquare for weekly updates or use my quick guide to making the most of Santa Barbara’s inviting Earth-friendly activities while lowering your carbon footprint at the same time.

  1. As a seafood lover, an occasional trip to the weekly Santa Barbara Fish Market (Saturdays in the Harbor from 7:00am – 11:00am) is a must. Fishermen are encouraged to harvest sustainably and the local catch means less oil and gas to transport. If you’d rather dine out, look for Ty Warner Sea Center’s Sustainable Food Program Member stickers on storefront windows. Continue reading