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 Encourages Car-free, Care-free Family Travel this Summer

Santa Barbara's family-friendly vacation activitiesIt’s not easy to find that perfect family destination. Planning the summer vacation can be a challenge when trying to cater to kids of all ages, interests of all levels and budgets of every size. But there’s a town at the southern tip of California’s Central Coast that might have everything you’re looking for, including less time spent in the car, standing in line or asking, “Are we there yet?” Welcome to Santa Barbara, where the perfect family vacation is all within reach… and within walking distance.

With gas prices on the rise, families are looking for more economical means of travel and what better way to see the sights, relax and arrive in style than by train! Santa Barbara county hosts nine Amtrak stations—Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc, Surf, Guadalupe and Santa Maria. Enjoy coastal views, comfortable seats and some car-free travel. This summer, you can save 20% with the Santa Barbara Car Free Special Amtrak California Discount Offer! Coming from the other coast? The Santa Barbara Airport offers over 30 daily departures via five major airlines. Continue reading

Travel App, Central Coast’s Santa Cruz

When you’re traveling through California’s Central Coast, you’ll want easy-to-access information on everything the coast has to offer. Many cities and counties in the four central coast regions offer up-to-the-minute information accessible to visitors via mobile applications. And now Santa Cruz has one too!

Want to have Santa Cruz in the palm of your hand? Plan your trip anytime and anywhere using their Visit Santa Cruz Travel app available on iTunes and at the Android Marketplace. The Visit Santa Cruz app is also available via the mobile CVC website, and by scanning a Microsoft tag in the 2012 Official Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide. Continue reading

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.

California’s Central Coast, Historical Missions

Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg

Between 1769 and 1823, twenty-one missions were built throughout California. Eleven are located in the Central Coast—the largest concentration of California missions—and many are still active churches. Why not take a road trip and see them all? Here is a list of California’s Central Coast missions by region: Continue reading

Channel Islands National Park: The Galápagos of North America

This is the perfect time of year to really get out there and explore all that California’s Central Coast has to offer. A perfect example? Channel Islands National Park.

Comprised of five islands known as “the Galápagos of North America,” Channel Islands National Park is a world apart. Despite the isolation that makes it one of the country’s least-visited national parks and that allows 2,000 plant and animal species to thrive (the cat-sized Island fox is one of 145 Channel Islands species found nowhere else in the world), some areas can be reached in an hour or less from Oxnard and Ventura with Island Packers. You can also travel to Santa Rosa Island on flights with Channel Islands Aviation.

For excellent introductions to the islands, stop at visitor centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara. The renovated Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center at Ventura Harbor features new interactive displays and a tidal pool exhibit with lobsters and sand sharks. 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.