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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Aloha from California’s BBQ Capital

Talk about a win-win situation! Residents of the Central Coast can now fly directly to beautiful Hawaii via the Santa Maria Public Airport…And now residents of Hawaii have a straight shot to California’s BBQ Capital!

Indeed, as reported in the Santa Maria Times, “Visitors to the Santa Maria Public Airport will be noticing a little more ‘island style’ starting today after Allegiant Air announces it will begin flights to Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov. 17…Andrew Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Co., said Santa Maria’s location and its already active service to Las Vegas played a big role in securing the Hawaiian service…’We believe we’ll be able to pull people from all over the area. We think it will be a good route.’” Continue reading

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

Biking in Ventura County

Photos: Jeffrey Greenberg

Right now is a great time to get outside, get in shape, and have some fun.

Bicycle enthusiasts in Ventura will enjoy the 12-mile-long Omer Rains Trail, a coastal biking and walking route where you can exercise while enjoying breathtaking views. The trail connects to the Ventura River Bike Trail, which climbs gently inland for six miles to Foster Park. From there, you can bicycle nearly 10 miles to Ojai via the Ojai Valley Trail. Both of these trails follow the route of a converted railroad line.

For more information and to see a list of things to do outdoors in Ventura click here.

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

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