Santa Barbara

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Reviews of Santa Barbara

April 2008

Anyone have a recommendation for a hotel in Santa Barbara for a couple-night stay on our drive down to L.A.? We want to just play on the beach and go to the zoo with our 2 kids (1 and 4) to break up the road trip, but don't want to spend a fortune on accomodations.... kht

Nothing fancy, but there is a Motel 6 that is one (or two?) blocks from the beach in Santa Barbara that I stayed at once. Clean and decent, no frills. More expensive than the usual Motel 6 room, but it was close to the beach in Santa Barbara and cheaper than other hotels. And you won't have to worry about your little ones destroying the rooms because there is not much to destroy. I think it's this one: Andi
We just stayed at the Best Western Encina Lodge, which was very nice, in a residential neighborhood close to downtown. It's next to the hospital but it wasn't loud. I got a government rate, but I think it was reasonable for Santa Barbara. It's hard to find something inexpensive there. Annie
The Motel 6 in Santa Barbara is right near the beach. I believe this is THE original Motel 6... UCSB grad
You didn't mention what you considered a reasonable rate. I just spent a few days looking at B and hotels for July this year. I didn't look at the 2-star ones like Motel 6. The 3-stars and up ones started at around $150 plus 12% tax. I was not willing to spend more than $200 for a queen.

In any case, I ended up choosing Casa Del Mar because they had either kitchenettes or full kitchen, depending on the size of the room you wanted. Be sure you ask for them. This was great as I have an infant. The rooms also looked big enough to fit a playpen. It's right next to the beach and a few blocks from State street, the main tourist attraction.

I think there were also a few regular hotels like Holiday Inn that were very close to State street.

Try for reviews. You kind of get a sense of what people complain about for particular hotels. anon

Sept 2007

My husband and I will be traveling to Santa Barbara in December with our 18 month old. I'm looking for some recommendations of a decent but not over the top place to stay that's baby friendly. I've looked at the older postings, and didn't find too much. Any suggestions appreciated. Thx!

It's not specifically *baby*-friendly, but we found the Franciscan Inn in Santa Barbara to be family-friendly, a good value, and a great location (a block from the beach). It has a pool and hot tub. Enjoy your trip! Santa Barbara vacationer
Re: February vacation resort for baby and toddler? (Jan 2006)
We recently visited Santa Barbara with the toddler and baby and had a fabulous time. We felt that we did not have to go far for beautiful beaches, great weather, lodging, dining, and activity. We stayed at the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort, but they also have a Four Seasons Biltmore and Bacara Resort on the higher end. We had friends that rented a home instead at

If I could recommend one thing, it is to rent baby and toddler equipment. We went to and the service was just what we needed to help us feel pampered. There are other companies that do the same thing around the US at - also use for travel tips.

Most of all, focus on relaxation more than destination! Melissa

Santa Barbara romantic weekend

Feb 2006

We are considering a romantic weekend getaway to Santa Barbara and are looking for a recommendation of a place to stay. Does anyone know of a great place to stay while exploring Santa Barbara? Doesn't need to be fancy, but cozy and romantic would be perfect! Lori

For a romantic getaway in SB, you can't do better than to stay at the Hotel Andalucia downtown. It's a boutique hotel, fairly new, but close to everything and absolutely stunning down to the smallest detail. More Spain than Spain. Make sure you check out their roof deck - best view in all of SB. Have a drink and some tapas at Intermezzo near the Lobero Theater and you've got a weekend to remember. Have a lovely time! Julie T.
Try the Hotel Oceana in Santa Barbara. Great beds, right on the beach, pool, hip and fun and romantic. Have fun! sbwinchester
For a romantic getaway in Santa Barbara I recommend the Upham hotel. It is in upper downtown. Check out their website.

More reviews

May 2005
Re: 10th Anniversary romantic getaway
Before we had kids we used to spend our anniversaries at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara (actually in Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, as I recall). It is a very special place--individual cabins nestled in the beautiful landscaping, each with its own decor. Fireplaces, sitting rooms, beautiful furnishings, many antiques, etc. There is a wonderful restaurant on the premises, and Santa Barbara is nearby for sightseeing, shopping, etc. There are tennis courts, a pool, etc. I've never been there in the winter, but in the summer it is wonderful. It was quite pricey, but since we haven't been there in 20 years, I have no idea what that translates to in today's economy. Judy

Driving to Santa Barbara

May 2004

We will be driving to Santa Barbara in June for a family function. Our daughter will just have turned one the week before. She's almost walking, very active, in short, doesn't like staying in her car seat for very long. I'm wondering if people have any recommendations for places to stop along the way so we can let her out to crawl around and play? We will be taking 101 all the way down. My husband likes to drive without stopping other than short gas/bathroom breaks. I've told him this is no longer possible with a little one who needs to move around. To appease him, I need places that aren't too far off the main highway. He won't put up with hour long detours. mdel

There is a rest area around Paso Robles (after King City on the way down, about 2/3rds of the way) which has restrooms and a grass area and is very easily accessible from 101. michael
We drove to SB last summer on 101 with our 1.5 yo and 3.5 yo. There were zillions of construction delays and few good places to stop. Or it seemed that evry time we needed a bathroom break, we were stopped by construction or close to a vile rest stop. If you can't fly, I strongly suggest driving at night. Traffic around San Jose was also bad. We left at 1 p.m. to take advantage of nap time, but it wasn't enough! SB airport looked good
I didn't see the original post, but I wanted to add my two cents. We just got back from a trip down south that included Santa Barbara. That part was my favorite of the trip. Gorgeous weather, good food. Beautiful scenery. 101 is the only way down of course, and I was surprised to see how beautiful the drive was (I went to UCSB 20 yrs ago and had forgotten) the speed limit is up to 65 so it doesn't take as long as it used to and there are LOTS of places to stop on the way. We left @ 1pm to take advanage of nap time but I would recommend leaving earlier to avoid traffic in San Jose, which is the only traffic we experienced.(Your child will probably fall asleep at nap time mid trip anyway!) We had no problems with construcion. The part between Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara is particularly beautiful, so don't drive at night or you will miss it all!

BTW, don't miss the Zoo's beautiful and small so can be done in a couple of hours. Also, we rented a bicycle while there...a ''surry'' that my husband and I rode side by side while our toddler sat in front of us to see the sights...that was the highlight of our trip! Have fun. anon

Cottage or condo in Santa Barbara

March 2004

We are considering a trip to Santa Barbara with our 20 month old and 5 year old for 5-6 days in early April. Ideally, we'd like to rent a cottage or condo. Does anyone have any recommendations for rental units or rental agencies you've used? I've seen prior posts on activities but no mention of child friendly accommodations.

We stayed at the Eagle Inn for about 1 month when our daughter was a newborn. They have large rooms and full kitchens. Our unit had a wonderful rocking chair which was a big plus with a newborn. We stayed on the first floor for convenience. The Inn is near the beach and State Street shopping. We went for walks everyday and had a lovely stay. - RK

Vacation in Santa Barbara with kids 4 1/2 and 1 1/2

June 2003

We're thinking of vacationing in Santa Barbara this summer with our two kids who are 4 1/2 and 1 1/2. We've never been there, so would like recommendations on everything from where to stay, where to eat and kid-friendly places to go. ellen

Fun things for little kids in Santa Barbara include:

The zoo, called ''Child's Estate'', and riding on the little train that runs through the zoo.

The Natural History Museum. My 4 year old nephew absolutely loves this place, and goes there every time he's in SB visiting his grandparents.

Any of the many beaches in town. Near East or West Beach, which are the main beaches along Cabrillo Blvd in downtown SB, you can rent one of those family bicycle things, that hold about 6 people, including small seats for little kids, and ride along the bike path parallel to the beach. You can also rent bikes or skates. Walking out on the pier is also fun.

Sunday mornings, theres a great arts and crafts show along Cabrillo Blvd. Its free, and very scenic just to walk along.

Visiting the Santa Barbara Courthouse, which has a beautiful fountain in front, neat murals, beautiful tiled stairwells and hallways for running up and down, and a tower where you can look out on all the rooftops in town.

Near Santa Barbara, to the North are a few other options, including Nojouqui Park, which is a small county park, off of highway 101 about 30 miles North of town. It has a walking trail (1/4 mile or so) that leads to a nice little waterfall. Also in that area are Lake Cachuma, and the touristy but kind-of fun little pseudo-Danish village called Solvang. Mara (a Santa Barbara native)

I grew up in Santa Barbara, my mother still lives there and I have a two year old son. Here are a few of the thoughts that come to mind:
- The Santa Barbara Zoo is great, beautiful
- Spend time at the beach. Our favorite is South of Santa Barbara at Santa Claus Lane.
- Also at Santa Claus Lane is the Padaro Grill -- freshly grilled food (sandwiches and salads), beer, wine and outdoor tables with a big sand pit where the kids can play while you enjoy the beautiful SB outdoors. (Really, why aren't there more truly kid friendly restaurants everywhere?) This place is GREAT.
- If either of your children are train fans, check out the South Coast Railroad Museum in Goleta --
- Chase Palm Park on Cabrillo Blvd near Stearns Wharf is a great park with a carousel. On weekend nights they often have live outdoor concerts at the park.
- Walking along the breakwater is a great place to look at boats, pelicans, seals and maybe get splashed by a wave. Stearns Wharf is touristy, but also fun. Also, I have never done it, but renting a pedal car along the Cabrillo Blvd. waterfront looks like fun.
- SB has lots of festivals and parades -- Fiesta is the first weekend in August, food festivals in Oak Park, Big Dog Parade is sometime.....

I Love Santa Barbara

Hi there, Santa Barbara is a beautiful town with lots of child friendly activities. There is a managable sized zoo there, wonderful beaches to walk along.........amazing parks. One in particular is called kids world i think, it is the corner of santa Barbara st and Arrellaga. There is also a park called Alice keck there too with some ponds and turtles!There is chase Palm park, right on Cabrillo st, across from the ocean, there is a carosel and great play area there too.

Paoli's returant is the first resturant i think of for kid friendly and good, its a family run italian place down town, close to the water, its on state st and yanonali, right across from the train station. Have fun cris

Santa Barbara is a great place to visit, with kids or without. There are a lot of places to stay on (or within a block or two of) the beach. Be sure to get a place with a pool. The main street is State St. and it runs from downtown, under the freeway to the beach, ending at a Pier with lots of restaurants and shops. You can rent bikes, skates, and pedi-cabs (that seat 4) to ride along the path that goes along the beach. There is also an electric shuttle that you can ride for 25 cents that takes you up State St. through downtown and another that goes along the beach. There is a very nice, small zoo at the far east end of the beach (it will feel like the south end, but the coastline there actually goes east-west). Downtown there are a lot of nice restaurants with courtyards off the street. I would also recommend going to the Courthouse, a beautiful old Mission-era building with sunken gardens and a tower you can go up and get a great 360 degree view.

For excursions out of the downtown/beach area, you can take a boat to the channel islands. You may also get a chance to see ''dolphin city'', an area between the coast and the islands where there are literally 100's if not 1,000's of dolphins. There is also great hiking and picnic-ing in the hills above the city: Los Padres National Forest and Lake Cachuma area. (If you can, find someone to tell you how to get to Red Rock and/or the Painted Caves too.) Have fun! Frances