Posts Tagged ‘Santa Barbara’
Our Private Tour Guide Recommends the Santa Barbara Inn
You might call it a busman’s holiday but sometimes we at Elite Adventure Tours just need to leave Los Angeles and become sightseers in another city. One recent holiday by a member of our staff was to Santa Barbara, the American Riviera. This beautiful city on the Pacific is less than two hours drive away. That means a weekend away really means most of the weekend will be spent in Santa Barbara. Stearns Wharf, State Street, the Santa Barbara Mission, the Santa Barbara Zoo and the shoreline from Montecito up to the University of California Santa Barbara and Isla Vista offer plenty to see and do when relaxing away from the hubbub of Los Angeles. Like our City of Angels there is swimming, surfing and many different kinds of ocean recreational boating for the adventurous folks who like heart-pounding exercise. There are also tidepools galore and whalewatching (seals, sea lions and porpoises, too) for those of us seeking more placid recreation. Now, where to stay? Our guide says that the newly renovated Santa Barbara Inn is the BEST. The Santa Barbara Inn is right on the beach, walking distance to State Street shopping and dining and also has its own fine restaurant, Convivo. Of most importance, we are told, the inn is quiet. Elegant and comfortable, too, but mostly it is quiet. Asked if the serenity was just a matter of a wintertime visit we are assured that even at full capacity the design does not transfer sound from the bar into the guestrooms or from one room to another. Since we are often in Santa Barbara on the way to or from the nearby Santa Ynez Valley for our wine tours knowing firsthand where we can stay on an overnight private tour from Los Angeles is terrific information. So, if you want to know where to stay when visiting Santa Barbara, we suggest following the recommendation of our own guide and making reservations at the Santa Barbara Inn.
Our Tour Guests Have St. Junipero Serra in Mind
Santa Barbara is a reasonable, and quite beautiful, drive north from Los Angeles and a lovely excuse for a day trip out of the city. Like Los Angeles, a city on the coast, there is a harbor and beaches and a lovely pier right in downtown Santa Barbara. The red-tiled roofs signal our arrival after the extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean and California coast. Generally, we explore State Street, its shops, galleries and restaurants, the old Arlington Theater and after that most of our guests are interested in heading over the San Marcos Mountains to visit the nearby wine region. However, on this particular trip our guests were much more interested in spending time at the Santa Barbara Mission. Of the 21 missions along El Camino Real (the King’s Highway, really just a mule trail at the time), the mission at Santa Barbara draws huge crowds and is referred to as the Queen of the Missions. Over the 85 years of mission construction in California this was the third one built and is one of the most popular mission destinations in the state. There is no doubt that the Spanish settlements led to the development of the area in terms of agriculture and shipping, made the first inroads into water transport and irrigation, and began the colonization that would result in California becoming the state that it is today. But the mission story is not without controversy. The recently canonized Junipero Serra is not always celebrated for his zeal and persistence in creating the network of Franciscan colonies. That is a story we can share with our private Los Angeles tour guests who are curious about this period of California history. There are seven missions we can visit in Southern California to make a custom El Camino Real journey for history buffs spending time in Los Angeles.
Our Private Tour Flies Up to Santa Barbara
Like the ever popular destination San Diego, Santa Barbara is a relatively short drive up the coast (more west than north) from Los Angeles. There is much to see and talk about on the drive but it is still time on the highway in a car and at the wrong time of day or when the traffic gods are angry it can be a slow arduous ride. An exciting way to avoid the drive is to fly…in a luxury helicopter (our new Agusta A109). The twin jet engines permit us to fly out to sea though our pilots really enjoy flying low above the calm seas so we can spot whales, dolphins, seals and surfers as we skim over the water near the beaches. One of the most beautiful sights in Santa Barbara is the campus of the University of California. Roughly 23,000 students enjoy more than 1,000 acres situated on a point of land jutting into the blue Pacific Ocean. There is a lagoon right on campus and nearby wetlands that are homes to many species of birds that travel through the area during the year. We look at the beautiful beaches along the campus, the quaint village of Isla Vista abutting it and wonder how any studying or research gets done.
Our Private Tour Guests Spend a
Day in Santa Barbara
We are so fortunate to live in Los Angeles because we have Santa Barbara a short and beautiful drive up the coast and San Diego a scenic ride down the coast. Both cities are very exciting destinations for our private Los Angeles tour guests. This day we flew by helicopter up along the Southern California coast and upon landing in Santa Barbara boarded a luxury SUV for some exploration of this beautiful mission city with a highly regarded public university located right on the beach. Santa Barbara, noted for its red tile roofs, includes the wealthy neighborhood of Montecito which is much like Beverly Hills. There are celebrity homes, big mansions and fancy restaurants like Lucky’s Steakhouse at 1279 Coast Village Road. A purported favorite of Oprah Winfrey, a neighbor, this restaurant is an old-fashioned steakhouse. Beef, chops, lobster, big leafy salads and strong cocktails with a large wine selection distinguish it from other fine dining establishments and keep the regular patrons coming back and lures our Los Angeles guests up from the big city on the coast to the little city on the coast.
After Sunset Flying Tour Back to Los Angeles
After a day of fine wine tasting and exploring the Santa Ynez Valley and its many extraordinary wineries it is time to fly back to Los Angeles. Flying to Santa Barbara saves a good deal of driving time and allows for more private tasting sessions in the wine region made famous in the novel and film SIDEWAYS. The fictional material still draws our private Los Angeles tour guests to our very own Sideways tour. We can either fly or drive up to the wine region near Santa Barbara. If we drive we can let our guests watch the movie on the 23″ built-in LED screen in our custom van. For an added treat, we know Rex Pickett, the author, quite well and can often arrange for him to join us on the tour for a special insight into wine, Santa Ynez vintners and Hollywood.