Santa Barbara questions...

Feb 8th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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Santa Barbara questions...

Hi! From the answers to my other post & some research, we have decided to go to Santa Barbara for 3 nights (we will be in Orange visiting family in July & will have 3 nights to ourselves without the baby).

I have been researching hotels and things to do & I have some questions:

1. Is is better to stay in SB, or are the other towns in the county OK as a base?

2. We are looking for a nice, cozy, relaxing B&B or Inn (not a big hotel)...any suggestions?

3. I am looking for suggestions for a tour of the wineries. Tour bus? Limo?

I haven't been to the area, so I am having a hard time imagining it. I think we would like a place with a good location that is central to many attractions, but I can't quite figure out where/what that would be from reading websites & maps.

We are interested in the wineries, eating good food, relaxing, some sightseeing, beach. Not into golf or shopping (maybe just some window shopping while walking).

These are the places that I am considering so far:
- Ballard Inn
- Harborview Inn
- Santa Ynez Inn
- Simpson House Inn
- Fess Parkers
- Storybook Inn in Solvang
- Petersen Village Inn

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advice.
KEC is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 02:24 PM
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Hands down I would recommend Simpson House Inn but it's definitly on the pricey side. We stayed there one night in the Carriage Room two years ago and it was fantastic. Fantastic service, quiet and beautiful grounds (you would never know that it's in the middle of a neighborhood), great breakfast and evening snacks. They are close enough to walk downtown to restaurants and the trolley stops outside which you get free tickets to with your stay. We had a wood burning fire place, jacuzzi tub, etc...
lenleigh is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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That sounds so nice! Not sure if it's in our price range though...maybe the least expensive room. If we stayed there, or somewhere else in SB, are there tours that go to the wineries? I am trying to decide if it's best to stay in the wine area or in SB itself (want to see both).
KEC is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 05:25 PM
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If your primary focus is going to wineries then perhaps you'd want to stay at the Ballard Inn, Santa Ynez Inn or Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn(there's also a Fess Parker hotel in SB). The Simpson House and Harbor View both are in the city of Santa Barbara and you'd have more dining, shopping and entertainment options if you stayed in the city. The Simpson House is near downtown and is a very upscale B&B while the Harbor View is across from the beach and has a more "resorty" feel to it. Solvang is a Danish-style village and a bit too touristy for my tastes.
sequess is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 06:00 PM
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Are you good walkers? Or the type that would rather drive and park and drive and park every few blocks?
clarkgriswold is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 09:54 PM
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Solvang is very cute, but I don't think you would want to stay there. It's the type of place that might be nice for lunch and a stroll and to poke around in a few shops, but that's about it. I'd stay in SB or very close and just stop in at Solvang.
As far a winery tours go...remember, you still have to drive after you have had something to drink (they don't give you much at any one place). I'm not suggesting that you will be falling down drunk, but there is a comfort in having someone else drive for some people. That said, we usually try to limit our visits to 3-4 wineries per day and we drive ourselves. Start at the farthest one that you plan to visit and work your way back toward home. Hope this helps.
babs001 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 10:59 PM
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It is better to base yourself in SB for a better choice of activities and restaurants. We have stayed many times at The Villa Rosa, and it would fit your needs for a modest price, yet cozy, relaxing Inn. There are just 18 rooms. Depending on your budget you could upgrade to a Fireplace Suite, ocean view. They are a block from the ocean and Sterns Wharf. Someone at the desk will help you with arrangements for tours of the wineries. We did that one year. They will also suggest and make dinner reservations for you, should you want help.
MBnancy is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 03:11 PM
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If you decide on the wine country, the Fess Park Inn & Spa looked very nice when I peeked in there after our dinner at Los Olivos Cafe. I would love to stay here sometime! We wanted to be close to Stearn's, State St., the beach, etc. for our first visit to the area, but the wine country was also beautiful and relaxing! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 04:14 PM
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Thank you all SO MUCH! I am very, very excited for this trip. We are major travel lovers, and this will be our first romantic, adult trip since having a baby! Can't wait!

In answer to one of the questions, yes, we are major walkers. We usually like to walk to most places when we are on vacation (dinner, entertainment, etc). If we stay in the wine country, I would guess that we would eat at the Inn for most dinners so we don't have to drive after drinking wine with dinner.

If we stay in SB, we would like a good location that is walkable to lots of restaurants and things. I don't know about public transportation there, but we usually use it if it is available.

Another question: Should we take a day to drive up to Hearst Castle? Is it a beautiful drive or would it make our 3 days feel too hectic?

Thanks again for all of the wonderful suggestions...keep 'em coming
KEC is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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You could take a day for exploring Santa Barbara, a day for the Santa Ynez wine country, and a day for Hearst Castle, that would work.
But in that case, I'd probably change hotels each's close to a 2 hour drive from Santa Barbara to Hearst Castle.
Of the hotels you first mentioned, the only one I've stayed at is the Petersen Inn in Solvang (5 years ago), and it was Very Nice then, it had a very European feel to it, with a great breakfast, extremely comfortable beds, and clean, cozy rooms. The Simpson House and Santa Ynez Inn are on my dream list!
There are plenty of nice hotels in Cambria, close to Hearst Castle.

Whatever you do, have a wonderful time!
Little_Man is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 06:08 PM
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You will love SB, great town for walking. Walk from the hotel to the beach to the pier to shopping to theatres and back. Walk til you drop.

I second the Harbor View Inn. Less Expensive is

Solvang is a nice day trip, there is a large casino there if that interests you, and you can drive through the Santa Ynez valley to your heart's content. Be sure and see the movie SIDEWAYS before heading up there.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 08:40 PM
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I've lived in SB for 30 years. I suggest you check out the Upham Hotel ( It's a great b & b downtown Santa Barbara and is very charming. It has a great (grown-up) restaurant, Louie's, attached to it as well. It's one block off State Street (our main street) and close to theatres, shopping, restaurants, parks, and people-watching. It's not really close to the beach (1 mile or so) but in July the weather is better further up town due to heavy fog in the mornings.
The wine country is only 30 minutes away... Better off staying in town and making it a day trip.
Ask for Jan and tell her Suesan sent you!
Have fun!
toneupsb is offline  
Feb 10th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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Hello KEC: On the subject of whether to include Hearst's Castle...I think it is worth the drive, but I like touring places like that. They offer 4-5 different tours. Look at the web site. If you decide to go you can (and should) make reservations on the web. It is a bit of a drive but very pretty. You might want to leave Orange and head for Cambria (less than 10 minutes from San Simeon), staying the night. Cambria is very small, pretty, gorgeous coastline, a very good choice for a romantic break from baby. If you tour HC first thing in the morning (allow 2 hours per tour), by the time you drive back to SB(lunch along the way) it will be close to check-in time. This still gives you time to wander around or take a tour of SB, then have dinner, and still have another day for wine country.
babs001 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2005, 06:58 AM
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Thanks so much for that input. That is the kind of help that I need, since I don't know the area. Guidebooks can only offer so much help, but can't really tell you the type of info that you offered. I will look into Cambria. That sounds like a good plan. Maybe something like this:

Day 1- leave Orange early am
- scenic drive to Cambria (overnight)
Day 2- Hearst Castle tour
- drive to SB, lunch, check into hotel, walk around, tour SB, dinner, <maybe an evening boat cruise???>(overnight)
Day 3- Winery tour (overnight SB)
Day 4 - more SB, drive back to Orange

Does that sounds like a good plan?

THANKS AGAIN everyone. This has been so helpful!
KEC is offline  
Feb 11th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Kec: I think your tentative itinerary looks good. Nothing is rushed, you should be able to enjoy all. I have a preference for lodging on Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria. The little town is mainly on the east side of 101, but MSD is on the west side, right along the coast. All of the lodging is on the east side of the road, in other words, nothing is built water side. This may sound less than advantageous, but this way no one blocks anyone else's view. There is a boardwalk at the top of the bluff that is in very good condition, and there is beach access. Most of the motels/inns have websites. I looked around and can't put my hands on address right this minute, but try Cambria tourism or similar. Some units have water views, some don't. Almost everyone has fireplaces. We also had a private patio. There are two restaurants that are within walking distance. The Sea Chest (I think) is one. Think the other was Moonstone something. We enjoyed both places. The latter even has outdoor seating.
There are a couple of places that are actually located in San Simeon. One is a Best Western. It's on the beach side of the road. But even by being closer to HC and being beach side, it does not come close to the ambience of Moonstone Beach Drive. Hope this helps.
babs001 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2005, 10:21 AM
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I just remembered that I found the Cambria info through a link on the Hearst Castle web site.
babs001 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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Yes, the Sea Chest is very good if you like seafood. It is prepared very simply, but perfectly.

The Moonstone Bar & Grill is the other restaurant and it is also very good. We like to have lunch or breakfast there. The fish tacos are excellent, sit at "the rail" and take in the gorgeous views of Moonstone Beach.

We also very much like the Sow's Ear Cafe in Cambria. They are famous for their chicken fried steak which is one of my favorites, also the salmon in parchment paper is excellent. Stop in at Linn's Bakery for some ollalieberry treats. We keep a supply of their chicken pot pies on stock for the kids, I order them online.

The Tea Cozy is very quaint and nice for tea and sandwiches. A new place Madelaine's has recently opened where Sergio's used to be, has anyone been there recently?

If you like B&B's, check out the Blue Whale Inn in Cambria. The rooms don't have ocean views tho and no pool or jacuzzi.

My favorite property is the Cypress Cove Inn, get the oceanview/fireplace room. Very nice, and just steps away from the walking trail. ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Feb 12th, 2005, 10:30 AM
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One thing I would caution you about...look carefully at pictures on hotel/motels web sites. I don't know your tastes, but some of these places look like they have been decorated for Great Aunt Millie, not a couple! My husband will go along with just about anything (after all, I'm doing the work, he's along for the ride ) but I try to be mindful of how much pink and ruffles we're subjected to!! HA!
babs001 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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Yes, I know the Pelican Suites is very frilly, one of the reasons we haven't tried that place, tho it's supposedly very nice. The Cypress Cove Inn room we had was very tastefully decorated, no frills or ruffles. Very nice! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Feb 12th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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My coworker is staying at the Santa Ynez Inn this Sunday night for Valentines... I will send you a report this MOnday night!
moneygirl is offline  
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