Santa Barbara Bucket List
By Michael Ford
I want to solicit Santa Barbara-specific bucket list suggestion from Edhatters. I am a graduate student, and I am about 12 months from finishing my studies and leaving this place that very few are lucky enough to call home. I have been fully taking advantage of my time here, I think, but I want to make sure I make the most of the remaining time.
I wrote up my own bucket list that contains things that I’ve done and really love, and some things that I’ve never done but would love to try. I would also like to hear what others would add to their bucket list. I am of the millennial generation, so my idea of fun might be different from those of other generations or even from those who grew up in the same era but are of different backgrounds. Even if you think your suggestions won’t click with mine, please add it anyway! I’d love to hear what people think is quintessentially Santa Barbara.
- Beach day ending with Lilly's tacos
I think this was one of the first things my fiancée and I ever did in Santa Barbara. We had a few friends living here already and spent an exhausting day at the beach. Nothing could hit the spot better than the simplicity of meat and tortillas from Lilly’s.
- Picnic at dusk at the Mission Rose Garden
We live close enough to do this every once in a while, but probably not as much as we should. I always enjoy watching the groups of tourists and locals mingle by the Mission and in the garden as the sun sets.
- East Beach volleyball
We have a dog, so we don’t do this as much as I’d like since he isn’t supposed to join us on East Beach. At least one more time before I leave though…
- Sunrise at Inspiration Point
While I’ve done the quick trek up to Inspiration Point many times, I haven’t been there early enough to catch the sun rising over the coast.
- Bike through Elings Park
Still haven’t made it into Elings Park. I think it would be fun to bike around and check it out. Maybe head to Hendry’s Beach after.
- Sunset wine drinking on the wharf
Deep Sea tasting room is dog-friendly and has pretty good views. Surprisingly, we’ve found it pretty empty even on Saturday evenings.
- Harbor kayak ride
Just a fun way to enjoy the Santa Barbara sun and check out the harbor.
- Fiesta Cruiser Ride
Did this this year, so it’s already checked off the list, but I would do it again if we are here during Fiesta still next year.
- Sunset at Franceschi Park
If you’ve never been able to see the city from Franceschi Park, I would highly recommend it. I did some exploring when I first moved here, taking nightly walks with my dog into the Riviera. I was happy to stumble upon Francechi Park, where I’ve revisited often.
- Funk zone day trip - try a few different wineries
Not a hard thing to accomplish in the next year, but definitely worth having on here.
- Sunrise at the wharf
We can see the sunrise sometimes from our apartment in the Lower Riviera. The only thing that could make it better would be a view unobstructed by houses.
- Leadbetter evening skimboarding in September followed by Noodle City and Merc Lounge
This one is a little specific for me I think. My friends and I had the best time at Leadbetter in September my first year here. Now they’ve mostly moved out of SB, but I’m still here. On cold evenings in September, the warmth of the Pho broth from Noodle City fills you up, and just one beer from Merc Lounge is enough to get good feelings tingling.
- Happy hour at Sand Bar
They say it’s the best happy hour. Not a big fan of Sand Bar usually, but the happy hour is a pretty good deal. And finding myself on State Street during happy hour can’t be so bad.
- Uptown Lounge trivia
We had a streak going where we were regulars at Uptown, but schedules got a little busy. Still would like one more try at winning a free round of drinks (probably won’t ever come close to the jackpot.)
- Read a book at Orpet Park
Another one that is specific to my own interests/location. Orpet Park is within walking distance, and any park in any city would do. But Orpet Park Sunday Picnics are part of those special memories that I share with my fiancée. We would usually bring a good book to tuck into and read until it was too cold or too dark.
- First Thursday wine tasting followed by Bike Moves
We’ve done First Thursday, the art and wine walk around State Street, and we’ve done Bike Moves, the less classier but fun-in-its-own-right hooligan ride up and down State Street. I think there’s enough time to do them both, but I still haven’t tried that.
- Bocce ball at Arnoldi's
I love the aesthetic of Arnoldi’s; the old brick, red door, and classic 7-Up signs bordering the doorways. Inside is a little fancier, and the food isn’t too bad either. The one time we went, we didn’t get to check out the back like I wanted to because there was a private party. So I’ll have to go again.
- Sunken Garden movie at the courthouse
This one could be checked off just about every week during the summer, as we rarely miss the movies as long as we are in town. But there will be one last movie that I will see, and I’ll be remembering that one well.
- Drunken night with a stop at Elsie's and ending at Wildcat
Elsie’s is probably my favorite place for a relaxing drink with friends, and Wildcat is probably the best place to end up when the night nearly gets out of hand.
- Gio’s pizza to go and a dog walk through Douglas Preserve
Dog required for this one, pizza is optional. Actually Douglas Preserve is nice enough to go at sunset without a dog, but the pup makes it even more worth the trip. He gets to say hi to all his friends, so he’s happy about that. And we can sit Cliffside and have a few slices while the sun sets.
- Hendry's beach day/dog day with burgers from Boathouse window
Another good day for the dog at Hendry’s beach. Getting burgers from the window makes our load onto the beach a little lighter since we don’t have to bring our own food, and it just feels right to have something grilled at the beach.
- Sunday art walk on Cabrillo
A quick stroll seaside is a nice way to spend a Sunday morning, and we don’t find ourselves here nearly enough.
- Parade of Lights at the Harbor
In the four years I’ve lived here, I’ve only been down to the harbor for this even just once. I would like to get a good viewing spot on a boat or right next to the water this time though.
- Stroll through Botanical Garden
Done this once, but not much was growing in the winter we went. I would like to try this again too.
- Walk in the Summer Solstice parade
This is something I always talk up as something fun to do, and I can’t seem to convince my fiancée to join me. I think she’s wearing down though.
- Movie at Riviera Theater
Since we live just a few blocks away, it’s surprising we’ve never been. But this little theater is tucked away and I rarely think about it. It does seem to play some unique movies, so I’ll need to go sometime.
- Avocado festival in Carpinteria
We’ve gone every year since we’ve moved. Just in the last two years we learned that the best way to enjoy the festival is to head to the guacamole contest where, after the judging, audience members get free tastings and can also pick their own favorite.
- Beer festival at Elings Park
One good way to enjoy Elings Park, I think, would be at the SB beer festival. It seems like we always have something going on during the weekend of the festival, but this year we should be able to make it.
- Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl
We’ve done a couple concerts already. The best part about the bowl for us: it’s within walking distance. No need to catch a cab, and no need to worry about parking. Just stroll over at the last minute.
- Easter sunrise hike, lunch in Los Olivos
I’ve done Grass Mountain the past two Easters and made it up as one of the first hikers. I would like to keep this tradition going, either on the same trail or perhaps up to a different peak.
- Wine tasting in Solvang, grab some carrot cake
Solvang is a great little getaway. Although much of what you can do, you can also do in Santa Barbara, the ambiance is definitely a little different. Plus, Birkholm’s has the best carrot cake I’ve ever had (and I don’t even really care for carrot cake.)
- Cheese and wine at Knapp's Castle
I’ve done the short trek to Knapp’s Castle a few times, but never at a time appropriate for a nice bottle of wine paired with a good block of cheese and some crackers.
- Zoo Brew
Good amount of beer for the price, and admission to the zoo included in the ticket.
- Free day at Lotusland
Done this on my own once, but I need to take my fiancée with me a second time. Really enjoyed hearing the history of Lotusland.
- SBIFF at the Arlington
Any chance to see unique movies at the Arlington, I can’t pass up.
- Yoga followed by Lunch at Brasil Arts Café
My fiancée is a member at a CorePower gym, always trying to get me to go. She’ll sometime send pictures of her lunch afterwards, sometimes at BAC. I’ll need to join her once before we leave.
- Hendry's evening beach stroll with cups of chowder from Boathouse
A cold evening on the beach is remedied by cups of chowder, really great chowder, from Boathouse. Ask to get bread too; it’s soft and ready to be sopped.
- Zodo's bowling and beer
You can bowl in just about any town, I guess, but why not find an excuse for bowling and beer.
- Leadbetter to Hendry's beach run
It’s not a long run, but the tide just needs to be low enough. If the sun is out, it always feels good to splash along the skim.
- Santa Barbara farmer's market day and fresh dinner
You can make a whole meal out of what you pick up at the farmer’s market. We did that once, and so we’ll have to try something new the next time around.
- Channel Islands visit
I don’t want to miss out on this. I haven’t been across the channel, but I’ve seen beautiful photos and stunning documentaries. I really want to do this just once.
I also have been thinking about specific restaurants I want to go to, but I haven’t given that as much thought. Here are the ones I have so far. Again, some I’ve tried and some I haven’t yet. Feel free to offer other suggestions!
- Paseo Nuevo brunch
- Holdren's dinner
- Chicken Ranch BBQ dinner
- Zaytoons outside dinner
- Boathouse lunch
- Scarlett Begonia brunch
- Biltmore brunch
- Bacara dinner
- Renaud's breakfast
- Chubbie's burger
- Rudy's lunch
- Crushcakes lunch and a cupcake
- La Super-Rica
- Goodland Kitchen
- The Country burgers
- Los Agaves dinner
- The Palace dinner
- Mesa Cafe brunch
- Enterprise Fish Co.
- McConnell's ice cream