Santa Barbara Bucket List

Santa Barbara Bucket List title=
Santa Barbara Bucket List
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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
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14 Comments

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Flicka Aug 21, 2017 07:57 AM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

MURGATROID, your suggestions are definitely a "vintage night out", going back at least to the 1950s. Thanks for the memories!

mjford Aug 21, 2017 03:55 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

I never heard of this place. Do you know what the rules/times are if I want to go for meditation?

xamnidar Aug 20, 2017 10:16 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

Although this isn't strictly speaking in Santa Barbara, one thing I highly recommend doing before you leave is watching a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (about 1 hour from SB). There's only a few places in the world where you can watch a satellite go up into space.

mjford Aug 21, 2017 08:13 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

I've been wanting to go there too! I'll look at their schedule.

mtndriver Aug 20, 2017 09:47 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

Hikes! Rattlesnake, Tunnel trail, Jesusita, Cold Springs. Up to La Cumbre Peak, get the big view. Go to the Channel Islands, camp on Santa Cruz. Whale watching in winter-spring. Farmer's market downtown Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoon. Burger at the Paradise Cafe.

420722 Aug 20, 2017 09:33 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

Be in the solstice parade with your fiancé! That will be a great memory of Santa Barbara!

REX OF SB Aug 20, 2017 06:15 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

Wow, Michael, that is a GREAT list! You've already covered a great many bases. As a regular Monday Night Trivia player at the Uptown Lounge, I urge you to come back. With your knowledge of things, I'll bet you do well at trivia. We need all the competition we can get. And as you know, the Uptown is a great place to…well…lounge. Here are some other ideas: • A tour on the Land Shark. Seriously. I'm usually not a fan of touristy things, but the Land Shark gives you a view of lower and downtown Santa Barbara from way up high. The driver and…conductor?…are knowledgeable about most things local, and it's fun when the vehicle actually goes into the sea for a harbor tour. The Land Shark is probably the best local amusement bang for the buck there is. • Hanging out at the Cold Spring Tavern. The bikers that take over Cold Spring Tavern on weekends are the nicest bunch of people you could hope to meet and are positively guaranteed not to kill you, despite the appearance of some of them. (That tattooed Harley rider in full leather might be a dentist from Encino). • A visit to the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf. It helps if you can find a little kid or two to bring with you, to share in their sense of wonderment as they get to examine little trays of sea flora and fauna that were just picked up from the ocean directly beneath them. • Breakfast at the Mesa Cafe, involving a tri-tip, tomato and jalapeño omelet, with cornbread on the side, accompanied by a Jake's Super bloody mary. Breakfast just doesn't get much better than that. • Bicycling or walking through the Santa Barbara Cemetery. I mean, if you're into that kind of thing. Which I am. • A docent-guided tour of the Courthouse. You will earn all sorts of things. And the view from the Courthouse tower can't be missed. Is there a reason you have to leave SB when you complete your studies? You sound like the very sort of person who SHOULD stay here.

mjford Aug 21, 2017 12:59 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

I could figure it all out still. Thanks for the suggestions. We would really want to go to Uptown more often but most of the time don't get off work in time. I've done the Land Shark as a group event. The tour guide doesn't really give much info in those. We've also done Cold Spring Tavern. Definitely want to go again though. Haven't done the Sea Center yet. Breakfast at Mesa will be done, but I like the suggestion for what to order. I'll try it! And I will have to look up the cemetery. Sounds interesting. We have been to the courthouse but not on a guided tour. Thanks again!

REX OF SB Aug 20, 2017 06:16 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

So much for formatting! Isn't there a way we can write in paragraphs?

Murgatroid Aug 20, 2017 05:09 PM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

How about the Trolley of Lights Tour with hot toddy s? A vintage night out with classic cocktails at Harry's and dinner at the Tee-Off? Kitchy! Breakfast at Sambo's?

mjford Aug 21, 2017 08:09 AM
Santa Barbara Bucket List

Great suggestions! I always miss out on the Trolley of Lights. Will get it this year for sure. And I love the idea of a vintage night. Thanks! Also, Sambo's should be on the list. Haven't gone yet and definitely want to.

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