When Contour Airlines announced it was coming to Sacramento International Airport (SMF) with nonstop service to Santa Barbara, we jumped at the chance to experience the airline as soon as possible! Conveniently, one of my husband’s industry partners scheduled a trip that included spouses which allowed us to check out the 56-minute flight that makes you feel like you are flying private with 28 of your closest friends. The new schedule offers daily nonstop flights to Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) operating from Terminal B with a 30-seat Embraer E-135 regional jet airplane. It truly is the best way to get to Santa Barbara, especially if you are staying at the Bacara.
The Ritz Carlton Bacara is one of our favorite travel destinations. The hotel welcomes visitors with five-star amenities, scenic ocean views and easy access to the region’s vineyards, restaurants, shops and attractions. Find inspiration within perfectly framed views of the Pacific from your guest room balcony, relax with a wellness therapy at the spa or get a different perspective on California as you embark on a sailing expedition. Whatever you choose, it will be restorative and relaxing.
Olive Oil Blending in the Angel Oak Cellar with Solvang Olive Press: Olive Oil Master, Michael Mendizza, claims, “The more you know the better everything tastes.” And I have to agree! Once our curious crew tasted the difference in the quality of olive oil, we then asked “How do I incorporate all these amazing flavors and health benefits into my families daily life?” Not only did mixing-and-matching of oils and vinegars help us navigate the answer, the Essential Guide to Pairing and Sharingprovided the foundation for anything we may want to cook. This simple guide is packed with the essential information to inspire your table and your life with the “best in the world” flavor combinations. I would usually lean on Herbs de Provence and Sicilian Lemon flavors but challenged myself going home with Harissa Olive Oil and Coconut Balsamic for an exotic twist.
Santa Ynez Wine Tasting Tour: Nestled in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley appellation, this region shares vineyard space with horse ranches. Anchored by the town of Santa Ynez to the southeast which itself includes tasting opportunities, many of the wineries in this region are set on their estate properties. Peaceful and rolling vistas of ranches and farms mingle with vineyards and tasting rooms along the country roads. Grab a picnic lunch at one of the local delis, as many of the tasting rooms in the Santa Ynez area feature gardens and picnic areas where you can taste at a leisurely, ranch-style pace.
Montecito Mountain Hike: Re-opened after the December 2017 the Thomas Fire Closure, be sure to use caution around loose soils, rolling rocks, and unstable portions of the Montecito Hot Springs Trail. Starting from the trailhead for the Hot Springs Trail off of Mountain Drive, the path steadily climbs up a forested stretch of land that is surrounded by numerous private residences. 1/4 of a mile into the trail, you’ll be removed from all of the houses, and the trail bends to the right to enter the canyon just before crossing Hot Springs Creek. Then, you’ll join up with a dirt road that climbs up the canyon along the east wall. Try this trail for a fun yet challenging hike that features the ruins of an old traveler’s resort, natural towering trees, coastal views, and of course some hot springs. Don’t be afraid to wander off trail for some bouldering and exploring along the way.
Evening Aboard the Channel Cat: If you’re looking for a truly amazing and luxurious on-the-water event, look no further than the Channel Cat. One of the most opulent vessels in Santa Barbara Harbor, this incredible 85-foot catamaran has everything you can imagine for the perfect wedding, party, sunset cruise or corporate event. Enjoy unsurpassed handcrafted details, three levels, 3000 square feet of space, a full bar, library, media room and so much more. Although the Channel Cat owner, Charlie Munger, who is Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman, lives in Los Angeles, he comes to Santa Barbara frequently, using the Channel Cat for family and friends judiciously. This makes the Channel Cat is available for 200 charter events a year, with the stipulation that some of those charters must be for charities identified by Charlie Munger,
most of which benefit the community.
SIP + EAT
Dinner on the Bluffs: Sharing the edge of a 330-acre preserve along the Santa Barbara Coast, the Bluffs at Bacara offers a unique setting, bordered on three sides by the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sandpiper Golf Course. This setting offers walking paths with wildflowers and birds, ocean breezes, and the privacy of the Ritz Carlton.
Loquita: Loquita showcases authentic Spanish food including hot and cold tapas, wood-fired grilled seafood and meats, and seasonal paella. The Mediterranean climate and terroir of Santa Barbara County mirror that of Spain, making the translation of locally sourced produce, meats and seafood an ideal match. The wine list is comprised almost entirely of Spanish wines with exceptional local wines that pair well with the cuisine. Loquita’s cocktail list showcases Spanish vermouths, farmers’ market Sangria, hand-crafted cocktails and my favorite, the Ibiza.
Hotel Californian: Featuring Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and modern Moorish themed interior décor from celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Hotel Californian is the new center of the Santa Barbara waterfront. Incorporating the façade of the original 1925 Hotel Californian, this 121-room seaside destination features a rooftop pool and event deck providing panoramic views of the coastline and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Located steps from the beach and in the middle of Santa Barbara’s vibrant Funk Zone, the Hotel Californian includes a luxurious Turkish-inspired spa, fashion boutique and fresh and distinctive dining options. We so enjoyed our time in their Djinn Library Bar.
O’Malleys’s Bar: One look inside, and you’ll know that O’Malley’s is serious about sports. That’s just fine with the clientele, who are largely college students looking for a fun evening out. This downtown venue is a great gathering spot for 20-somethings, and in our case 40 and 50-somethings who want to partake in a late night socializing while catching the score of the big game and watching old school videos on the overhead televisions. When the night descends, dancing becomes commonplace. Come early, meet up with friends, and then boogie your cares away.