Old Spanish Days Fiesta Parade, photo by Damian Gadal, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
There are plenty of sanctuaries within driving distance.
Santa Barbarans have a love/hate relationship with Fiesta. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of people and a lot of festivities to deal with for four days straight. If you start to feel like one more chorus of “La Bamba” will put you over the edge, read on for some cures for Fiesta fever.
The charms of Los Olivos are just a short drive away. For those who haven’t visited lately, Grand Avenue is indeed grand. Stop by the always delightful Persnickity (2900 Grand Ave.; 686.8955) for a wonderful selection of gift items, including vintage linens, birdhouses, ladies dresses and more.
Also worth a look are the Gallery Los Olivos (2920 Grand Ave.; 688.7517), which represents more than 40 regional artists, and the two Judith Hale Galleries (north at 2890 Grand Ave.; 688.1222, and south at 2884 Grand Ave.; 693.1233), an eclectic mix of Western and traditional artwork in all media, including bronze and stone sculpture, woodcarvings and jewelry.
Featuring the works of Santa Barbara artist Merv Corning, among others, is Young’s Gallery (2920 Grand Ave.; 688.9745), which specializes in original watercolors, oils and calligraphy.
A must for wine aficionados is the Arthur Earl tasting room (2921 Grand Ave.; 693.1771). Winner of the South Coast Beacon’s Savor Santa Barbara “people’s choice” tasting, this small winery produces only about 2500 cases a year.
Another small-yield vintner worth checking out is Andrew Murray Vineyards Tasting Room (2901 Grand Ave.; 686.9604), the only exclusively Rhone estate in Santa Barbara County.
Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant (2879 Grand Ave.; 688.7265) is great. The food is excellent and there’s also a nice selection of local wines by the glass and bottles to purchase.
Grand Avenue even has a four-star restaurant, the Vintage Room at Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn & Spa (2860 Grand Ave.; 688.7788.
After a visit to Los Olivos, you might want to go north to the Chumash Casino (3400 E. Highway 246), where there’s free live music every Friday and Saturday night, as well as a new resort hotel and spa.
Solvang, “the Danish capital of America,” is certainly an alternative to Old Spanish Days. No visit is complete without an aebleskiver — the Danish equivalent of the ubiquitous churro — available at any of the many bakeries in town. For theater fans, the PCPA features Bullshot Crummond, a takeoff on old “B” movies, running through Sunday. Call 922.8313 for ticket information and showtimes.
Nearby is Trattoria Grappalo (3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez; 688.6899) with its mouth-watering pastas and extensive wine list. If you’re feeling like a different kind of dining experience, the Chef’s Touch’s cooking class Saturday is “Married and Bored … Go to Dinner!” which features Thai food preparation and a meal. The cost is $45. Call 686.1040 for reservations.
For those looking to escape south, rather than north, there’s the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard (at the River Ridge Athletic Field on the corner of Ventura Road and Vineyard Avenue) from 9 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.
The Ventura County Fair is going on through Aug. 15 at Seaside Park (10 W. Harbor Blvd., 648.3376). There are arts and crafts, food, farm animals, carnival rides and games, a petting zoo and more. Events in the grandstand arena are free with admission and include Motorsports at 6 p.m. today; Brad Paisley, at 7:30 p.m. Friday; the Village People at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and … guess you can’t truly escape it … Fiesta Day at 3 p.m. Sunday.