Santa Barbara Beautiful
When it comes to enjoying our gorgeous city, the options truly are endless. One of the best ways to soak in the soul of Santa Barbara is to get out on the water. In the early winter months, Condor Express whale-watching charters follow migrating California Gray Whales as they pass through the channel (805/882-0088, condorexpress.com) and Adventure Sailing Charters (805/794-8703, adventuresailingventura.com)offers boats to the Channel Islands, as well as surf trips.
Landlubbers will love a membership to Lotusland, which provides priority access to 37 acres of spectacular collections of exotic plants (805/969-9990, lotusland.org). Members of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (805/682-4726, sbbg.org) not only get free entry to this living museum, but also support the garden’s mission of conservation, education and scientific research. Garden lovers, not to mention history buffs and architecture aficionados, will love a tour of the historic Casa del Herrero (805/565-5653, casadelherrero.com), an elegant Montecito estate and National Historic Landmark. For a truly adventurous gift, take to the skies with Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours (805/845-4500, helicoptertoursofsantabarbara.com), offering wine tours, whale watching trips and Channel Islands flights.
Wine and Dine
Oenophiles will appreciate the plethora of tasting and transportation options offered by Wine Canyon Tours (805/453-7047, winecanyontours.com), Sustainable Vine Wine Tours (805/698-3911, sustainablevine.com) and Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours (805/646-3200, ccjeeps.com), among others. Got a sweet tooth? Santa Barbara Adventure Co.’s Tasty Cupcake and Wine Tour (805/884-9283, sbadventureco.com) is simply delicious.
The Show Must Go On
Why not treat that special someone to passes for Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 30–Feb. 9 (805/963-0023, sbiff.org) and offers a variety of packages that include movie tickets, parties and tributes and awards ceremonies. Classical music aficionados will love series tickets to Santa Barbara Symphony (805/898-9386, thesymphony.org), the “Met Live In HD Series” at Music Academy of the West (805/695-7931, musicacademy.org) or CAMA’s International Series (805/ 966-4324, camasb.org). If the play’s the thing, then the Broadway Series at The Granada is just the ticket (805/899-2222, granadasb.org) for big musical performances, while the black-box intimacy of Center Stage Theater (805/963-8198, centerstagetheater.tix.com) hosts a terrific variety of plays and performances, including the locals’ favorite Speaking of Stories (805/963-0408, speakingofstories.org) reader theater series.
Catch Some Culture
Museum memberships make great gifts. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (805/963-4364, sbma.net) members have access to the museum’s renowned exhibitions, grand opening events and other special activities, as well as a connection to a vibrant community of art lovers. MCASB (805/966-5373, mcasantabarbara.org) also cultivates a unique arts community. Its members form a society of contemporary art lovers, patrons and artists who actively participate in the intellectual and artistic life of the museum. Another great way to catch some culture is via UCSB Arts and Lectures Series (805/893-3535, artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu), which has about a dozen terrific ticket series to choose from—or you can build your own.
The gift of physical fitness is a gift that keeps on giving. Why not give golf lessons (805/968-1541, sandpipergolf.com), try stand up paddle boarding (805/881-2115, supadventuressb.com), or yoga at Core Power Yoga (805/884-9642, corepoweryoga.com) or Yoga Soup (805/965-8811, yogasoup.com). Los Padres Outfitters offers beach horseback rides, day rides or pack trips for horse lovers (805/331-5961, lospadresoutfitters.com), while Rancho Oso (805/683-5110, rancho-oso.com) in the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains is a great place for beginning riders to get comfortable with gentle horses and on guided trail rides.
Learn to paint (and sip local wine) at The Painted Cabernet (805/963-9979, paintedcabernet.com), a perfect place for a date-night gift. Market Forays cooking classes and culinary adventures are also a great gift for someone who would enjoy a guided shopping tour through local farmers’ markets and the fisherman’s market, followed by a hands-on cooking class and five-course feast (805/259-7229, marketforays.com). Brooks Institute Extension (805/690-7629, workshops.brooks.edu) offers a variety of excellent workshops for photographers of every level to improve their skills.
Originally published in the Winter 2013/14 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.