A Romantic Weekend Retreat in Santa Barbara Wine, adventure and memories in the American Riviera

cnr_ex_001Visitors travel to Santa Barbara, often called the American Riviera, from all over the globe to experience remarkable Central Coast weather and wine, paired with world-class shopping, entertainment, surf and adventuring. For a weekend away with your significant other, it’s a romantic getaway with a lot to offer.

To make the most of a weekend in Santa Barbara that leaves you both refreshed and personally enriched, pack a little bit of everything into your visit.

A short drive up the scenic 101 is a cure for the typical vacation travel drudgery. When you pull into town, you won’t be too beat to hit the pavement for an afternoon and evening of merrymaking.

Because we knew that our lodgings would be as much a part of our getaway as our wanderings, we chose Canary Santa Barbara (www.canarysantabarbara.com) for its central downtown location, dazzling array of delicious experiences – from farm fresh cuisine to world-class local wine, stunning views and unexpected amenities.

Couple-with-BikesSanta Barbara is famous for its love of teeny tiny carbon footprints. Once you’re settled at your lodgings, freshened up and ready for some time on the town, you’ll find that going car free is easy as a good merlot. Find a copy of the Santa Barbara Car Free Map (santabarbarcarfree.org) and electric shuttle it, pedicab it, bus it or simply hoof it – or rent a pair of bikes on property and free wheel it around town.

A visit to Santa Barbara wouldn’t be much of a visit without taking serious stock of the region’s vintage, but driving to the many wineries is a sizeable commitment of time and doesn’t play too well into the whole “car free” thing. On the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, you can take in the cityscape as you amble and ramble from tasting room to tasting room representing twelve premier Santa Barbara wineries – no car needed. After toasting your time together, choose a bottle to indulge in back at home and make your way back to the Canary for dinner at Finch & Fork – where our dining experience was all about “la vida local.” You can always tell a great eatery when it’s a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Because location matters in more than just real estate – it’s absolutely essential when talking about food and wine. The menu features “New American dishes” that start with just-caught seafood fresh from the Pacific and because of an abundance of farmers market fresh produce, grass-fed beef and other artisanal products sourced so close to home, prepare your palate for an “absolute joyride.”

Finch-&-ForkFor starters, the Sunchoke & Spinach Schmear, which was delicious with house-smoked salmon, pecans, capers and brioche toast and the Kale salad was a flavorful blend of Feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, mustard croutons, radish creamy lemon dressing.

For the main course, the Ribeye was grilled to perfection and accompanied by Trumpet mushrooms, cipollini onions and chimichurri fingerling potatoes and a popular pick is the Prosciutto flatbread topped with shaved asparagus, arugula, parmigiano and organic crushed tomatoes.

As the major cultural center of California between Los Angeles and San Francisco, you could fill several days in Santa Barbara with historical, cultural and artistic discovery. Visit Mission Santa Barbara; take a stroll down Stearns Wharf; savor sunset from the bluffs of the Douglas Family Reserve; take the Red Tile Walking Tour and experience some of the oldest still-standing sites and structures of the Spanish-Mexican era. Santa Barbara is also home to upwards of 50 museums and art galleries and the longest-running theater in California.

If your feet get too sore to see all the sites; if you eat (or drink) too much to make an early start every morning; or if you take too much time strolling the beach and miss a few intended museum or shop visits, don’t sweat it. Santa Barbara is a destination to explore again and again, and will always be right around the corner from the OC for another romantic retreat.

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