19 New Ideas for What to Do in Santa Barbara and Ojai: A 48-Hour Staycation Itinerary

Santa Barbara_Helena Avenue Bakery_Staycation - Publicity - H 2016
Rob Stark/Courtesy of Helena Avenue Bakery

Santa Barbara_Helena Avenue Bakery_Staycation - Publicity - H 2016

THR's itinerary includes the best winery, Katy Perry's private bungalow, polo clubs (where Jason Segel and Sylvester Stallone have been spotted) and kid-friendly attractions.


BREAKFAST Longtime area denizen and Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith likes to start her day with breakfast at the locally loved Montecito Coffee Shop (1498 E. Valley Road; 805-969-6250), housed under the same roof as the San Ysidro Pharmacy. Smith is a fan of the pancakes with bacon and eggs. Her dinner favorites, in case you were wondering, include Carpinteria staple Giannfranco’s Trattoria: “It’s like being invited into someone’s home for delicious Italian food,” she says. 666 Linden Ave.; (805) 684-0720

FOR THE KIDS One hundred miles north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara has plenty of famous residents, but none older than “Sue,” the world’s largest and most-well-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex. A cast of Sue’s skeleton — 42 feet long and 12 feet high — is newly on display through Sept. 11 at the Mission Campus of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, also home to the equally Instagram-worthy “Chad,” a 73-foot-long blue whale skeleton. Private group tours of the museum can be reserved three weeks in advance. 2559 Puesta Del Sol; (805) 682-4711

LUNCH Pick up lunch-to-go at this summer’s highly anticipated Helena Avenue Bakery, the latest addition to the artsy district Funk Zone from Acme Hospitality, the force behind Santa Barbara dining institutions such as The Lark (fans include Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Conan O’Brien) and Lucky Penny (where Christopher Lloyd dines). Peruse the freshly prepared offerings at the Picnic Counter, including cold-fried chicken sandwiches on ciabatta or couscous salad with cherry tomatoes, alongside hot-from-the-oven baguettes, chile cheese and olive sourdoughs, and hand pies loaded with seasonal jam for a sweet finish. 131 Anacapa St., (805) 880-3383

WINERIES When it comes to exploring Santa Barbara wine country, SOMM wine documentary star and founder of the soon-to-launch Viticole wine club Brian McClintic suggests a visit to Santa Barbara’s own Whitcraft Winery (36A S. Calle Cesar Chavez; 805-730-1680). “Drake Whitcraft is building on his father's legacy of elegant, age-worthy pinot noir.” McClintic also is a fan of Tatomer Wines in Santa Maria, for purchase, not to taste, on tatomerwines.com: “Graham Tatomer fashions incredibly pure, dry riesling and gruner veltliner in a nod to the great wines of Austria.” Also on his must-buy list: Sandhi Wines in Lompoc (sandhiwines.com) for chardonnay: “The first time I had Sandhi, it was poured to me blind and I thought for sure it was white burgundy,” he says. All wines also are available at Les Marchands Wine Bar and Merchant in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. 131 Anacapa St.; (805) 284-0380

DINNER For the best cheeseburger in town, look no further than San Ysidro Ranch’s Plow & Angel in Montecito (900 San Ysidro Lane; 805-565-1720). “They also do truffle fries,” says Kendall Conrad, who has an outpost of her eponymous boutique in the Montecito Country Mart (1016 Coast Village Road). “It’s beautiful in the evening. Sit under the loquat trees on the lower terrace.”

STAY Chloe Sevigny, Santa Barbara homegrown talent Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans of Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara (1260 Channel Dr.; 805-969-2261), not only for its prime location on Butterfly Beach, but its newly unveiled, ultra-private bungalows (from $1,030), three of which boast plunge pools on their private patios. Checking in to these tony accommodations also guarantees access to the members-only, kid-friendly Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, including its Olympic-size swimming pool and the new Coral Reef Bar, home to 350 species of fish and the only of its kind in California. “The Coral Casino is like stepping back in time to glamour and class of yesteryear,” says Sevigny. “From the tower to the uniforms to the newly installed fish tank bar, it's utter perfection! Heaven on earth, the perfect antidote to L.A.’s hustle.” Others, including Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Aniston, favor the specialty suites (from $1,625) at Santa Barbara mainstay Belmond El Encanto, where they are greeted with monogrammed bed linens, personalized stationery and locally sourced wine. 800 Alvarado Pl.; (805) 845-5800



BREAKFAST William Baldwin swears by Savoy Cafe & Deli (24 W. Figueroa St.; 805-962-6611) for all meals, saying that both the breakfast burrito and the organic salad bar is “the best in Santa Barbara” and claims the pico de gallo is the best he’s ever had. There’s also the “insane sour cream cheesecake.” Designer Brit Elkin, who alongside her sister, Kara Smith, styles the likes of Emma Roberts, makes a point to visit Jeannine’s restaurant and bakery in Montecito (1253 Coast Village Road; 805-969-7878) when spending time at her family home in Santa Ynez. “The coffee is strong and delicious,” she says. Another favorite is the Valley Grind coffee house in Santa Ynez. “Kara and I have been going there for years. It’s like a cute little log cabin.” 3558 Sagunto St.; (805) 688-1506

HIKE Roughly two-thirds of Ojai Valley, about 2,000 acres, is pristine and protected public space, including dozens of miles of trails. Says Ojai resident Mary Steenburgen: “I first moved to Ojai in 1983. It is a place where all of the commercial sprawl that ruins most beautiful places has been mightily fought against and consequently, our beloved valley has changed less in the three decades that I have lived there than any other place I know.” Get to know the lay of the land via the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, a nonprofit that manages the area and offers a handy app for exploring miles of self-guided hiking trails criss-crossing the preserves. ovlc.org/trailfinder/

LUNCH After riding his horse, Tab Hunter — who most recently starred in 2015 documentary feature Tab Hunter Confidential — heads to Stacky’s Seaside beach shack in Summerland for fish ’n’ chips. “Tab is such a regular they placed a poster from Tab’s film Ride the Wild Surf on the wall,” says Glaser, also his partner of more than 30 years. 2315 Lillie Ave.; (805) 969-9908

POLO On Sundays from May through October, expect to find the likes of Jason Segel, Alan Thicke and Sylvester Stallone stomping the divots at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club’s weekly polo tournaments. Rub shoulders with star players including Nacho Figueras inside the historic clubhouse with VIP Posh Polo Lounge tickets ($35), or splurge on a field-side cabana for you and up to nine of your friends, complete with a dedicated server and two bottles of sparkling wine ($500). 3375 Foothill Road, #1200; (805) 684-6683

DINNER Chef Vincent Lesage is helming the stoves at the new Angel Oak restaurant at Bacara Resort and Spa, turning out steak and seafood against panoramic views of the Pacific. Lesage suggests snagging a spot at the ocean-facing communal table while indulging in offerings from the custom meat program including the $20-per-ounce AAAAA certified Kobe steak or the equally decadent, shareable 30 ounce tomahawk, paired with selections by general manager and sommelier Branden Bridwell from the 12,000-bottle cellar. 8301 Hollister Ave.; (844) 276-0955

FOR THE KIDS Summer fruit cobbler, peach sorbet and pistachio amaretto are a few of the new flavors at family-owned McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, which has been scooping made-from-scratch ice creams in Santa Barbara since 1949 for everyone from chef Marcus Samuelsson to Barbra Streisand, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Store locator: mcconnells.com

DRINKS End your stay with a tipple at the Outpost in The Goodland Hotel in nearby Goleta, a favorite of Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive director Roger Durling. It’s a great mix of locals and out of town people,” says During. “I order a martini with three olives.” 5650 Calle Real; (805) 964-6241