Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful destinations in California, nicknamed the American Riviera. Located along the Pacific Coast and only 92 miles north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is the perfect weekend destination. We take the Amtrak Surfliner to Santa Barbara and explore the fun activities that the city offers, including the Cabrillo Bike Path, Urban Wine Trail, State Street, historic Spanish colonial architecture, Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Santa Barbara Travel Vlog:
Here are the top 10 sights to visit during your trip:
1. Bike Rentals: One of best ways to see Santa Barbara is by bike. We rented bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals, which has hourly and daily bike rentals and a variety of fun bikes. We rode along the Cabrillo Bike Path, which is a scenic ride along the Pacific Ocean.
2. Santa Barbara Museum of Art: Enjoy the art scene at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which contains galleries of American, impressionist (Van Gogh and Monet), photographic art, and much more.
3. Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail - The perfect pairing to your visit to Santa Barbara is a glass of the local wine from the renowned wineries. Downtown Santa Barbara has many wine bars and tasting rooms where you can sample the wine from the nearby vineyards.
4. Street Art - The downtown of Santa Barbara has plentiful street art that changes all the time. Walk through the alleyways and streets to find it!
5. Santa Barbara Zoo: Santa Barbara has one of the best small zoos in the nation! Check out the exhibits ranging from gorillas, elephants, lions, giraffes, and penguins. You can even get up-close to the animals with the close encounters tours where you can participate in feeding the animals.
6. Sunday Arts & Crafts Show - Every Sunday since 1965, the city holds an Arts & Crafts show in front of the pier. Local artists display their works of art, including handmade creations and paintings of Santa Barbara. If you are looking for a unique local gift, you will find it here.
7. Santa Barbara Courthouse - One of the best things about Santa Barbara is the architecture. The courthouse is a prime example of the Spanish architecture found here, and you can even get panoramic views from the top floor of the bell tower.
8. Santa Barbara Skate Park - The skate park is located along the Cabrillo Bike Path and is a great way to catch the vibes of the local Southern California culture.
9. Santa Barbara Pier - One of the most iconic attractions in Santa Barbara is the pier. The pier is the perfect place to enjoy the ocean views and even visit a wine bar (yes - there is a tasting room on the pier) or enjoy delicious seafood.
10. State Street - One of the best reasons to visit Santa Barbara is for the food! Along State Street, you will find some of the best restaurants in town, and ice cream - including local favorite - McConnells. Many of the restaurants feature al fresco dining and entertainment.
A few months before our visit, the Santa Barbara county experienced devastating mudslides and fires. One of the best ways to support the community in the recovery efforts is through tourism and patronage of the local businesses. The community is stronger than ever and there is no better time to visit Santa Barbara. A convenient way to reach Santa Barbara is via Amtrak Surfliner, which offers service to the downtown. From the train station, you can walk or bike to each of the locations on this list.
What is your favorite thing to see in Santa Barbara? Comment below!
A trip to the Emerald Isle of Ireland is not complete without a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Belfast is only a short two hour bus ride from Dublin and has transformed over the last few decades, making it one of the most enriching and educational cities. Whether you are a history buff, film fanatic (Game of Thrones is filmed here), or art lover, you will find it here. Here are the top places to explore in Belfast on a weekend trip.
Watch the Belfast travel vlog:
Where to Stay: Ten Square Hotel
First stop is to check into our hotel, Ten Square Hotel, which is conveniently located next to the city's center point - the historic City Hall. The hotel has one of most comfortable beds, free wifi, and includes continental breakfast. If you are looking for a skyline view, the hotel's terrace overlooks the city center.
1. Peace Walls
For an educational and artistic way to enjoy the city, check out the Peace Walls, which are murals that showcase the city's past and future. The murals are found along Shankill and Falls roads. The older murals tend to contain political messages while the more recent murals opt for messages of humor and peace. You can tour the Peace walls by foot, Black Cab Tour, or the hop on hop off bus.
2. Titanic Museum
A visit to the Titanic Museum is a must see for visitors to learn the history of Belfast. The city's economy was based on ship building. Most notably, the Titanic was built here and was the largest ship afloat at the time. The museum tells the story of the ill-fated voyage with highly interactive exhibits, including a theme-park-style ride through a shipyard.
3. Game of Thrones!
Outside of the Titanic Museum is the filming studio for Game of Thrones which is in the unmistakable yellow and silver building. Many of the sights featured int he HBO series are filmed in Northern Ireland. There are tours of the filming locations which draw top photographers to the area as well as fans of the show.
4. Belfast Free Walking Tour
If you are a budget traveler, you will find plenty to do in Belfast. Belfast is filled with free activities, including one of the most educational activities - the Belfast Free Walking Tour. The small group tours are casual and informal, led by local historians who show you the important sights to Belfast's history and tell stories about each location. The tour showed the history from a local's perspective. Our tour guide, Gavin grew up in Belfast and watched the city transform to what it is today. It truly brought the city's history to life.
5. St George's Market
This lively market is the perfect place to sample the foodie delights of Northern Ireland. The building was built in the late 1800s and is filled with delicious food, crafts, antiques, and occasionally even live music. Outside of the St. George's Market, Belfast has historic pubs, Michelin star restaurants to satisfy foodie travelers.
Aside from my hometown of Los Angeles, Belfast is one of the top cities for street art. The city is filled with art on the facades of many buildings - all you have to do is walk around the city center to find them. Start at the MAC Belfast, which is a main hub for beautiful murals.
Belfast is one of the most historic, educational, and artistic cities that we have visited in Europe. What is your favorite thing to see in Belfast? Comment below!
This weekend, we visited the Palm Spring's Modernism Week, which celebrates the city's artistic and architectural treasures. Each February, the city of Palm Springs showcase the modernist movement with over 350 events, including bike tours, bus tours, and museum exhibits. With so many events to choose from, we count down the top 5 sights to see while you are in town.
Palm Springs Modernism Week Travel vlog:
Here are the highlights from Modernism Week:
1. Modernist Architecture - Door Tour
When I heard that there was a " Door Tour " I wasn't sure what to expect. We started at the Saguaro Hotel, a colorful hotel that organized a self-guided bike tour of the city's most colorful modernist houses. They gave us a map of the houses with the most colorful doors. It was like being on a treasure hunt to find each one. The colors were painted with vibrant Dunn Edwards paint, from bright yellow, magenta, to lime green, which made for instagrammable photo opportunities.
2. Saguaro Hotel -
After the bike tour, we checked into the Saguaro Hotel where we were treated to a complementary margarita at the Jefe Bar for completing the Door Tour. The hotel is one of the most instagrammable locations in Palm Springs, known for it's brightly colored exterior, fun pool, boutique style, and modern architecture.
3. Wexler Glass House -
We also toured Donald Wexler's (modernist architect) first custom house called the Glass House. The house was done in stunning modernist style which took advantage of the beautiful view of the hills and pool.
4. Downtown Palm Springs -
This past year, the downtown Palm Springs area underwent a revitalization effort and many new shops, restaurants and hotels were added along the boulevard.
5. Palm Springs Art Museum -
Palm Springs Art Museum is one of the best was to learn about the modernist movement and view the exhibits from this time period.
We hope you get a chance to visit Palm Springs Modernism Week. It is a fun and unique way to experience the city and celebrate modernism.
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