48 Hours in Santa Barbara

48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete


When I left my corporate job, one of the things that I thought I would have a ton of flexibility to do was travel. If only there was a list of misconceptions that people have when starting their own businesses. Yes, I definitely have much more freedom now, but leaving town for more than a few days is harder than ever. Your business can’t just stop running if you leave for a while, so it’s actually quite a bit of work to take those 1-2 week vacays.

Because of that, my husband and I have gotten pretty good at doing local weekend trips instead. If it’s less than a 3 hour trip, it’s simple enough to leave a little early on Friday and be back on Sunday. So a few weeks ago we headed up to Santa Barbara for a weekend away at Hotel Californian. They were hosting the Constellation Pop-up and we were invited to attend events that took place over the course of the weekend celebrating food, cocktails and music (they had me at cocktails). The entire time, we were asking ourselves why we don’t visit Santa Barbara more often.


48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete


We arrived Friday and checked into our room before heading to the welcome reception. The hotel was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard…. who also designed two other stunning hotels; Casa Laguna (which we stayed at last year and I am here to confirm it’s so freaking cute) and the Sands which I haven’t been to but it’s on my list! This one was no different. Lots of black and white with Spanish architecture. I took pictures of almost everything for our home renovation inspo.

We headed up to the roof deck as soon as we were done getting settled in (a good sunset is pretty much a requirement when I am choosing getaway destinations). The deck offered 180 degree views of the beach, so we sat with a bottle of wine to kick back after the drive. We didn’t visit during the day as it was pretty cold, but their pool was located on the deck along with some lounge seating if you were looking to sunbathe with a view. The lobby and bar were just as beautiful and a pleasure to sit in with a cocktail + live music.


48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete

The next day we grabbed coffee and headed out for brunch at Sambo’s which we always eat at when we are in town. It’s diner-esque in style and portions (aka huge… perfect after a little too much wine the night before). They offer healthy servings of mimosas and are located right on the beach. After brunch we had a cocktail class back at the hotel. This was definitely my favorite part (i’m a nerd and love learning. add in a cocktail while you’re at it and it’s my perfect afternoon). We picked up some practical tips on how to mix cocktails while being guided through a tasting of four drinks.

So, what are all these great tips I picked up? I took notes!

Almost all cocktails start with these ingredients as a base and each ingredient is adjusted depending on what you add in.

  • 3/4 oz Citrus (Orange/grapefruit have more sugar than lemon/lime. The are not used interchangeably)

  • 3/4 oz Sugar (syrup)

  • 2 oz Alcohol

So, for example, if you are making a wine based cocktail, you would need to adjust the acidity (citrus), alcohol and sugar as wine will contain all of these.

And a few more practical tips I picked up:

  • Citrus juice should only last 24 hours. Squeeze it fresh when you are mixing cocktails. Always. Have you ever gotten heartburn from a cocktail? It’s most likely because the citrus is old.

  • Always start with the least expensive ingredient in case you mess up the ratio. It’s better to toss a little simple syrup instead of your expensive liquor.

  • Using a 2 pc shaker aerates your cocktail and breaks up ice better than a standard shaker. This type of shaker is recommended (this is the one that looks like 2 metal cups, not the kind that has a cap and strainer)

  • Silicon molds make the best ice (harder ice that lasts longer)

  • Always shake cocktails with citrus, it needs to be aerated. No citrus? Stir those cocktails

  • Are you adding soda water (dilution) to your cocktail? Make the shake short so you aren’t diluting the drink in shaker with melting ice.

  • Bitters are the salt and pepper of your bar. Use as enhancer or to mellow a drink. Typically you will use one eye dropper per cocktail.

48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete

48 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete


Even though I wanted a nap at this point (ie. after tasting four cocktails), I knew that the time between cocktail class and dinner was our only free time to explore, so we headed out on State Street (where the hotel is located) to check out a few shops. There are so many wineries in this area as well, and all within walking distance of each other. Many of the hotels offer bikes too which is a fun way to get around, shop, and do a little wine tasting. We will usually just cruise around and find cute places to stop with no itinerary in mind. Many of the wineries are dog friendly as well!

We ended the night with a delicious dinner at blackbird. I was a bad blogger and didn’t capture many pictures of dinner (I was hungry. it was dark. give me a break).. but take my word for it and try the restaurant if you stay here.

Sunday morning we packed up and visited the hotel’s restaurant Goat Tree for brunch before making the easy drive back to Orange County. The only thing that would have made it better was if we brought our dogs. Whenever we visit Santa Barbara I always leave feeling refreshed. I think it’s the laid back vibe of the beach town that is mixed with SO much to do in just a few blocks.

Have you guys ever visited Santa Barbara? What are your favorite spots?

You can check out Hotel Californian here and plan your stay!