Santa Barbara, tucked between a curving bay and the Santa Ynez
Mountains, is one of the prettiest places in all California.
Discovered by a Portuguese navigator in 1542, it was an important
center of Spanish culture until the Americans seized California
in the 19th century. After a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shook the
Santa Barbara area in 1925, all reconstruction of buildings
destroyed by the quake, as well as all new construction, was to
conform to strict architectural standards: a
Spanish-Mediterranean theme with red-tile roofs, arched facades,
central courtyards, and muted plaster exteriors.
Getting there ...
- Monterey Aquarium
Since we are the members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
this year, we decided to visit the Aquarium as our first
stop for this trip. Although we have visited the Aquarium
so many times, we are still always amazed by its
exhibition in the Outer Bay, Jelly fish, Kelp forest,
sharks, and so on. We also like the clam chowder here
that we had a good lunch especially for the Thanksgiving
- El Capitan State Beach
It's a long way drive on highway 101 down to Santa
Barbara. Before we reached our destination, the sunset
time had approached that I could not resist to drive down
to a beach from the highway to catch the light. However,
the first beach we went requires the entrance fee and we
did not want to pay the fee just for a few minutes.
Luckily, we saw the next beach just a few miles later and
the gate was open. Linus and Iris enjoyed their first
touch of beach, and I enjoyed the golden light of the end
of the day.
The Second Day ...
- Sunrise at Goleta (UC Santa Barbara)
We stayed in a hotel in Goleta, so I went to the campus
of UCSB for my first sunrise. I knew nothing about the
campus, but I just followed the beach and tried to find a
good parking space. There is a trail just beside the
campus road along the beach with a very good overlook.
The sun rose behind the land in the distance like a fire
ball highlighting a floating island.
- Santa Barbara Downtown
We went to Santa Barbara and started the famous "Red
Tile" tour from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse,
the city's grandest building. The interior is a
masterwork of beamed ceilings, arched corridors, and
palacio tile floors. The sweeping view at the top of the
clock tower is stunning: From the Santa Ynez Mountains to
the ocean, all that meets the eyes are palm trees and red
We walked for a few blocks of Red Tile tour, and turned
back to the State Street, the primary downtown shopping
area. Clearly, Santa Barbara is full of tourist in
downtown for the holiday season.
- Moreton Bay Fig Tree
The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, planted on July 4, 1876, by a
young girl who had been given the seedling by a sailor
from Australia, is a century-old giant with branches
spanning 160 feet. It is the largest tree of its kind in
the US, and it can cover more than 16,000 people under
its shade. Linus and Iris were anxious to see the big
tree when they heard the story about the tree.
- Stearns Wharf
We had lunch at a restaurant around a corner near the
Stearns Wharf, the oldest pier on the West Coast. We took
a walk to the wharf, which offers everything for
tourists: fishing, seafood stands (not for me),
restaurants, wine tasting, and ice cream. But Linus
cannot wait to go to beach to play, so we headed back
before reach the end of the pier, and went down to the
beach, where they could spend the whole afternoon playing
sand, rock, and water.
Before the end of the day, we decided to rent a 4-seat
bike to ride along the paved trail along the beach. Linus
and Iris were both excited when we got it on the road.
When we returned from the west end of the trail, a small
accident happened: Iris' foot was jammed by one pedal
when we tried to back and turn the bike, and her foot was
scratched. Iris was crying on the way riding back, and
refused to walk back to our car.
The Third Day ...
- Sunrise at Stearns Wharf
I went back to the Stearns Wharf in the morning. The
beach was so calm and quiet that I felt I was back to a
natural reserve instead of tourist vista.
- Hiking in the Santa Ynez Mountains
We went to the Santa Ynez Mountains (Front Country) at
about 9:30AM, and we were lucky that we got the last
parking space (almost the best one too) at the end of the
road. I chose a hiking trail called "7 Falls"
before the trip when I researched the internet for
information about Santa Barbara. Many websites give very
detail info about this trail and also give warning that
the sign of the trail is unclear and confusing. I have to
agree with them. It turned out that we missed a turn and
stayed on the Jesusita Trail and went up to Inspiration
Point (I think). We tried to go up to the 7 Falls Trail
when we headed back from the summit, and found it was
quite challenge that we decided to turn back to the
- Natural History Museum and Mission of Santa Barbara
We only had some snack when we hiked in the morning, and
it's almost one o'clock when we were back to the car. I
hoped we can get some food at the Natural History Museum,
but they only provided some snacks from the vending
machine. The museum is small but packed with many
interesting displays. We especially liked the exhibition
of all kinds of bird nests.
We then went to the Mission of Santa Barbara, known as
the "Queen of the Mission", was founded in 1786
and restored in 1820. We did not go in the Mission
because both Linus and Iris were tired and hungry, and
Iris was particularly in a bad mood.:-(
- Back to Stearns Wharf
We went back to the Santa Barbara downtown, and found a
McDonald's and Quizno Sub on the State Street, so we had
a late "lunch" at about 3PM. After we were
finished, both Linus and Iris were energized again, and
wanted to go to the beach to play. Iris even forgot the
injury she had the day before and wanted to ride the bike
again. We stayed on the beach and played "ducks and
drakes" (throwing a stone at an angle so that the
stone can bounce on the water several times before sink)
until sunset. Linus was pretty good at it, but he
complained his arm was sour on the next day.
We went back to the State Street for dinner at a Japanese
restaurant. After dinner, we found a special jewelry store
that Iris was so excited that she did not want to leave until
we told her that it also has a same store in San Francisco.
The Last Day,
I wanted to find a place which can overview the
waterfront and beach for sunrise. I made a turn from
highway 101 toward the hills and found there are many
beautiful mansions sitting on the hills, but I could not
find any good clear view without being blocked by those
mansions. I decided to drive down toward the beach, and
got there just in time to snap a few shots.
I then went to the Mission of Santa Barbara for the early
morning light. There is a rose garden in front of the
Mission across the street, and it was a nice foreground
to frame the Mission.
On our way headed north back home, we stopped by Solvang,
a Danish town with Scandinavian architectures. It is
famous for its Danish bakery, and also many fabulous
specialty and gift shops. While Woanyu and Iris enjoyed
shopping, Linus was getting bored and hungry.
Going Home ...
After lunch, it's a long way to drive home. The traffic on
highway 101 was terrible around Santa Maria that we even saw
someone get off car to the road side and come back to catch the
car without running. When we passed Salinas area, the 101 was
jammed again and we decided to take a detour through highway 1 to
get home. In fact, we seldom traveled this section of highway 1
before and it was a beautiful seashore drive with the sunset as
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