TRAVEL: An Affordable Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez

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Santa Barbara is one of our favorite places to visit. And why not? It’s only about two hours from Los Angeles, sports optimum weather most of the time, and its pace will gently lull you into relaxation as you engage in the many amenities available in the area.


The backyard at The Upham Photos: Mary McGrath

The Upham is one of our must-stay B&Bs in the area. Built in 1871, it’s the oldest operating hotel in Southern California.  Its charm and elegance make it an optimum place to stay, providing a charming backdrop for the weary traveler, with Serta beds and fine feather pillows that cradle you in comfort.  We enjoyed the fireplace in our cottage, along with the opulent views of the tightly manicured grounds surrounding the property.

The Upham is also centrally located to many of the more popular attractions in the area. State Street is only a few blocks away, where you can stroll among the many shops, or delight in some of the top culinary spots in town.

On this particular visit, we enjoyed the happening Ca Dario, with its fine Italian cuisine.  Although the tables were a bit cramped, we took advantage of the tight squeeze to make friends with some neighboring diners to exchange ideas on some of the other restaurants around town.

Public living room at The Upham

Sadly, I do not own an iPhone, but when our neighbor whipped hers out, she was quickly navigating the locations of many of the restaurants she favored in the area. Those apps are amazing!

Saturday suggested getting out of the area to enjoy Los Olivos, about 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara.  This Mayberry area is a throwback to simpler times, with many tasting rooms showcasing the vintages in the surrounding areas.

Many wineries in the area do not have tasting rooms on the premises, which is where Los Olivos comes in handy.  Some of the wineries that are featured in Los Olivos include: Arthur Earl, Andrew Murray Vineyards, Daniel Gehrs Wines, Consilience Wines, Epiphany Cellars, and Longoria.  Sip, saunter and shop. That’s what Los Olivos is all about.

After trolling the area, we took the suggestion from a local merchant to head to The Vineyard House for lunch in nearby Santa Ynez, a happening local spot overlooking some of the sprawling terrain of the area. Dating back to 1907, the home was originally built for the William Andersen family, one of the early blacksmiths from that era.

After our sojourn, we headed back to the Upham, and settled in to the lazy pace of the day, to nap, and then feast on wine and cheese before fulfilling our dinner plans, which brought us to Opal, right on State Street.

Opal is one of those happening spots, with an eclectic offering of fusion delights. Both restaurants were winners on our foodie trek, although there are many other fine places to eat that punctuate the area.

Morning buffet at The Upham.

Back at the Upham, slumber was calling.  Morning broke with a bounty of offerings from their breakfast buffet.  Sure, I was stuffed, but who can resist scones, bagels, fresh fruit, and other tasty temptations? Aren’t we on vacation?

Kudos to General Manager Jan Martin Winn whose hospitality makes reminds you of a long-lost friend. In this age of anonymous desk clerks, she and her staff go out of their way to accommodate your needs, and make you feel like your business is appreciated.

Besides the breakfast buffet, wine and cheese is served in the afternoons, to punctuate your stay before dinner. Sit down and mingle, or simply enjoy the antiques and library of real hardbound books.

For those wanting a more intimate B&B experience, their sister property, The Country House, is just across the street, featuring eight finely appointed rooms, hot breakfast and hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon.  Unlike the Upham, children and pets are not allowed.

Mary McGrath is a freelance writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in many publications including Newsweek, Copley Newspapers, and the LA Times. ( or


About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.