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The Official Visiting Santa Barbara Thread

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I'm happy to call Santa Barbara home and will do my best to answer questions about this beautiful city by the sea (and hopefully some other people will jump in too, as I've seen how much that helps other threads).

 

Just off the top of my head, here are some fun things to do in Santa Barbara if your ship calls on our harbor:

 

Take the trolley tour booked through the ship and see all the highlights

Visit the zoo

Visit the Mission (if you ever read Island of the Blue Dolphins, the main character is buried there)

Visit our Courthouse (don't get arrested, just for sightseeing) and if you head to the bell tower you'll have arguably the best view of the city

Walk the Urban Wine Trail

Go eat--there are tons of good restaurants in Santa Barbara, everything except for Ethiopian cuisine as far as I know.

Take a tour to Santa Barbara Wine Country in the Santa Ynez valley (45 minutes away)

 

If I can answer any questions, please post.

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Thanks for starting this thread....great idea.

 

Re the Trolley Tour....Do the ships book the trolley out for the day? I have seen this happen elsewhere (not in the states though). We had thought we could do this on our own, giving us the benefit of hopping off and on, hence spending more time at certain sights.

Jen

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From what I understand, the trolley tour through the ship isn't hop-on hop-off, but it also is reserved for cruise passengers, so there's no chance you'll be stuck waiting at any given stop for an empty seat on the regular trolley. The ship tour runs six trolleys in three different runs and from what I've heard it's booked full most of the time. The regular (non-ship) trolley tour has a pickup spot by Stearns Wharf, but there's a chance you'll end up waiting for a while to get a seat because it is hop-on hop-off.

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You can save money by buying the Santa Barbara Trolley tickets online. If you are buying 2 or more tickets, you will pay $16.50 per person by buying them online. The ship charges anywhere from $35-45 per person for the trolley tour ($45 on our last cruise). The ship's reserved trolleys pick up on Cabrillo Blvd near the Santa Barbara Sea Landing. It is about a 5-minute walk down Cabrillo to Stearn's Wharf where the regular trolley tour picks up at the Dolphin fountain. This is very easy to do on your own.

 

On my last two coastal cruises that stopped in Santa Barbara I looked at the wait for the morning trolleys that pick up at Stearn's Wharf when the ship is in and there was essentially no line. There does not appear to be a problem in getting on the trolley on your own at Stearn's Wharf. Most cruisers do not know that you can do this on your own and so they book the ship's tours and the regular trolleys are going empty.

 

The only disadvantage of buying the tickets online is that you can cancel the Princess trolley tour about 24-48 hours prior to the tour and get your money back. You are stuck with the trolley tickets you buy online if you change your mind at the last minute (although the tickets are good indefinitely so they can be used on a future trip to SB).

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I haven't been down at the wharf for the last few ships that have visited, but I think buying the tickets separately is a good way to save money, as long as you are comfortable finding an alternative way back if you hop-off at a stop and can't find a seat on a later trolley. The early morning trolleys may be empty, but I bet they can fill as the day goes on. Also, as I understand it, if for any reason the ship's course changes and skips Santa Barbara, the tour booked through them will be refunded.

 

Another nice way to see downtown is to take the downtown shuttle (electric) from Stearn's Wharf up State St. It's pretty cheap (50 cents a person) and runs right through the center of Downtown. It doesn't take you as far as the Mission, so if you are heading there you'll be walking uphill a decent distance from the farthest shuttle stop.

 

Also, if you want to visit our zoo, there is an electric shuttle that runs along Cabrillo Blvd. It turns around at the zoo, so it doesn't get much more convenient than getting on the shuttle at the Cabrillo/Bath St. stop and getting off at the zoo. It's also 50 cents per person, so it's a cheap way to get to the zoo.

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Thanks everyone for your input re the trolley, plus the alternative transport options. Great to know the ship doesn't book all the trollies. Best to do this on our own, as cannot see the point if we are unable to get off, and see the sights properly.

Jen

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I have taken the trolley a number of times and never experienced any trouble getting on the next trolley. They only run about half full the vast majority of the time (a few holiday weekends they might go full). The only trolleys I have seen go full consistently are the trolleys reserved by the cruise ships when they come to town.

 

If you want to get on and off, do the tour on your own. I recommend getting off at the courthouse, the mission, and the Four Seasons Biltmore/Butterfly Beach. There is also a stop on State Street (the main drag downtown) if you have time.

 

The Waterfront Electric Shuttle is a nice, inexpensive shuttle service that stops about every block along State Street and has several stops along Cabrillo (main waterfront street). It does not go far and it is not a narrated tour of the city. If you want to see the mission, Montecito, and other city highlights you should take the trolley.

Edited by Princess Patches

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The different trolleys and shuttles sound good, we were discussing what to do in Santa Barbara in October. We are not much for wine tasting tours, but if a tour of some kind goes to a winery it's not a real issue. On the hop on hop off trolleys, how long is the loop that it takes? Is it feasable to do the loop and then return to something that looked interesting? Also we were thinking about renting a bike for the two of us, does anyone know if those tours are nice? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks, Scott

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If you pick up the Trolley tour at Stearns Wharf and do one full loop, it's 90 minutes. If you pick it up at any other stop, it's two hours to do the full loop because the trolley waits at Stearns Wharf for 30 minutes.

 

I don't know about all the bike tours, but I do know that Santa Barbara Adventure Co. does a bike tour of the Santa Ynez Valley that includes some wineries. They might have a bike tour around Santa Barbara, but I'm not sure. Also, Wheel Fun rents bikes and might have a bike tour of Santa Barbara. I'll look up both companies tomorrow and see what I can find out.

 

Also, another website that will be helpful to visitors is http://www.cruisesantabarbara.com

 

I'd like to make this thread useful to everybody who visits for their first or 50th time, so I'll post more links to local attractions in the next few days.

 

Finally, to help our visitors, I'd like to start a list of known places with free wifi for those people who don't want to buy Internet minutes on the ship. I'll start posting those places I know of tomorrow (including street addresses and map links) and hopefully some other people can chime in with places I haven't listed. I'll try to keep the list updated on page one of this thread to make it easier to find.

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Wheel Fun has self-guided bike tours which include maps to guide you. Here's a link to their site:

http://www.wheelfunrentalssb.com/scenic-bike-tour.html

 

Also, Santa Barbara Adventure Co. has two bike rides around Santa Barbara and one in Santa Ynez. Here's a link to those tours:

http://www.sbadventureco.com/adventures/bike-tours/

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For those cruisers who wish to catch up on their email or work, here are some of the places that offer free wireless in the Santa Barbara downtown area (based on personal experience and a little research):

 

Amtrak Station

209 State St.

 

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

811 State St.

 

Santa Barbara Main Library

40 East Anapamu St.

 

Starbucks

800 State St.

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The different trolleys and shuttles sound good, we were discussing what to do in Santa Barbara in October. We are not much for wine tasting tours, but if a tour of some kind goes to a winery it's not a real issue. On the hop on hop off trolleys, how long is the loop that it takes? Is it feasable to do the loop and then return to something that looked interesting? Also we were thinking about renting a bike for the two of us, does anyone know if those tours are nice? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks, Scott

 

The trolley tickets you buy online or onboard the trolley are good for two consecutuve days. So yes, it is feasible to take the full loop and then return to something that looked interesting if you have time. However, if you buy the trolley tour through the ship then it is just the one loop with no getting on or off and no taking a second loop.

Edited by Princess Patches

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For those cruisers who wish to catch up on their email or work, here are some of the places that offer free wireless in the Santa Barbara downtown area (based on personal experience and a little research):

 

Amtrak Station

209 State St.

 

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

811 State St.

 

 

 

Santa Barbara Main Library

40 East Anapamu St.

 

Starbucks

800 State St.

 

These are all great free wifi places. The closest free wifi spot to where the ship tenders drop you off is Sambo's restaurant. You can get a cup of coffee or something and sit there for hours. The tenders let you off at Sea Landing which is at Cabrillo Blvd and Bath Street and Sambo's is directly across the street. It is a one minute walk from the tender dock.

Edited by Princess Patches

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These are all great free wifi places. The closest free wifi spot to where the ship tenders drop you off is Sambo's restaurant. You can get a cup of coffee or something and sit there for hours. The tenders let you off at Sea Landing which is at Cabrillo Blvd and Bath Street and Sambo's is directly across the street. It is a one minute walk from the tender dock.

 

I never noticed they have free WiFi--when DW and I go to Sambos we're with our dog, so we sit outside on the patio. For visitors, Sambos is a lovely restaurant, and on a nice day, you get a gentle breeze from the ocean which makes sitting there quite nice.

 

Princess, since you're a local too, maybe you and I can recommend some restaurants for visitors. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Arch Rock Fish

608 Anacapa

Excellent food and ambiance

 

Enterprise Fish Co.

225 State St.

Great food (lots of fish options), lots of tables

 

Carlitos Cafe

1324 State St.

Delicious Mexican food, big portions

 

El Paseo

813 Anacapa St.

Good margaritas, good Mexican food

 

Pascucci

729 State St.

Very popular Italian restaurant, usually very crowded for dinner.

 

Casa Blanca Restaurant

330 State St.

The Mexican food and drinks are good and the prices are decent.

 

If anybody is looking for specific kinds of food, I'm happy to recommend something. The places I listed above are mid-range in price and ambiance, so if you want less-expensive or more upscale there are plenty of options in Downtown.

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Yes, they definitely have free wifi at Sambo's. You do not see many people on their laptops there because most go for the great, inexpensive breakfasts and the free ocean views.

 

I agree with your restaurant picks. I would add Brophy's, which is a short stroll from the tender dock. It has wonderful ocean, city, and harbor views and the food is terrific and reasonably priced (get a table outside for the view). They have the best clam chowder I have ever tasted and I have tasted a few. I also love Palazzio in the 1000 block of State Street for Italian food (get 1/2 orders here because a full order will serve a family of four).

Edited by Princess Patches

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Yes, they definitely have free wifi at Sambo's. You do not see many people on their laptops there because most go for the great, inexpensive breakfasts and the free ocean views.

 

I agree with your restaurant picks. I would add Brophy's, which is a short stroll from the tender dock. It has wonderful ocean, city, and harbor views and the food is terrific and reasonably priced (get a table outside for the view). They have the best clam chowder I have ever tasted and I have tasted a few. I also love Palazzio in the 1000 block of State Street for Italian food (get 1/2 orders here because a full order will serve a family of four).

 

Palazzio is a great choice, especially for families looking to feed an army of teenagers. The garlic rolls fresh from the oven remind me of this Italian place in Pacific Palisades that my grandparents used to order from. I haven't tried the Brophy's clam chowder yet, but now it's top on my list. Also, if you like Arch Rock, Travelzoo sometimes has lunch or dinner deals similar to Groupon and today the deal is available again. We enjoyed the dinner last time and will pick either it or lunch this time.

Travelzoo Deal

Edited by SBAnt
Garlic Rolls!

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The garlic rolls at Palazzio are to die for (and complimentary too)! Arch Rock is relatively new and I have not tried it yet, but a couple of family members went there a few months ago and are still raving about it. I will try it soon. Thanks for the Travelzoo deal.

 

What Italian place in the Palisades? I went to Pali High and am trying to think of the restaurant you are referring too.

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The garlic rolls at Palazzio are to die for (and complimentary too)! Arch Rock is relatively new and I have not tried it yet, but a couple of family members went there a few months ago and are still raving about it. I will try it soon. Thanks for the Travelzoo deal.

 

What Italian place in the Palisades? I went to Pali High and am trying to think of the restaurant you are referring too.

 

Vittorios, which to this day has the best garlic knots I can remember, was my grandparents' favorite. You went to Pali High? DW went to SaMo and I did Junior Guards at Will Rogers beach, so that whole area is near and dear to my heart.

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Vittorios, which to this day has the best garlic knots I can remember, was my grandparents' favorite. You went to Pali High? DW went to SaMo and I did Junior Guards at Will Rogers beach, so that whole area is near and dear to my heart.

 

I know Vittorio's just past Pali a ways on a little street off Sunset. They have the best pizza. Somehow I missed trying their garlic rolls. I will try them next time I am there visiting family. Thanks for the tip. Yes, I grew up in that area and went to Revere and Pali. I love it down there, but I have to admit I love Santa Barbara even more!

Edited by Princess Patches

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They go to the Sea Landing next to the boat landing in the Harbor. If you walk 300 feet, you're on Cabrillo Blvd., next to Los Banos swimming pool. If you go down to the bottom of this page and zoom in, you'll see the exact spot:

Sea Landing

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Lookinf for a car rental company near the tender dock. Looks like Hertz has one on State St? And at 633 East Cabrillo Bvld.

 

How far to get to/from the the tender dock to the 633 addy?

 

We are looking to go to Solvang (sp?) for a few hours...Would it be better to catch a cab/shuttle to the airport and rent there?

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Lookinf for a car rental company near the tender dock. Looks like Hertz has one on State St? And at 633 East Cabrillo Bvld.

 

How far to get to/from the the tender dock to the 633 addy?

 

We are looking to go to Solvang (sp?) for a few hours...Would it be better to catch a cab/shuttle to the airport and rent there?

 

 

The closest rental car agency to the tender drop off point is Hertz at the Amtrak Station on State Street. The tender drops you off at Sea Landing which is about at Cabrillo Blvd. and Bath Street. Walk along Cabrillo towards Stearns Wharf about three blocks, then turn left on State Street at the Dolphin Fountain. Go about two blocks up State Street and the Amtrak Station is on your left at the first signal. This is about a 10-15 minute walk. The airport is 10-15 miles from the harbor and you would have an expensive cab fare to get there.

 

It is about 35 miles to Solvang and takes about 45 minutes to drive there. The safest most level route is north on Hwy 101. You have beautiful ocean views most of the way on this route. You can also take the more treacherous San Marcos Pass over the mountains, which is scenic, but I do not recommend this mountain road. There are a lot of accidents on that road.

 

I highly recommend the danish pastries at Mortensen's in Solvang.

Edited by Princess Patches

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Thanks for the quick reply.

 

I looked at the Hertz on State St., but it said....

"PLEASE NOTE: There is not a vehicle rental office at this location. This vehicle may need to be coordinated for pick-up and/or drop-off."

 

So I wasn't sure if it was a 'real' agency???

 

Good to note about the San Marcos Pass (I presume this is hwy 154?) over the mountains...we were going to drive that way up and HWY 101 on the way back. Why is it so dangerous? I see it is not a divided highway..used to those. Curvy? Bad weather? Insane drivers? Animals? We have divided highways here that have accidents monthly, if not weekly...doesn't stop us from driving on them...Now...if it because of gang violance and we'll end up driving through a shooting..then we may have to rethink our plans! (Just joking)....

 

Kind of makes the difference on our decision.

 

Thanks.

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Thanks for the quick reply.

 

I looked at the Hertz on State St., but it said....

"PLEASE NOTE: There is not a vehicle rental office at this location. This vehicle may need to be coordinated for pick-up and/or drop-off."

 

So I wasn't sure if it was a 'real' agency???

 

Good to note about the San Marcos Pass (I presume this is hwy 154?) over the mountains...we were going to drive that way up and HWY 101 on the way back. Why is it so dangerous? I see it is not a divided highway..used to those. Curvy? Bad weather? Insane drivers? Animals? We have divided highways here that have accidents monthly, if not weekly...doesn't stop us from driving on them...Now...if it because of gang violance and we'll end up driving through a shooting..then we may have to rethink our plans! (Just joking)....

 

Kind of makes the difference on our decision.

 

 

Thanks.

 

You will have to call up Hertz to find out how they coordinate the pick up at the Amtrak Station. If you do not like their response, then the next closest rental agency of the ones you mentioned would be at the Fess Parker Resort on Cabrillo. You can take the Electric Shuttle for 50 cents that runs along Cabrillo and there is a drop off in front of the Fess Parker Resort. The ride on the shuttle is just a few minutes, but you might have to wait 20 minutes for the shuttle to show up.

 

Hwy 154 (San Marcos Pass) is not divided. It is narrow, winding, and steep. This makes it very accident prone. If you decide you want to take it for the scenery or because you like mountain drives, I would advise taking it on the way to Solvang (you will be on the inside lane) and then Hwy 101 on the return.

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I agree 100% with Princess about HWY 154. I much prefer the 101 drive, mostly for the two lane divided highway along the pristine Gaviota coast, but also because it's so much safer than the 154. What do you plan to do in Solvang?

Edited by SBAnt
Added Gaviota

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Thanks for the info on the rental cars..I'll have to call.

 

Hwy 154 sounds like many of the roads we have driven on in the past. Thanks for the info on conditions. If we do take it, we will use it to drive to Solvang. Is it still about a 45 minute drive?

 

Funny that the two lane divided hwy is 'safer'...yet here lots of accidents happen on these highways...probably due to speeding, cell phones etc....

 

As for Solvang...haven't decided exactly yet...Have any suggestions?

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Well, it kind of depends on what you're looking for. There are plenty of places to wine taste in town and nearby, and I can happily recommend several tasting rooms in Los Olivos (a nearby town). If you are looking to walk around a quaint Danish town, then Solvang is your place, it's an interesting mix of Danish themed stuff and small town feel. There are definitely places to try Danish pastries if that's something you're interested in.

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Great! Not interested in wine tasting..not really our thing (not that we don't enjoy a good glass of wine!). Walking around a quiant Danish town is exactly what we are looking for. Danish pastries? Definitely! Any suggestions for specific places to visit/walk around? Have lunch at? Park?! We are looking for a central place to start and mosey our way around the main 'downtown' or most scenic/interesting part of town..have lunch, then leave.

 

Thanks for all the help and suggestions :)

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I agree 100% with Princess about HWY 154. I much prefer the 101 drive, mostly for the two lane divided highway along the pristine Gaviota coast, but also because it's so much safer than the 154. What do you plan to do in Solvang?

 

I have to say that I love taking Hwy 154 (San Marcos Pass). This area is one of Southern California's most beautiful. The Santa Ynez Valley where you turn off to Solvang is really picturesque. I think it's safe enough if you're cautious and don't EVER try to pass without a passing lane. However, I have to say that I live about an hour south of Santa Barbara and don't hear the local news about accidents like you guys that live in Santa Barbara.

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San Marcos Pass does offer some beautiful views of the area, particularly from the bridge heading down into the Santa Ynes Valley. Unfortunately, good places to stop and take it all in (and maybe a photo) are few and far between and you don't want to divert your attention from the road. If you do take the 154, definitely do it on the way to the Valley and take the 101 back. That way you'll be on the ocean side of the highway on the way back and the inside of San Marcos Pass. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and back in case there are construction delays on the 101 or an accident on the 154.

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I'm not sure if there will be any tour operators at the tender dock with tours to Solvang. If you want to go to Solvang, I would look online, because most tours that head up to the Santa Ynez Valley are wine-tasting tours that I don't think spend much time (if any) in Solvang.

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Thank you so much for the helpful information. We are renting a car at Hertz which we are told is located in the Fess Parker Doubletree Hotel. Is this within a walk of where the tenders drop you off?

 

We are planning to drive out to Solvang, then possibly wineries. Are the Santa Ynez wineries close to Solvang?

 

Thank you!!

Edited by sunsetbeachgal

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Fess Parker is a good distance from the tender point. I would recommend the 50 cent shuttle that will take you along the waterfront and save you a mile of walking and some time. Also, there are lots of wineries very close (<5 miles) to Solvang. I enjoy Sunstone, Byron and Evans Ranch.

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