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Dreaming in Santa Barbara

Erika Hobart 

Instagram: @erikaexplores

My Favorite Finds 

  • Santa Barbara County Courthouse. 

This fully operational courthouse was built in 1929 and is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings. If you climb to the top of the clock tower, you also get the most incredible panoramic views of the city. 

  • Scarlett Begonia. 

This adorable farm-to-table eatery is famous for its weekend brunch—and with good reason. Whether you’ve got a sweet or savory tooth, Scarlett Begonia’s got you covered. 

  • Ganna Walska Lotusland. 

I love all gardens, but this one is particularly unique and the story behind it is fascinating. Lotusland is the historic estate of Madame Ganna Walska, an eccentric opera singer who married six times and used the wealth she accumulated from her relationships to build a 37-acre botanical garden at her mansion.

  • The Urban Wine Trail. 

The name refers to the 20+ tasting rooms that are located across some of Santa Barbara’s most interesting neighborhoods. My favorite areas to explore are the trendy Funk Zone and the historic Presidio.

  • San Ysidro Ranch. 

This heavenly hideaway consists of 38 private cottages surrounded by 500 acres of citrus groves and rose gardens. Everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Winston Churchill to the Kennedys has stayed there. If you want to experience San Ysidro Ranch at a more affordable price point, you can skip the stay and book a dinner reservation at Stonehouse, its charming restaurant housed inside a 19th-century citrus packing house. The service is impeccable.

When Arriving in a New Place

I like to find a good coffee shop and then check out the local grocery store or market. I find it both fascinating and comforting to observe people’s familiar rituals in a place that I find unfamiliar. 

Erika is a Japanese-American travel journalist and photographer based in Marrakech, Morocco. 

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