Thomas Hill Organics: Great Brunch in Paso Robles

The city of Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast has become one of the most popular wine regions in the entire state and with that comes a plethora of new restaurants that are making some great food. You may recal my time at Hatch and Pasolivo, but what I really wanted to try was the popular Thomas Hill Organics. This farm to table spot lived up to the hype and was a nice place for brunch on a busy Sunday morning.  Here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost:  $15 -$20 for brunch, more for dinner
  • Hours: Different daily for lunch and dinner, check their website
  • Location: 1313 Park St, Paso Robles, CA 93446

Getting There

From Highway 101 North, get off on Paso Robles St and head straight. From here, turn left on 13th St then right on Park St. You can find parking along the street and can walk to the restaurant from here.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is a quiet little spot on Park St and while it looks small from the outside, there is a nice sized patio in the back.

The interior has wine on the walls, a big modern bar and a few small tables along the walls.

Proceed to the back of the restaurant, and you will see a patio with a dozen tables that can seat many different party sizes. I got a reservation on Sunday morning for brunch because there was a festival in the city,  but most weekends you can get a seat relatively fast, depending on your party size. The menu is all farm to table dishes grown in the area and while it is pretty small, there are a lot of great options. Here is what we chose.

House Made Donuts – These pastries had an almost funnel cake type texture, lightly drizzled with a strawberry syrup and then topped with powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. It’s a great appetizer as it is light and not too filling. It doesn’t have that heavy set feel in your stomach when you eat them, and they go great with coffee.

Pork Belly Chiliquiles – Ample portions of pork belly sitting on a bed of chips with roasted tomatoes and chevere. An egg is added to the side as is a dallop of creme fraiche. GThe salty pork belly, savory chips, sweet chèvre and fresh tomatoes all come together to create a taste that is the definition of brunch. I especially liked the tomatoes, which you would expect to be good at a farm to table restaurant like this.

Avocado Toast – Lots of avocado with chili flakes on top. The bread has a light creme fraiche spread on it that you almost don’t notice. The scrambled eggs are fluffy and a great addition to the toast, as is the ample portion of smoked salmon on the side. Again it is a nice fresh dish, which seems to be the way to describe everything here. It’s not the best avocado toast I have had but it is above average.

As you can see, this is a fun spot for brunch in the city of Paso Robles, and the fresh ingredients and great preparation will have you coming back for more. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Central Coast Trail Rides in Paso Robles / Creston

Located on the Horsetail Ranch about 30 minutes south of Paso Robles, Central Coast Trail Rides is a great place to have some time with nature while exploring a massive 150-acre ranch. The company takes you on a one hour ride up hills, under trees, and around a lake while letting you enjoy it all from on top of a horse. It was a great way to spend a morning / afternoon on the Central Coast and here is all the information.

Details

  • ~$75 for an hour ride (*May 2017)

Getting There

Since there are a decent amount of back roads needed to get to the ranch, they will let you know where to go when you book a ride. When you get to Horsetail Ranch, you will see a large water tank and sign; then you can proceed into the ranch to the old barn where the ride starts.

The owners, Brian and Crystal, are fantastic people and we got to spend some time with them over the weekend we stayed at Horsetail Ranch (read more about that here). They are welcoming and really like what they are doing, which shines through in their work with the animals.

They also have some farm animals like a pig, goat, chickens and a mini horse that you can interact with before or after your ride, adding to the fun ranch experience.

The Ride

Of course, the main reason to come is to go on one of the trail rides. The ride takes you around the amazing property, and you get a lot of great views as you leisurely explore.

The area is mostly in the sun, but there are some times when you will be going under trees or on the backside of the mountains with a little shade.

One of the highlights is the lake on the property, which was full after the rain we had in 2017. It was reflective and beautiful as we made our way around it.

The backside of the property has some cool old trees as well, which I appreciated for photography.

Once we got back, Brian helped us off our horse and let us go see the other animals mentioned above.

I am not much of a horse rider, but I enjoyed my time on the ride and felt completely safe the entire time.

If you are visiting Paso Robles, especially with family, be sure to check out Central Coast Trail Rides. They also bring horses to other locations for you as well if that is something you are interested. Also, read about staying on Horsetail Ranch here and about Paso Robles as a whole here.

Horsetail Ranch: A Luxury Vacation Rental in Creston, Near Paso Robles

In San Luis Obispo County, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is becoming a booming area full of wine, restaurants, and places to explore. When looking for a place to stay in the area, it is hard to beat the new luxury vacation rental property just opened last year known as HorseTail Ranch, about 25 minutes south of downtown Paso Robles. With two spots to rent on the 150-acre property, it is a great home away from home. Both options are unique and can be used for everything from weddings and retreats to family vacations or romantic weekends. Here is all the information so that you can check this spot out for yourself.

Details

  • Book here
  • Bring your own food
  • Horse rides available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides

Getting There

When you book, they will give you directions to the property as well as times to arrive and what to expect. Both houses are on different sides of the ranch so you can stay in one and never see the other, which truly makes it feel remote, and I loved that.

The people who manage the property, Brian and Crystal are great as well, they are actually one of the highlights. They run the horse riding business on the property called Central Coast Trailrides, which you can read about here and they are always ready to help with problems that may arise.

They also have a bunch of animals including a goat, two donkeys, a mini horse, chickens and regular horses. There were multiple times during our weekend there when we just went down and hung out with them and the animals at the barn, adding to the experience.

The Main House

There are two houses on the property. The main one is a five bedroom home with lots of amenities and which overlooks the lake. There were people staying at it and having a wedding in the back, so I didn’t see the inside. Online the photos make it look impressive though.

The Cabin

The one we stayed in was an awesome off the grid cabin that could sleep 6. It is truly off the grid, with no wifi or TV and with all the power coming from solar panels.

From the moment we pulled up to the cabin we were excited to be staying there as it was designed in such a cool way, very rustic and modern.

The Cabin is situated on top of a small ridge with a beautiful view looking over the hills in the distance and ridiculously perfect sunsets.

Outside of the house, there are a lot of outdoor seating options and a grill for cooking.

The interior is just as awesome, with a large open layout for it’s one big main story, and a loft above with two pull out beds.

My wife and I stayed here solo, but we could have easily had a few friends with us, and it wouldn’t have felt too cozy.

The one bedroom is downstairs, and it has the house’s only bathroom. If you go with friends, make sure they are good friends as you have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

There is a small kitchen under the stairs with a fridge and stove top. This is the only area I wish was a little bigger as there was not a lot of space to cook, but it worked for what we were doing.

For food, you will want to bring your own as the property is not very close to any restaurants or grocery stores. My wife and I loved that aspect as the outdoor seating, especially for sunset, was awesome and it was a great place to eat the dinner we made.

Since the cabin is up on a hill, the views during sunset are second to none as you can see for miles, here are a few shots.

With the lack of Wifi and TV, I used it as a time to unplug a little, which was a huge plus for me since I spend so much of my time connected to the internet. There was cell reception though so we could always connect with people or check email if needed.

The Lake

The property also has a lake which is near the other house, but you can drive or walk to it. There is a paddleboat you can take out on the lake, or you can just sit and relax by it.

Horse Rides

As I stated above, there is horseback riding available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides. I would recommend doing that as it’s a great way to see the property and relax, you can read more about it here.

Wineries

If you are looking to explore wineries, as I am sure you are in Paso Robles, these three are all within 15-20 minutes.

Still Water Winery

This is a smaller winery, but it has live music on the weekends and a relaxed vibe with great people working there.

Sculpterra

Sculpterra is one of my favorites in Paso Robles as it has lots of unique sculptures to explore around the property.

Cass Winery

This is a great spot for lunch as they have excellent food and you can do a wine tasting while eating the food.

All in all, if you are looking for a great spot to set up a home base for exploring Paso Robles, or for a wedding or event, it is hard to beat HorseTail Ranch. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments, I honestly can’t wait to visit again.

Disclosure: this stay was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Horsetail Ranch: A Luxury Vacation Rental in Creston, Near Paso Robles

In San Luis Obispo County, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is becoming a booming area full of wine, restaurants, and places to explore. When looking for a place to stay in the area, it is hard to beat the new luxury vacation rental property just opened last year known as HorseTail Ranch, about 25 minutes south of downtown Paso Robles. With two spots to rent on the 150-acre property, it is a great home away from home. Both options are unique and can be used for everything from weddings and retreats to family vacations or romantic weekends. Here is all the information so that you can check this spot out for yourself.

Details

  • Book here
  • Bring your own food
  • Horse rides available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides

Getting There

When you book, they will give you directions to the property as well as times to arrive and what to expect. Both houses are on different sides of the ranch so you can stay in one and never see the other, which truly makes it feel remote, and I loved that.

The people who manage the property, Brian and Crystal are great as well, they are actually one of the highlights. They run the horse riding business on the property called Central Coast Trailrides, which you can read about here and they are always ready to help with problems that may arise.

They also have a bunch of animals including a goat, two donkeys, a mini horse, chickens and regular horses. There were multiple times during our weekend there when we just went down and hung out with them and the animals at the barn, adding to the experience.

The Main House

There are two houses on the property. The main one is a five bedroom home with lots of amenities and which overlooks the lake. There were people staying at it and having a wedding in the back, so I didn’t see the inside. Online the photos make it look impressive though.

The Cabin

The one we stayed in was an awesome off the grid cabin that could sleep 6. It is truly off the grid, with no wifi or TV and with all the power coming from solar panels.

From the moment we pulled up to the cabin we were excited to be staying there as it was designed in such a cool way, very rustic and modern.

The Cabin is situated on top of a small ridge with a beautiful view looking over the hills in the distance and ridiculously perfect sunsets.

Outside of the house, there are a lot of outdoor seating options and a grill for cooking.

The interior is just as awesome, with a large open layout for it’s one big main story, and a loft above with two pull out beds.

My wife and I stayed here solo, but we could have easily had a few friends with us, and it wouldn’t have felt too cozy.

The one bedroom is downstairs, and it has the house’s only bathroom. If you go with friends, make sure they are good friends as you have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

There is a small kitchen under the stairs with a fridge and stove top. This is the only area I wish was a little bigger as there was not a lot of space to cook, but it worked for what we were doing.

For food, you will want to bring your own as the property is not very close to any restaurants or grocery stores. My wife and I loved that aspect as the outdoor seating, especially for sunset, was awesome and it was a great place to eat the dinner we made.

Since the cabin is up on a hill, the views during sunset are second to none as you can see for miles, here are a few shots.

With the lack of Wifi and TV, I used it as a time to unplug a little, which was a huge plus for me since I spend so much of my time connected to the internet. There was cell reception though so we could always connect with people or check email if needed.

The Lake

The property also has a lake which is near the other house, but you can drive or walk to it. There is a paddleboat you can take out on the lake, or you can just sit and relax by it.

Horse Rides

As I stated above, there is horseback riding available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides. I would recommend doing that as it’s a great way to see the property and relax, you can read more about it here.

Wineries

If you are looking to explore wineries, as I am sure you are in Paso Robles, these three are all within 15-20 minutes.

Still Water Winery

This is a smaller winery, but it has live music on the weekends and a relaxed vibe with great people working there.

Sculpterra

Sculpterra is one of my favorites in Paso Robles as it has lots of unique sculptures to explore around the property.

Cass Winery

This is a great spot for lunch as they have excellent food and you can do a wine tasting while eating the food.

All in all, if you are looking for a great spot to set up a home base for exploring Paso Robles, or for a wedding or event, it is hard to beat HorseTail Ranch. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments, I honestly can’t wait to visit again.

Disclosure: this stay was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Carrizo Plain National Monument: Soda Lake, Finding Wildflowers & Exploring the Park

Carrizo Plain National Monument is a beautiful range of mountains and valleys in Central California that has been relatively untouched over the years, helping it to maintain a glimpse of what California used to look like. The sprawling green hills, which are covered in wildflowers during the spring, give way to a lush lowland with everything from historic farms to the alkaline and often dry Soda Lake. You could easily spend a few days exploring the area, but if you are looking for wildflowers then right now (April 2017) is the time to go. Here is all the information on the park and the wildflowers at the bottom.

Details

  • Free to enter
  • Location: 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453

Getting There

The best way to the park is on Highway 58, coming from the coast or from Highway 5. Highway 58 will take you along a paved road all the way into the park. If you originate from the south, you can take Highway 166 to Soda Lake Road and into the park that way, but it is about 18 miles of dirt road that can be impassable after the rain and is generally much slower going then heading in via Highway 58. There is parking along the road and in small parking lots at the main areas. Note that most of the roads in the park are dirt. They were passable when I went but just be sure to take your time or a high clearance vehicle if you have one.

Carrizo Plains

The park is full of adventures, and most are easily accessible from the main road. Here are some of the highlights.

Soda Lake

Soda Lake is one of the largest alkaline lakes in all of California. It has no natural drainage point, so the water sits in the lake before eventually evaporating during the summer months.

If you go when the lake has water in it, it is beautiful to see it reflecting the surrounding hills. There are two main ways to see the lake which are as follows.

Soda Lake Overlook

This short, tenth of a mile hike takes you to the top of a hill that overlooks the lake below. It is a great vantage point of the valley below.

There are even some benches up here that you can relax at if you want to just sit and take in the view.

Soda Lake Boardwalk

This half-mile trail takes you out to the shores of Soda Lake so you can get up close to this body of water.

You can then walk along the elevated boardwalk that takes you along the coast and gives you a great spot to view animals and birds from.

There are interpretive plaques that tell you about the lake and its history as well.

Painted Rock

Painted Rock is one of the parks main destinations as it is a collection of Native American art that is one of the best known in California. The area is only accessible via a guided tour during the spring though and via self-registration permits during the summer. I haven’t gotten a chance to go yet, but I am sure it is amazing.

Traver Ranch

Along the southern portion of Soda Lake Road, Traver Ranch is a historic ranch that the park has preserved.

I was only able to view it from the road since it was closed to the public when I went but it was cool to see, and I would like to explore it more next time I go.

Wildflowers

If you are coming for wildflowers, then the spring is your best bet. In the spring of 2017, after all the rain we had, there is currently a super bloom that is something you really must experience for yourself. Here are the best spots I found to see the wildflowers.

Corner of Highway 58 and Seven Mile Road

As you enter the park from Highway 58, the views get better and better as you go along.

The best view by far in this area was at the corner of Highway 58 and the dirt road into the park known as Seven Mile Road.

The mountains along the left side of the road were literally covered in yellow, making it a fantastic place to experience the super bloom. There was a small dirt cow path that took you to the top of a small hill, and there was a massive bloom happening up there that I took a ton of pictures of.

Simmler Road

On the South side of the lake, there is another dirt road known as Simmler Road. This route takes you through a massive collection of yellow flowers on both sides of you as far as the eye can see.

It is a great place just to pull off and experience the bloom, as well as looking over the lake.

Soda Lake Road South

If you are going home to Southern California and you have a high clearance car, then it is worth exiting through Soda Lake Road to the south. If you are from Northern California, then I would not say this is worth driving all the way down for though as the blooms are just as good in the north part of the park.

On this road, after you pass Traver Ranch, there is an extensive collection of blooms off to your left in the surrounding mountains.

The road eventually gets up close to a range of hills before it exits the park and these hills were covered in yellow as well. I pulled off and took a bunch more photos here as well before making my way out of the park.

Video

I will be putting a video up later today with these spots, be sure to check back!

As you can see, Carrizo Plain is an amazing spot to explore, especially during the 2017 super bloom. If you have the time, it is worth the drive to see the amazing spectical. Let me know if you go in the comments and what you thought.

Knapps Castle: Hiking Santa Barbara’s Famous Mansion Ruins

Knapp’s Castle is a very popular hike in the hills above Santa Barbara both because it has fantastic views and because it is less than a mile round trip. The area is technically on private property so there is always the chance that the owner will revoke access to this popular spot but that has not been the case for the last few years. Be sure to treat the area with respect though. Here is all the information so you can hike it yourself.

Details

  • 1-mile round trip
  • 100 feet of elevation gain
  • Location: 3880 E Camino Cielo Santa Barbara, CA 93105 (Approx)

Getting There

Knapp’s Castle is located in the Santa Barbara hills, somewhat near Chumash Painted Cave State park. You will reach it by heading up Highway 154 and then turning off on Camino Cielo Road. After about three miles (one mile past Painted Cave Road) you will pass a gate on your left which marks the start of the hike.

The Trail

After parking along the road, you will want to walk past the gate and start down the dirt road. I went on a weekend, and there were a dozen or so other cars all parked there enjoying the hike.

The hike is all downhill on the way there so naturally, it is all uphill heading back. Just remember that if it is a hot day as there is not much shade.

As you hike downhill you will start getting better views of the canyon and hills in front of you. It is a pretty spectacular place spot for photography, especially at sunset. After turning the corner, you will see the ruins come into view.

These ruins are from a house built by George Knapp, founder of Union Carbide Chemicals, in 1918. The house stood until 1945 when it burned down in a forest fire and was not rebuilt.

The Ruins

The ruins here show that the house must have been pretty impressive with its huge floor plan and marvelous view.

There are at least four fireplaces that you can find around the ruins. It reminds me a little bit of the Wolf House in Sonoma County.

The most impressive part of the ruins are the arches though.

Accessed via a large set of stone stairs, the arches are still standing tall and are a photographers paradise on the property.

There is a lot to explore though so make sure to take your time and see in all.

Down from the main ruins is another room with a fireplace. The tree sitting outside of the room had a little rope swing on it which lots of people were enjoying. Be sure to be careful if you go on it though.

After exploring the ruins, make you way back up the half mile trial to your car. If you make it all the way up here, consider taking the short drive to Chumash Painted Caves State Park as well. It won’t take you longer then 10 minutes to see, but it’s still a fun little side trip.

All in all, I enjoyed Knapp’s Castle and can’t wait to check it out again the future. Let me know if you have been in the comments.

Point Castillo Walk in the Santa Barbara Harbor

Point Carrillo is a fantastic viewpoint on the harbor in Santa Barbara. It is accessed via an easy half-mile trail that is used by visitors and locals alike. If you are looking for a nice way to be active while staying in the city or a great viewpoint for sunrise then read on for all the information.

Details

  • 1-mile round trip
  • Flat
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Dog friendly
  • Location: 119 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Getting There

The walk to Point Castillo is reached from the Santa Barbara Harbor. There is paid parking and free 90-minute parking if you can find it. I recommend the earlier the better as that makes it easier to find parking.

The Trail

Setting out from the parking lot, you will proceed past the shops until you meet up with the paved cement path that will take you out to the point.

The path almost immediately passes a statue of a boy riding a Seashore which is a strong way to start the walk.

From here you just continue on the paved path as the views get better and better.

On your right, you will see the ocean and the beach.

On the left, you will see hundred of boats all lining the harbor.

I found both directions fun to look at while walking along the path. There are benches if you need seating while you are walking as well.

When you make it out to the end, you will see a small dirt area with two whale tails set up as benches.

There is also a statue out here dedicated to the people who have lost their lives at sea. I enjoyed sitting here and watching the waves crash on the rock jetty.

You will want to walk all the way to the end of the point which is only another 30 feet or so on the paved path.

From here you can get a good view of Sterns Wharf in front of you as well. After taking your time and exploring you will head back the way you came.

I would recommend you visit the maritime museum while you are here as well, which is near the shops. It’s a great quick stop with a lot of fun exhibits. Let me know what you think of this walk in the comments.

Los Agaves: Santa Barbara’s Best Mexican Restaurant

Over the last few years, Los Agaves has become a go-to spot for many travelers along Pacific Coast Highway, creating a raving fan club of which I am a part of. The restaurant shot to a whole new level though when it was #16 on the Yelp 100 best restaurants in 2016. Now, stopping by this modern Mexican food spot will almost always include waiting in a decent line just to place your order. It is worth the wait though as it has some of my favorite upscale Mexican food in California. Here is all the information so you can visit Los Agaves as well.

Details

  • Cost: $12-$15
  • Recommendation: I haven’t had anything I didn’t like here
  • Location: 600 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Getting There

After getting off Highway 101 at Milpas St, you will proceed about a mile and a half up the street before arriving at Los Agaves on your right. There is a small parking lot in the back, but if it is full, there is street parking as well.

The Restaurant

After arriving and finding parking, you will proceed into the restaurant where it is an “order at the counter and find a seat” type place.

Luckily the restaurant itself is large, and I never have trouble finding seating. They are usually pretty fast getting the food to you as well which is nice. Do be prepared to wait if you go on the weekend though as this is one of the most popular places in all of Santa Barbara.

I have tried a lot of different things, but here are some of my favorites:

Guacamole – As simple as it comes but fantastic. Pretty much just mashed avocado, which works since there are so many different types of salsa to choose from. The salsas run the gauntlet between mild avocado and super spicy.

Burrito Mojado – A wet burrito with grilled chicken or steak, pinto beans and queso fresco topped with Salsa Roja. I always choose steak as it is perfectly cooked, thin cut steak that’s full of flavor and juicy. They give you an ample portion in the burrito as well. I also like that the sauce that comes on top is sweeter then traditional enchilada sauce. It’s a unique flavor, and of course you can add more spice if you want with the salsas.

Agaves Burrito – One of their most ordered dishes, the Agaves Burrito is covered with a rich chipotle sauce and full of fish and shrimp. If you aren’t generally a fan of sauce then just ask for it on the side and you can add as much as you want. It’s a simple burrito with fresh seafood and that makes the flavors stand out a lot more. Comes with a salad that has a nice citrus dressing and a side of rice.

Chiles Norteños – Two chilies hollowed out and stuffed with shrimp, cheese and a spicy chipotle sauce. After being cooked it is served on a tortilla. The sauce and cheese make the dish rich and decadent. The dish is spicy though so be aware of that if you don’t like spice, but for me it was perfect. It’s like a chili reneno but in a much better way as the chipotle sauce adds a subtle sweet flavor to the dish.

Mocajetas – Served boiling hot with nopales, avocado, onion and chili pepper. They have home-made blue and white tortillas that come with it on the side. It is a massive amount of food and could be shared. The flavor is robust and smokey with a good amount of spice. The shrimp that is sitting in it takes on the flavor and is fantastic when you add them to the tortillas. The tortillas are soft and taste like they were right out of the oven.

All dishes come with a basket of chips, and they have a eight salsa bar you can partake in.

As you can no doubt see, I am a huge fan of Los Agaves. It is one of those places that really lives up to the hype and I got pretty much every time I drive up Highway 1. Be sure to let me know what your favorite dish is in the comments.

Maritime Museum in the Santa Barbara Harbor

The harbor of Santa Barbara is one of my favorite parts of the city to explore. It has the pleasant walk to Point Castillo, Stearns Wharf, and the Maritime Museum. The latter of which is one of the better ocean history-based museums I have seen. Here is all the information so you can check out this small but significant museum.

Details

  • Cost:$8
  • Hours: Daily from 10 AM – 5 PM, closed Wednesday (as of Jan 2017)
  • Location: 113 Harbor Way #190, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Getting There

From Sterns Wharf you will want to head out on Cabrillo Blvd until you reach Harbor Way. Turning in here will put you right next to the harbor. There is a paid lot, or you can often find parking that is free for 90 minutes.

The Museum

The museum is only one large room with an upstairs walkway and a downstairs. While it doesn’t seem like it would be that cool, it packs a lot of unique things to explore and learn about into the small space.

I paid my entry fee, grabbed a map and set out to explore the museum. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed:

The JIM Suit

This suit greets you right when you walk in, and it is one of the suits they made to create an atmosphere the diver is used to while in the depths of the sea. It’s crazy looking.

The Chumash Boat

Next, there is an area with an old Chumash boat, and that talks about the Chumash history in the area.

Diving Exhibits

In the back, there is a selection of diving masks which I was intrigued by. These rustic metal masks are awesome to see up close and they looked really heavy.

Tattoos

There is an exhibit in the back on the tattoos that sailors get and what they mean which was fun.

The Point Conception Lighthouse Lens

Right in the middle of the museum sits the main draw which is the Point Conception Lighthouse Lens. This massive glass lens used to sit at the top of the lighthouse to guide ships in, and it is in immaculate condition.

Heading upstairs, they had a roving exhibit from Ernest H. Brooks II which they said was the Ansel Adams of underwater photography. As a photographer myself I enjoyed seeing his black and white photos.

Looking through the Periscope

The highlight of the upper part of the museum was the actual working periscope they had.

I had never looked through one before, and it was great to look through as it was pointed out at the harbor and you could move it around.

Surfing Exhibit

There was an exhibit on surfing history and how it interacted with Santa Barbara’s history in the other corner of the upstairs.

The Oil Spill

Lastly, there was an exhibit on the oil spill that happened in this area and its impact.

The upstairs is also a great place to view the lighthouse lens up close as well since you are at a higher vantage point.

When you exit the museum, be sure to stop by the Purisima which was used by offshore divers and which greets visitors by the entrance.

I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I would have liked, but you can see that this is an impressive museum with a lot to explore. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

One Thousand Steps Beach: Santa Barbara’s Best Sunset Spot

It’s hard to pick a favorite beach in the Santa Barbara area, but if you really pushed me, I would probably say One Thousand Steps Beach. Located close to Shoreline Park but with no real parking area, this beach is almost never busy and it has some of the best coastal views in the entire area; you do have to walk down a good amount of steps to get to it though. Here is all the information so you can check it out yourself.

Details

  • Open sunrise to sunset
  • Requires you to walk down 100 or so steps
  • Only street parking around – read signs, so you don’t get a ticket
  • Location: 1429 Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Getting There

From downtown Santa Barbara you will want to head to Shoreline Drive and past Shoreline Park. Immediately past the park, there is a small street on the right called Santa Cruz Blvd. This street is where the entrance is to the park, and if you can find parking here then you are very lucky. If not there is parking on the streets around it but be sure to read the signs.

The Trail

After finding parking, you will want to proceed to the Santa Cruz Blvd which is where you access the trail down from. This is also an excellent viewpoint to look down at the beach from so check that out before heading down.

The trail from here is just stairs all the way down to the beach. I would say there are at least a hundred stairs, but I am not entirely sure.

Once you get to the bottom, you will be on the beach.

The beach here is not the traditional sand to water beach as it has mostly rocks leading out the water.

This makes it a lot of fun to explore for kids though as the rocks form makeshift tide pools all over the beach.

The coastal view down here is staggering, especially at sunset. You can usually see across to Channel Island National Park as well.

You can explore the beach in either direction to your heart’s content but do note you will be walking over big rocks, so it is somewhat slow going. I cannot stress enough how epic this spot is for sunset and it is a must visit in the city.

As you can see above this is a great place to spend some time in Santa Barbara. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think below.