On an impressive sweep of California shore, chateaus, stunning beaches, arcades and mission-style design beckon.

California with its incredible diversity and miles of coastline, needs no introduction. Brilliant for a road trip and a must stop being Santa Barbara. With sunshine glistening off abundant Spanish tilework and a nonchalant breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean, the town is almost too enjoyable, like it has been wrapped and gold-plated for supreme delight. Santa Barbara’s utmost charm and what has drawn vacationers for epochs, is definitely the ocean. Even in the winter there are means to get a savour of the Ocean, for example if you are not cruising, you can get your Sea food fix at the fish market early in the morning. That peculiarity spreads to the wine scene, too. You can also jaunt the Santa Barbara Trolley, break at the eminent ‘funk zone’ where numerous wineries and breweries have opened up modern restaurants and bars in antiquated refurbished warehouses, take a vessel trip from the harbour, a great way to watch the magnificent sunset. While sailing along the coast with the milieu of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Channel Islands at a gap, one often spots see California sea lions, dolphins and a variety of coastal birds. Discover Santa Barbara from the ocean aboard a private cruise with a captain on Santa Barbara Sailing Center’s Catalina 42’ markII Four Cabin Centreline model. Head to State Street for swish boutiques and eateries suggesting homegrown wines and seasonal fare.  Check out the zoo, amble on the beach, and if that’s not enough, just sit and eat Seafood on the celebrated pier.

The first thing you see when you walk into the lobby of the Belmond El Encanto is the Pacific Ocean sparkling yonder the enormous restaurant terrace. El Encanto, watching the Channel Islands in the distance, is a ninety-minute drive from Los Angeles. No, it’s not in the heart of the town, but the vision and harmony more than make up for it. No road is hearable nor noticeable from here. A torrent of butterflies conceals one wall in the lobby; an affirmation to the hotel’s setting on the butterfly journey track. An appreciation of history grips to this Santa Barbara symbol with its meandering lanes and quixotic chalets, which have lodged guests ranging from Clark Gable to FDR to in the bygone era. Hollywood’s A-list still likes to getaway to this crest sanctuary, with the stylish seaside town extent out like a movie set under. Though moderately small, it is spread athwart seven acres of opulent slanted gardens, so each bungalow feels very private. Some watch the ocean, others the gardens, which comprise a lily pond with relaxing turtles – apparently made of stone, until one glistens its eyes. Their laziness summarises the stress-free atmosphere of the hotel. Accommodations are well-appointed in cream, pale green and beige with leather armchairs. Some rooms have fireplaces and bookshelves, with titles such as The Fabulous Fifties and, appropriately for such a hospitable hotel, A Place Called Home. Most rooms have verandas or alfresco patios; the very best have sizeable reserved walled patio gardens with rattan furniture. The lone restaurant includes a spacious outdoor terrace and an elegant indoor dining room. The menu is exceptionally robust on first rate seafood: a main course of king crab with grilled sushi rice cake is a standout.

Downtown Santa Barbara is packed with degustation rooms run by the area’s wineries, where you can sip on a varied range of varietals, counting many a grape I had never even heard of. My favourite is located at the Hotel Californian at the crook of Mason Street and Helena Avenue in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone quarter, this boutique, family-run winery is dedicated to making handmade little production wines that have distinctive characteristics and character. Margerum opened its tasting room in the summer of 2019. A photographer back in 2016, captured ex-President Barack Obama, toasting with Margerum’s Sybarite, created from an amalgam of sauvignon blanc grapes, through Obama’s White House State Dinner. Margerum’s Riviera Rosé, served in an old-style bottle or a flip-top can, has established a crowd-puller in warm summer months. The winery’s spirits, including amaro, vermouth and marc, make for gorgeous post-dinner drinks. Don’t leave without trying the amaro ice cream by homegrown Rori’s Artisanal Creamery or the amaro sorbet by Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolates, both made particularly for Margerum and accessible only at the tasting room. In adding to handcrafting the Margerum and Barden brands (mainly Rhône and Burgundian varietal wines), winemaker Doug Margerum also creates the wines for Happy Canyon Vineyard, midst other brands. All in all, Santa Barbara can sometimes feel like it’s bursting of distractions from existent life — a town made for a holidaymaker’s relaxed mind. Sometimes that’s precisely what we need.
Awarded the “Best food writer in the country” by the Indian culinary forum, WACS and the ministry of Tourism, Rupali Dean writes on food and travel.

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