Koop's Scoop

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day visit to Santa Barbara, CA

Memorial Day visit to Santa Barbara, CA We had a great visit to see cousin Laurel in Santa Barbara, CA over Memorial Day weekend.

We headed out on a Saturday morning and had an easy trip down the coast.

We arrived in time for a late lunch and spent the afternoon exploring the area. There was a great craft fair being held on at the park on the ocean.

Later, we picked up Laurel for dinner at a restaurant on the Wharf. The pelicans were very entertaining. The people fishing would feed them by tossing fish into the air and the pelicans would snatch the fish right out of the air.

We stayed at the Hotel Pacifica on the west side of town. It is the site of a historic building owned by a man who revolutionized the nursery business when California was just being developed. (We can thank him for many of the imported flora). The room was well worth the price. It was a large two room suite. We asked for an additional folding bed and all four of us slept very comfortably. (The kids don’t share a bed very well anymore). The lobby had free beer, wine and soda for Happy Hour. In the morning there was a free breakfast for all guests (made to order). The pool was great and the hot tub even better.
Hotel website: http://www.pacificasuites.com/

On Sunday morning we tried to go on a whale watch to see the Channel Islands, but we ‘bailed’ after the harbor patrol declared a small craft warning and the tour operator advised that gale winds that would prevent us from getting close to the Channel Islands. Instead, we spent the morning riding our bikes on the city’s self guided tour. We stopped at the Stearns Wharf and went the "Ty Warner Sea Center". The highlight for me was bottom dredging at the working sea lab. The kids got to touch baby leopard sharks and a variety of other sea creatures. The candy shop on the wharf is a "must" stop too!
Ty Warner Sea Center: http://www.sbnature.org/seacenter/ .

The bike tour also took us to the beautiful City Hall and we got to see a panoramic view of Santa Barbara from the top of one of the towers. We didn’t ride all the way to the mission, but we had a nice lunch at a restaurant across the street from the City Hall's gardens.

After our bike ride, we picked up Laurel and drove to the Mission Santa Barbara for the "I Madonnari" Italian Chalk Art festival and fair. The Mission is stunning and the self guided tour was very informative. Katie was recalling what she learned about the missions from her California history class. The kids loved the gift shop. The chalk art festival was wonderful! We stayed until 5PM to hear a musical performance in the Mission's chapel.
Mission: http://sbmission.org/home.html
Festival: http://www.imadonnarifestival.com/im.html

After that we headed to the Botanic Gardens for a brief visit. Laurel really wanted us to see the house from the “Wind in the Willows”, next time we will get there earlier. Learn more about the Gardens here: http://www.sbbg.org/.

On Monday, we headed to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. This is a small, but "full" museum. The kids loved the visit and especially the whale skeleton in the park area outside the museum. You can learn more here: http://sbnature.org/.

For dinner, we found a great Italian restaurant (using one of the SB local websites) with an outdoor Bocce ball courtyard called Arnoldi's. Great fun! We even got Laurel to try her hand at a game of Bocce. See them here: http://www.santabarbara.com/dining/review_read.asp?pk_restaurant=585 .

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to SB and headed to our appointment at the Hearst Castle. The trip up the coast was beautiful. We stopped at a small Mexican restaurant near the castle for lunch, called El Chorlito. http://www.elchorlito.com/ .

The Hearst Castle itself is beyond description. You have to experience it to begin to understand how impressive it is... Our tour guide was very funny and immensely informative. We want to go back for the evening tour (full period costumes, music, etc). See more here: http://www.hearstcastle.com/ .

We headed home very satisfied and happy.

Photo Journal: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=76k8a4n.b04l0qpb&x=1&y=-vvy19v


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