In the Mood for Love

Up the romance ante on your next getaway to The American Riviera with these swoon-worthy itinerary additions.

Santa Barbara is a destination for romance in all seasons. Among the many sensory delights that will enhance your next romantic getaway are the subtle fragrances of jasmine, rosemary and orange blossom wafting through the air; plus, the sound of waves crashing, birds singing and palm fronds rustling in the gentle sea breezes. The visual splendor includes Mediterranean-style buildings that look straight out of a movie set—and make you feel like you might just be in Europe. Everywhere you turn, see splashes of fuchsia bougainvillea and lush gardens accented by pops of orange Birds of Paradise. The sunrises and sunsets are majestic events in their own right. And the regional food and libations add another dimension to enjoying life’s simple pleasures when on vacation. So, when you’re in the mood for love, let time slow down and savor some of these activities on your next visit.

The World is Your Oyster
Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac, and the ritual of eating oysters on the half shell is a delight worth sharing with the one you love. We are fans of the preparation at The Lark, where they are a staple of the dinner menu and come pre-dressed in the granita of the season. Broad Street Oyster Co. is a very welcome addition to our oyster scene, now open from lunch until late at 415 State Street. Sustainable seafood leader Kanaloa Seafood is another reliable source for a casual dozen. Lure Fish House works magic with charbroiled oysters, while Brophy Bros. and Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. serve them up with Harbor and Stearns Wharf views.

Sip & Sparkle
Champagne and sparkling wines are another aphrodisiac—and also pair very well with oysters! If you’re more interested in the bubbles, head to the Funk Zone for a glass or tasting flight at Riverbench, one of the region’s top producers of sparkling wines. Santa Barbara Wine Collective also offers a sparkling flight featuring local producers, while tasting rooms like Melville, Kunin Wines and Santa Barbara Winery typically pour their sparkling wines while supplies last.

Picnic Perfection
Santa Barbara’s parks are prime picnicking grounds. Pack your own picnic with provisions from a sandwich shop or deli such as C’est Cheese, Panino, Metropulos Fine Foods or Lazy Acres and head to a scenic grassy expanse like the Mission Rose Garden, Alice Keck Park or Shoreline Park. Spread out a blanket (or borrow our pool towels) and soak up the sunshine and ambiance as you snack and sip. If you really want to impress your love, work with a picnic producer like Santa Barbara Picnic Co. to stage an elaborate and luxurious al fresco feast, complete with linens, flowers and floor pillows.

A Walk to Remember
There are so many lovely spots to stroll hand-in-hand with your partner.The Douglas Family Preserve is an easy meandering trail offering a sense of solitude and sweeping coastal views from the bluffs above Arroyo Burro Beach. Also known as Hendry’s Beach, Arroyo Burro is a great spot to walk in the sand—if you head towards the right at low tide, you can walk for miles. A peaceful walk through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is well worth the modest price of admission. And Ellwood Mesa in Goleta is a wildlife habitat where Monarch Butterflies stop to hang out in the eucalyptus groves on their annual migration.

Share a Sunset
Taking the time to watch the sunset is a popular local pastime in Santa Barbara. Butterfly Beach in Montecito serves up a quintessential sunset view with the crescent of the harbor and Cabrillo waterfront glittering in the distance. The end of Stearns Wharf and benches at Shoreline Park are other key viewing locations. And if you love the idea of being on the water, book a sunset cruise with Santa Barbara Sailing Center.

Tables for Two
You can’t go wrong cozying up together in small, intimate bars, restaurants and cafes with delicious food and drinks. Pop into The Good Lion for excellent craft cocktails and sultry atmosphere. We’ve been sending our guests to Bouchon for decades thanks to their impeccable service, impressive wine list and gourmet wine country cuisine. Arnoldi’s Café is a local classic for affordable Italian fare—request a booth for more privacy. Toma and Olio e Limone are equally solid bets for a romantic Italian feast. Yoichi’s is a splurge-worthy multi-course Japanese dining experience and Bibi Ji serves up memorable contemporary Indian fare in stylish setting.

When you’re ready for your romantic experience in Santa Barbara, book one of our romantic inns to round out your getaway.