- Take in the unique Danish architecture of Solvang
- Visit Santa Barbara's wine county with tastings in Los Olivos
- Enjoy the views of the Pacific coast from Stearns Wharf
Time to leave the city behind and head up the coast for a full day visit to one of Southern California's favorite seaside towns, Santa Barbara. This city, known for its laid back vibes and beautiful coastlines, offers plenty to do besides strolling along its famed beaches. From Los Angeles, hop in your car and make the journey north up the 101 for a little over two hours.
Don't stop just yet as you approach Santa Barbara, and instead continue on a bit further north for about 30 minutes to reach the town of Solvang. This small village in the Santa Ynez Valley is known for its unique Danish-style architecture and atmosphere. Spend an hour strolling through Solvang and admiring its charming European style houses, windmills, and boutique shops. Don't forget to pop into one of its many renowned bakeries, like Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, to start your morning with a cup of coffee and a fresh danish.
From there, hop back in your car and make the 10-minute drive to nearby Los Olivos. This area of just a few square blocks is home to around 25 wine tasting rooms. We recommend trying Zinke Wine Co. to start, for a classic experience tasting the local specialty. From harvesting to bottling, you'll learn about the unique region and everything that goes into your glass of wine.
Afterward, drive down the 40 minutes to Santa Barbara where you'll head straight to the city's Funk Zone. This once industrial area of warehouses has been revamped and is now home to an array of restaurants, shops, wine tasting rooms, and outdoor art and murals to admire. Head over to the Lucky Penny and grab a table outside to enjoy the sunshine and a wood-oven baked pizza for a late lunch.
After lunch, make your way to Stearns Wharf, just a short walk away. Stroll up and down the pier admiring the sights and sounds of California's oldest working wharf. Cool off in the afternoon sea breeze and soak up the views of the Pacific coast and the surrounding beaches before heading back to your car and making your way home.
However, if you do have a little more time and want to break up the driving, you can extend your trip with an overnight in Santa Barbara and spend the next morning exploring the downtown and Old Mission before making the drive back to Los Angeles.