Our Hawaii plans were not viable because of work scheduling, so we decided to take a long weekend up the coast for our babymoon. Our first stop was Santa Barbara, which I had suggested since I had been here some 15 years ago while in high school and loved it. Our first stop was the historic courthouse, which is beautiful, and features a really high tower with an unbeatable view.
The first time I came, a couple was getting married at the top of the viewing deck. It was just the two of them and their officiant, which I thought was super romantic. (I guess as impressed and moved as I was by the simplicity and charm of that wedding, it did not prevent me from having a 160 person wedding). After walking around the grounds and enjoying the landscaping and views, I seriously questioned how lawyers ever get any work done here. I also admired the comparatively limited security measures seemingly involved. Most of the courthouse and grounds were entirely open to the public without any ostensible security personnel or measures. We saw a few metal detectors sitting unused in the hallways, but that was about it.
For lunch, we stopped by a place called Brass Bear Brewing & Bistro. We ordered a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, which seemed a bit overpriced, but honestly was really delicious. The flavors were really unique, as the bread was some kind of hipster artisan olive-rosemary bread. The porter Kyle ordered was really more like a deep brown, but oh well.
Next, we visited the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. To call this place a garden is probably a gross understatement, as it’s more like a gigantic park. Visitors who want to take their time meandering the trails and different areas could easily while away 2 hours without seeing the same thing twice. We sat in a grove of redwoods for some time and read before moving onto the recently built conservatory area, which featured a nice patio seating area and had beautiful views (below left). Because it was a Thursday, there were very few people around, making for a very peaceful visit.
Another reason I’d long wanted to return to Santa Barbara was to hang out on State Street, which is lined with bars and restaurants and comes alive with live music at night. When I came with my parents I was like 16 years old, and decided I would return once I was 21 to carouse in this area. Unfortunately, at this time, I was 32 and pregnant, so it was yet again an inopportune time to imbibe. Nevertheless, we hit up a bunch of fun places. Before hitting up State Street, we started with happy hour at a French place called Stella Mares. The place was a bit snooty (way to feed the stereotypes, guys), but the Croque Madame and deviled eggs were both fantastic. The atmosphere was very French country and the restaurant was filled with old people who appeared to coincidentally color coordinate their attire. Almost everyone present was wearing a shade of navy, monochrome, or yellow, to match the yellow accent decor in the restaurant; I found this very strange.
Next, we made our way to State Street, walked around with no particular aim, and ended up at The Red Piano, a piano bar, where we danced to live music and participated in a chorus line. The Red Piano was sort of burlesque themed, with red velvet curtains, brass chandeliers, and vintage photos of topless women on the walls. Very fun vibes, and quite a bit of action for a Thursday night.
After Red Piano, we heard some folksy/bluegrassy music while Kyle had a Belgian beer at Hoffman Brat & Brewhouse. I had a German potato salad, which was only $3 and came in a much larger portion than I expected. The music was our favorite for the night. We ended the night with lamb mo-mos (dumplings) and chicken vindaloo at Himalayan Kitchen.