72 Hours in Santa Barbara Over Labor Day Weekend

Summer is winding to a close, which means that Labor Day Weekend is right around the corner. If you're sitting there deciding whether to spend your long weekend at the beach, hiking in the mountains, or eating your way though a culinary paradise, then you've found the right place. Santa Barbara with its mountainous backdrop, stunning coastline and the best of vineyards, has all of the above, and more.


Brioche Breakfast 7:00 a.m.

Start your day with breakfast at Bree'osh, a tiny French café specializing in sweet and savory brioche bread. You can have your brioche sweet – almond cream, chocolate hazelnut, or cinnamon roll, salty – kalamata olive/basil, or as a sandwich – choose from a variety of egg sandwiches, a croque monsieur, or a croque madame. If you're feeling an early morning sweet tooth, try the raspberry chocolate almond brioche bread pudding. Rest assured, Bree'osh also offers whatever you need for a coffee fix.

Bike Tour Through Wine Country 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Meet your I Bike Santa Barbara Wine Tours guide at the designated pick-up location for a leisurely bike ride through Santa Barbara's wine country. The tour company has wonderfully knowledgeable guides; and tours include a bike and helmet, olive oil AND wine tasting, and a picnic lunch with fresh salad and charcuterie. Choose from The Classic, a 15-mile loop beginning and ending in Los Olivos; or The Jaunt, a 9-mile ride from Los Olivos to Solvang. Don't worry too much if you're not a great bike rider. The tours allow for plenty of breaks and the guides are quite accommodating to the overall feel of the group. Also, wine tasting happens after biking, so you won't be biking and drinking.
Tip: Tours must be booked by the afternoon before your tour.

Dinner 7:00 p.m.

Wind down with dinner and drinks at Nectar Eatery & Lounge, a farm-to-chef kind of place featuring local foods with amazing flavor combinations. Favorites include the dates & prosciutto or steak bites appetizers; and the filet mignon or wild salmon entrees.
Tip: Opt to sit at the little outdoor balcony overlooking the street.


Morning Coffee at Handlebar Coffee Roasters 9:00 a.m.

Start your day right with the best coffee in Santa Barbara. At Handlebar Coffee Roasters, a hipster-esque little place with a bicycle theme, favorites include the almond milk latte, cold brew, a delicious almond croissant and kombucha on tap.

Santa Barbara Courthouse 11:00 a.m.

Spend an hour in the Santa Barbara Courthouse, with its beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, elaborate interior and mural room, a wonderful sunken garden, and a tower lookout for you to take in sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

Lunch at Padaro Beach Beach Grill 12:30 p.m.

Grab burgers and beer on tap at Padaro Beach Grill, and find outdoor seating pretty much on Padaro Beach. Top items to order include the Maui Burger or Fire Roasted Chili Burger – make it a double for an extra $1.50, grilled fish tacos, and sweet potato fries.

Afternoon Walk to Santa Claus Beach 2:00 p.m.

Walk the ½ mile down to Santa Claus Beach, a favorite local spot to boogie board and watch the surfers hang. You can also take a nice walk north of the beach and spy out pretty homes along Padaro Lane.

Sunset Horseback Riding Tour 4:30 p.m.

Watch the sunset on horseback with Los Padres Outfitters. Their tours are for riders of all levels, and Los Padres guides will lead you through some magnificent lookout points before descending to the shoreline to watch the sunset.
Tip: Beach rides are scheduled according to the tide, so call ahead to make an appointment.

Lure Fish House 7:00 p.m.

End your day with dinner at Lure Fish House. One of the best seafood restaurants in Santa Barbara, Lure is famous for their charbroiled oysters, lobster rolls, and crab cakes.


Build-Your-Own-Hash for Breakfast 9:00 a.m.

Build-Your-Own-Hash for breakfast at Dawn Patrol. Select your base - russet potatoes or sweet potatoes; meat - shredded chicken, bacon, or salmon; cheese, spinach, and mushrooms; eggs - in the style of your choice; and top with hollandaise, gravy, fire roasted salsa, or herb aioli. Each BYO hash is served with salad and toast.

Butterflies Alive! at the Museum of Natural History 11:00 a.m.

Catch the last day of the Butterflies Alive! Exhibit in a lush green garden at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Butterflies Alive! showcases more than 16 different varieties of butterflies, including the Great Southern White and Giant Swallowtail that are local to Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara Public Market Lunch 12:30 p.m.

Eat lunch at Santa Barbara Public Market, choosing from craft waffles, a fusion noodle bar, fresh seafood at the fish market, homemade pasta, and more. Don't forget to save room for an organic ice cream cone at Rori's Artisanal Creamery.

Hike 7 Falls or Inspiration Point 3:00 p.m.

Inspiration Point is the easier hike, about 3.5 miles roundtrip, leading to a lookout point with scenic views of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. Or, you can try for the super picturesque 7 Falls, where you'll need to bust out your bouldering skills to get you to the 7 Falls water pools. It takes about 2.5 steep miles to get to 7 Falls and back.

Mexican Dining at Los Agaves 7:30 p.m.

End the long weekend with traditional Mexican dishes at Los Agaves, featuring a full menu with daily specials, local wines, and draft beer. Their burritos and fresh fish are delicious; the Molcajetes is served, steaming, in a lava rock bowl; and their horchata is 5-stars and homemade.

Christina Wong is a Bay Area native who loves to travel the world, but always finds her way back to California.