What To Do

Spend Your Day Ray's Way

Written by Ray Estrada 

Your best friends are visitingSanta Barbara for the first time and ask you, "What should we do? Where should we go? What's the best place to eat?"

And you say, "Well, do have about two hours and I'll give some suggestions."

Let's start at the beginning: breakfast? Scores of restaurants on and around State Street serve avariety of morning meals. Perhaps the oldest spot for a hearty breakfast isJoe's Cafe on State and Cota streets.

Some waterfront breakfast or brunch spots can be found along Cabrillo Boulevard, such as Eladio's, which is on State Street at the mouth of Stearns Wharf. Several fine restaurants serve breakfast and brunch right on the wharf with its great ocean view. The Harbor Restaurant and Moby Dick's are popular wharf eateries.

For an amazing Sunday brunch with a great ocean view, try the Four Seasons Biltmore's Bella Vista, which has at least nine food stations ranging from made-to-order-omelets, tamales, seafood and leg of lamb.

Time for some sight-seeing to walk off that morning meal. The most popular landmark in the city is the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse with its Moorish-inspired, early Californian architecture and adjacent Sunken Garden. Docents often give free, guided tours of the courthouse, which has a panoramic view of the ocean, mountains and city.

Also popular for sight-seers is the Old Mission, 2201 Laguna St., the Presidio on Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara streets, and the Museum of Art on State and Anapamu streets. Shopping along State Street is another popular pastime.

Time for lunch? Santa Barbara has long been known for its restaurants andhas scores of them. Venturing for a mid-day mealtoward Montecito can bring you to Coast Village Road where many lunch spots can be found such as the Honor Bar Los Arroyos and Lucky's.

For some of the best seafood in town, head to the harbor and try Brophy Bros. orChuck's, where the food and view are worth the usual long wait. Take a scenic walk along the breakwater while waiting for your table. And whenyou're done with lunch, head next door to the Maritime Museum, which is always fun.

Got kids? The newest attraction is Moxi, the Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation, which has 17,000 square feet of interactive scientific and creative, hands-on exhibits. Moxi also has one of the best rooftop views in town.

How about some entertainment? While several downtown theaters screen the latest movies, several live entertainment venues are within walking distance of each other: the Lobero, the Granada and Arlington theaters.

Time for dinner. Most of the previously mentioned restaurants that serve lunch also have sumptuous dinnermenus. An out-of-the-way favorite for sushi and other Japanese food is Ichiban, 1812 Cliff Drive, on the area known as the Mesa.

Most types of cuisine can be found in Santa Barbara: steak, poultry, shellfish, pasta and lots and lots of pizza. Some 25 spots on and around State Street serve pizza, including two very high-end restaurants on Victoria Street, Olio y Limone and Ca' Dario.

Santa Barbara also puts on several unique annual events ranging from Old Spanish Day Fiesta, which dates back to the 1800s, and Summer Solstice Celebration and Parade, which started almost half a century ago. Parades for those events are held on State Street.

However, if none of those suggestions appeals to you, there's always Santa Barbara's most visible attraction: its sandy, beaches.