Living the SoCal Life
A year and nine months ago, I moved back to Southern California from New York City. Why? I missed The SoCal Life. The beaches, my bike rides, hiking, the mountains, snowboarding, wakeboarding – all of this in sunny, 70-degreee weather. There are two things I love about SoCal – people are active year-round and there are countless beaches stretching from San Diego up to Santa Barbara. I live in Santa Monica/Los Angeles which is right in the middle, 2 hours north and 2 hours south, so its the perfect location to live the SoCal Life.
Santa Barbara, CA
December 1, 2013
I am highly impressed by The Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara. From the moment I pulled into valet, I was treated with five-star service. I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite (thank you Kimpton Inner Circle) and the hosts at reception were so welcoming. Truly, hands down, the best and top notch hotel loyalty program service of all Kimpton hotels I have stayed at. They even honored all of my Inner Circle preferences, from the type of wine to gourmet presentation of the prosciutto and fresh fruit.
I always love being greeted with a smile anywhere I go – and I love giving them even more. The staff at the reception was friendly and made me feel like I was returning “home” and actually, I was (I went to UCSB). A smile can go a long way and can brighten a person’s day. I had just spent 4 hours traveling from Los Angeles in traffic, so I was a bit agitated, but a simple smile took all of that away.
When I opened the doors to my suite, I was welcomed by a living room and past the French doors was the Canary Hotel’s signature canopy bed. From the patterns of the furniture to the artistic detail of the mosaic tiles in the bathroom, the room was gorgeous! Even more breathtaking were the views from the rooftop – a 360 view of Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara is just an hour and a half (or two to three depending on traffic) north of Los Angeles. The climate is similar to the Mediterranean and has been known as the ‘American Riviera.’ Having traveled to the French Riviera, I believe it. The charm and architecture that Santa Barbara possesses is the closest Southern California has to the Mediterranean. Just tonight, as the sun was setting filling the sky with pink and purple hues, I felt as if I were in a town in Europe. The beauty of light reflecting off the mountain ranges, the red tiled rooftops, the houses nestled on the hillside, and the ocean in the distance was absolutely stunning.
I took an evening walk on State Street before dinner. My old favorite restaurants still exist – Pascucci’s and the Thai restaurant Zach and I used to go to (Galanga Thai) – we were obsessed with Indian and Thai food at the time. While the pizza place in the middle of Paseo Nuevo had closed (I remember grabbing a slice or two there), Sharkeez and Joe’s were still up and running and a few new places have popped up. Oh, those were the days… college…I was so so young. I’m a different person now – older, wiser (much wiser). I used to be the struggling college student working 2-3 jobs and now I’m living my dream and traveling the world, well trying to, one country at a time. After my evening stroll reminiscing about my college days along State Street, I sat upstairs on the hotel roof deck by the fireplace with a glass of wine as I waited for my college roommate to arrive for dinner. We had dinner at Finch & Fork which was absolutely delicious! We had the Shaved Pear Salad, Marissa ordered the Sea Scallops (my favorite), I had the Sea Bass, a glass of Margerum ‘Sybarite’ Sauvignon Blanc, and we shared the Panna Cotta for dessert. From the food to the service, overall, Finch & Fork is 5-stars!
The next morning, I went on a 6-mile bike ride along the beach. I always knew Santa Barbara was beautiful but seeing the calm ocean water, the palm trees, people starting their morning, and then hearing the sound of the train, the beauty of the town really did remind of the riviera. If I had more time, I would have made it to Butterfly Beach, which by the Four Seasons Biltmore.
I’m glad I came up to Santa Barbara because I’ve been contemplating going to Spain this December. I had forgotten that Santa Barbara is full of Spanish history and the influence is seen all over town. The Old Mission, the town street names, the festivals, and in fact, UCSB’s mascot is the Gaucho. When my room at the hotel was turned down, they even left “Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain” next to my robe, chocolates, and binoculars for bird watching. I think it’s a sign, my next travel adventure will be Espana!