Jan 29, 2011
DRIVE TO SANTA BARBARA
It is only 150 miles from Monterey to Santa Barbara. However, with the stupendously scenic route that is also a harrowing twisting turning drive for about 50 miles, plus the number of stops to simply enjoy this majestic part of our country, it took us about five hours to get there. And that was without stopping for lunch.
On one of the stops we saw a group of elephant seals. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see why they are called "elephant" seals.
FESS PARKER HOTEL
The Fess Parker Doubletree Hotel is the only hotel in Santa Barbara that’s close to the center of town that faces the ocean. Although there is a street between the hotel and the beach, as long as you get a second floor room (there are only two floors) facing the ocean, you can have a fantastic view. Its rates were very reasonable at this time of year and it belongs to the Hilton group of which we are members. We checked out other hotels and this is definitely the place to stay when visiting Santa Barbara. It is on 25 acres and is spread out in villa style residences with lots of green space for trees and flowers. It’s beautiful!
The Reservation Manager, Breanne Szabados, was very good to us and gave us the Presidential Suite.
This hotel is where politicians and celebrities stay for conferences. In fact, Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to be a speaker at a political event at the hotel shortly after our stay.
The name of the hotel, Fess Parker, sounded familiar to us but we couldn’t really connect it with anyone famous we knew of. As we were ending our stay in Santa Barbara, we went into the hotel gift shop to buy some sundries and saw a coonskin hat. This seemed quite incongruous for southern California. So we asked the gift shop clerk about it and she said it was the type of hat Fess Parker, who, surprisingly, was the owner of the hotel, wore when he starred in movies as Daniel Boone. His image immediately came to mind. We were then to learn that he had recently passed away.
The hotel is about a mile to the beginning of State Street, the main street in the town of Santa Barbara. Then it is another ½ mile to the heart of town.
As walking is a big part of what we do on our trips to both see lots of places and keep healthy, we enjoyed our walks to downtown.
However, there is excellent and very inexpensive local public transportation available in front of the hotel. It’s also a way to meet both locals and tourists and get some inside information.
WALK TO TOWN
Just as you get from the hotel to State Street, there is a long pier, Sterns Wharf. Another ¼ mile farther along is another long pier. Each one is worth visiting for the shops and numerous restaurants where you can get delicious seafood meals.
SANTA BARBARA MISSION
When the Spaniards occupied what is now California, they built Catholic missions all along the coast. One of them was what is now called the Santa Barbara Mission. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, well worth a visit.
THE BILTMORE HOTEL
The Biltmore Hotel is a Four Seasons Hotel located on the oceanfront about two miles south of the Fess Parker Hotel. One day we walked there and it was well worth the effort. It is a beautiful elegant Spanish style hotel where we had a delicious lunch looking out at the ocean.
It is also an easy drive to get there.
As beautiful as it is, it is too far from everything as a place to stay, unless you want to drive to wherever you want to go and to whatever you want to see.
Just a short walk from The Biltmore is the small, quaint, upscale main street of Montecito where the rich and famous shop and eat.
SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL
There was some excitement during our stay as the annual Santa Barbara Film Festival was being held downtown at the local theatres. One of the famous stars being honored was three time Academy Award nominee, Annette Benning for her role in “The Kids Are All Right” and other films.
Following are a few additional photos of beautiful Santa Barbara.