after a coffee fix, S and i stopped by the santa barbara mission to walk around its gorgeous grounds. i may be a little biased seeing as i did my 4th grade missions project on the pink-accented building, but the santa barbara mission really is quite stunning. we snapped a few (dozen) photos and admired the chalk drawings covering the asphalt before getting back into the car en route to our activity.
with plenty of daylight still at our disposal and per the recommendation of my momma, S and i decided to check out the nearby santa barbara botanic garden next. a 65-acre oasis, the garden boasted a wide array of plant life- including purple and orange wildflowers that were at the peak of blooming. we followed the mile-long path through lush foliage, stopping occasionally to take in the stunning views and capture a few images on film (i.e. the nice digital camera).
after we finished our garden stroll, we headed back to the hotel to rest, change, and freshen-up for dinner. craving mexican food, we did a little yelp research to find los agaves, a casual place with two locations in town. S ordered his usual -two beef tacos with all rice, no beans, while i opted for the los agaves salad with avocado, mango, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, and the best mango dressing i have ever tasted.
after our meal, we headed back over near state street to check out the the funk zone – a neighborhood filled with local wineries, breweries, specialty shops, eateries and an amazing antique store called the blue door. the stuff was comically overpriced, but it was still fun to peruse the vintage gems.
after our tour through the funk zone, we were quite tuckered out, so we headed back to the hotel to watch more diners, drive-ins, and dives (bless food network and their marathons) and go to bed.
saturday morning we woke up to another sunny day, our last in the city. we took one final walk along the beach and up state street for coffee and returned for a quick bite off of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet. after packing up and checking out, we decided that a visit to the santa barbara zoo would be the perfect way to cap off the birthday weekend. growing up in oxnard for the first few years of my life, the santa barbara zoo holds many special memories -especially with my mom and grandparents, so i felt a bit of nostalgia as we entered the gates. we toured the grounds, taking in the sights (and smells) of zoo life –the otters, flamingos, elephants, lions, and my personal favorite –the giraffes (rip gemina, the crooked necked giraffe). we managed to cover the 16 acres in little less than two hours, which was perfect since by the time we were leaving, the zoo was becoming quite crowded with families and their many little ones in tow.
we hit the 101 southbound en route to tustin for one final stop before heading home. S’s brother works at portola coffee lab -an artisan coffee shop and roastery with locations all over orange county, so we made a special visit to see him in action. he treated us to a flat white and flat brown (just like a flat white but with mocha), complete with fancy latte art and everything.
after our little caffeine boost, we completed the last leg of our journey down the coast. it was so nice to get home on a saturday evening, knowing we still had a full day of weekending left to run errands, grocery shop, and do the piles of laundry from the trip.
in reflecting on this weekend, i just want to reiterate how grateful i am for every single one of the well wishes i received over the course of our vacation. i was actually brought to tears a few different times from the sweet sentiments. so thank you for making me feel so loved and celebrated and for reminding me of what an amazing arsenal of humans i have surrounding me. i could not have asked for a more perfect way to ring in the dawning of a new year/decade.
and to the man with whom i shared each of this weekend’s adventures, thank you for being the answer to every birthday wish for the last twelve years. you made my final year of my 20’s one i’ll never forget and i can’t wait to continue making memories with you in my 30’s, too.
quick links to the places/restaurants we visited:
where to eat/drink:
haute cakes caffe (newport beach, ca)
blush restaurant + lounge (santa barbara, ca)
backyard bowls (santa barbara, ca)
los agaves (santa barbara, ca)
portola coffee lab (tustin, ca)
where to stay:
brisas del mar inn at the beach (santa barbara, ca)
what to do:
camarillo outlets (camarillo, ca)
shopping on state street (santa barbara, ca)
wine tasting | gainey vineyards & kalyra winery (santa ynez, ca)
old mission santa barbara (santa barbara, ca)
santa barbara botanic garden (santa barbara, ca)
santa barbara zoo (santa barbara, ca)
the funk zone (santa barbara, ca)