it’s not every day you mark 30 rotations around the sun. so in thinking about how i wanted to ring in the milestone, i knew it had to be something extraordinary. while a trip to europe was definitely in the preliminary brainstorming, logistics (and budget) tabled that idea for another occasion. so after a bit more researching, santa barbara emerged as the locale of which to spend a birthday weekend away -close enough to drive, but far enough to feel as though we had escaped the day to day.
S and i took off thursday and friday (june 4th & 5th), giving us plenty of time to explore the city. on the morning of my birthday, i woke up early to make it to the 6 a.m. studio barre class for one more tuck before a weekend of indulging. immediately after, i headed off to blo blow dry bar for a fresh blow-out and styling because the best of birthdays begin with a well-coifed mane, right? i headed home from the salon, showered off and got ready, packed up the remaining toiletries in my overnight bag, and before too long, S and i were northbound, en route to santa barbara.
we had decided to stop in newport beach for brunch. being familiar with the area, i had elected haute cakes caffe for a bite to eat. nestled in a strip mall, it’s a charming little spot with rustic decor and a healthy menu of both breakfast and lunch options. i started my day with house made granola while S chose the haute combination with a medley of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. it definitely hit the spot.
once properly fueled, we continued up the coast. our second stop came in camarillo, at the outlet mall. S and i made a beeline to the j.crew factory store (natch) where i hoped to find a few birthday goodies for my closet. unfortunately, i only ended up purchasing a second pair of my beloved d’orsay flats in black, but S made out with a couple button-downs as an early birthday gift from me (our birthdays are nine days apart).
we drove the final leg of our road trip and arrived into santa barbara a hair before 4 p.m. we pulled into the driveway of the brisas del mar inn, a boutique hotel just blocks from the beach and the site of our home away from home for the next three days.
the friendly staff welcomed us with open arms, being sure to note the hotel’s laundry list of amenities -including complimentary access to beach cruisers, a breakfast buffet each morning, wine and cheese from 4:00-5:30 p.m., and fresh baked cookies and milk from 6:30-8:30 p.m. they handed us the keys to room #30 (how appropriate, we thought) and told us to enjoy our stay.
we made our way toward the back of the property to our second-story suite. once inside, we laid down our bags and set a tentative game plan for the remaining events of the day. with dinner reservations not until 6:30 p.m., we utilized the extra time to stretch our legs with a little stroll along the beach and up toward state street. after perusing the downtown area, we headed back to the hotel to change and freshen up.
i had done restaurant research prior to our trip and had chosen blush restaurant + lounge for the site of my birthday dinner. they not only had a wide array of entrees, but more importantly, offered brussels sprouts with pancetta as a side dish. we each started our dinner with an adult libation -S opted for a glass of cabernet while i indulged in one of their signature cocktails, a take on a moscow mule with lime and blackberries.
for our entrees, i feasted on a bunless house made veggie burger and caesar salad with a side of brussels sprouts of course, and S chose the rib-eye served alongside asparagus and herb roasted potatoes. in honor of my special day, the restaurant treated us to a plate of their chocolate truffle mousse. the server took special care to guard the lighted candle as she brought the decadent dessert our way. one, two, three – make a wish!
we finished off the evening with a few snagged cookies from the hotel lobby and a marathon of diners, drive-ins, and dives. coupled with the amazing texts, facebook posts, and instagram comments received throughout the day, it was the perfect first day of my 30th year.
the next morning, S and i decided to celebrate the gorgeous sunny weather with a stroll along the santa barbara pier followed by acai berry bowls from backyard bowls.
we worked off breakfast with a walk along the boardwalk before returning to our room to shower and change for our afternoon in wine country.
we drove up and over the hill about 45 minutes into the santa ynez valley. when we arrived at our first stop –gainey vineyard, we were greeted by picturesque landscapes of growing vines. having visited the winery with mom on our mother/daughter trip in october 2013, it was fun to be back with S in tow. we paid the fee for the tasting and wound back to the barrel room where ed, our trusty sommelier, served us up a sampling of six wines -three white and three red -including a sweet riesling that i all but licked off the wine glass.
we continued up the road a few miles to our second and final stop for the day –kalyra winery. best known to me for their dessert wine flight. we went on to taste sweet wine after sweet wine -rieslings, muscats, and ports. each was more saccharine than the first. but by the end of the flight, a sugar buzz wasn’t the only thing i was feeling. i was also a bit tipsy. it was then that we decided we had had enough wine for one day, so we loaded up the truck and made our way back into town. in search of our next activity and maybe some coffee to sober me up.
to be continued…