Constantly annoyed by her one-sided relationship, the National Park TravelingMom escaped to have weekend fling with an old love. Leaving her car and her worries behind in LA, she hopped abroad an Amtrak train to rekindle a bit of the excitement and romance that was missing in her relationship with travel. Wandering the streets of Santa Barbara car-free, she savored the slower pace and didn’t miss her car at all. Read on to see how easy it is to break up with your car for a weekend stay in Santa Barbara without a car.
My train screeched to a stop at Santa Barbara’s 1902 Spanish Mission Revival depot as I hopped off the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from Southern California. Transported from the constant traffic and congestion of LA, I strolled a tree-lined street from the depot to my historic hotel. As I walked, I listened. Santa Barbara hummed to the sounds of the ocean, the ring-ring of bike bells and the music from open-air cafes.
Where to Stay in Santa Barbara without a Car
Positioned on the main thoroughfare, State Street in the heart of Santa Barbara, Hotel Santa Barbara offers guests a refined property tied to its historic roots. Since it’s steps from dining and museums, I walked and savored all the sights and smells of Santa Barbara, America’s Rivera.
What I loved at Hotel Santa Barbara
- The convenient location in the center of Santa Barbara on State Street
- The Farmers Market right outside the doors
- The historic feel of the hotel
What I wanted at Hotel Santa Barbara
- A pool
- Transportation to the Amtrak Station
Hotel Santa Barbara
Built after the devastating earthquake, Hotel Santa Barbara opened its doors in 1926. Almost immediately, Hollywood’s stars, like Clark Gable, walked through the lobby doors. To this day, Hotel Santa Barbara hosts stars and movie makers as the official hospitality hub for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
After an extensive renovation, Hotel Santa Barbara offers its guests the rich details of a historic property. In addition, I found modern conveniences that travelers need. As a train traveler, I discovered this is where to stay in Santa Barbara without a car.
My Room at the Hotel Santa Barbara
At the Hotel Santa Barbara, I enjoyed a room overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains. With a queen-sized upholstered headboard featuring nail head trim, my bed was dressed in white linens. Additionally I found an accent pillow and coverlet in colors of silver and gold.
A subtle mix of traditional pieces, modern accents and architectural pieces, my room offered a cozy escape. Over the headboard, architectural details nod to the property’s historic past. Yet the Lucite side lamps offer a modern touch.
With areas for working and relaxing, I found a functional work desk with task lighting and a work chair. Next to the mini refrigerator, I found an upholstered chair with a side table. Additionally, my room featured a Keurig coffee maker.
I found robes and an in-room safe in the closet. Finally, a dresser offered storage, as well as a television.
My bathroom at the Hotel Santa Barbara featured a standard tub/shower, though a decorative shower curtain offered a designer touch. The vanity had one sink and lots of counter space along with a line of signature toiletries.
With quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., guests get a peaceful sleep.
Where to Eat
Hotel Santa Barbara offers a complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby, featuring assorted pastries and breakfast breads along with coffee and tea. In the afternoon, I found flavored water and tea along with cookies next to the registration desk.
I wanted to sample some local seafood, so I walked to dinner. Since 1977, Enterprise Fish Company has served sustainably-sourced seafood to its guests.
During my visit, I started the lobster bisque. In front of me, my server placed a bowl covered in buttery puff pastry straight from the oven. Taking my soup spoon, I pierced the flaky crust as a lobster-infused steam drifted into my nose.
The combination of heavy cream, butter, lobster and flaky pastry offers heaven in a spoon. Since I had walked to the restaurant, the calories didn’t count.
After my soup, I sampled the Blackened Ahi Sashimi Tuna. With a perfect crust from the pan, my tuna was flavorful and tender. Since it’s served with pickled ginger and wasabi, its tart, clean flavors offered a counter-balance to the decedent bisque.
Next I choose the mesquite wood grilled artichoke, another local product. Served with drawn butter, lemon and a house-made sauce, it’s perfect for sharing.
Enterprise Fish Company is located at 225 State St., next to the train station. Open seven days a week from lunch to dinner.
Where to Relax
As an historic property, the Hotel Santa Barbara doesn’t feature a fitness center, pool or spa. So I walked a few blocks to Float Luxury Spa to recharge.
After checking in, I perused the menu of massages, facials, scrubs and wraps and decided on a Revive Massage. Next the staff at the Float Luxury Spa showed me to the locker room outfitted with a shower and complimentary toiletries.
After changing, I found several areas for lounging before and after services like the outdoor courtyard with a fountain and chaises. Though just 25-minutes long, my therapist found my tension and melted it away.
Float Luxury Spa is located at 18 E. Canon Perdido St.
11 Must Dos in Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market
- City Tour with Santa Barbara Trolley Company
- Stearns Wharf
- Old Mission Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Zoo
- Moxi—The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
- Chase Palm Park Carousel
- Funk Zone
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art
- Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Sunken Gardens
Where is Hotel Santa Barbara
After a leisurely train ride from Southern California on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, I arrived at the 1902 Santa Barbara Train Station. An excellent example of Mission Revival architecture, it underwent a complete restoration in 2000. It’s listed on the National Historic List of Historic Places.
Hotel Santa Barbara is located four blocks from the train station and during my stay I walked to the hotel. Though not a particularly long walk, it’s a hassle when loaded down with bags. So I recommend a car share to-and-from the Amtrak station.
Since it’s located at 533 State Street, Hotel Santa Barbara is three blocks from U.S. 101.
Valet parking ($15/day) is available on-site located behind the hotel. For guests wishing to self-park (also $15/day), the lot is across the street.
Tips from a TravelingMom:
- For hotel guests with a car, enter from E. Cota St.
- The first 75-minutes of parking is free across downtown Santa Barbara
- Grab some cash for the farmer’s market and pick up a snack.