I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — there are so many places to go and things to see in California! I’ve lived here for 6.5 years, and I’ve been to San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. I’ve eaten breakfast in San Jose and drank wine in Napa. I’ve driven along the coast and stopped in Carmel and Big Sur. I’ve been to Paso Robles and Palm Springs, Laguna Beach and Coronado Island. I’ve explored Disneyland in Anaheim, shopped the Rose Bowl Flea in Pasadena, and snow tubed in Big Bear. I’ve hiked in Joshua Tree and gotten a history lesson at Hearst Castle. I’ve checked dozens of things off my mental to-do list but there are still many spots I’d like to visit. Some I can immediately name — like Catalina Island, Yosemite, Ojai — but there are other gems that I’ve never even heard of before, waiting to be discovered. Over Presidents Day weekend, I wanted to take a mini vacation but with my trip to NY the week before and a packed schedule at work, I was too busy to plan. My friend Lindsay suggested wine tasting in Los Olivos, a cute town located just outside Santa Barbara. Benton and I went just for the afternoon, but we had such a great time, I know we’ll repeat this trip again. Door to door, it’s only two hours from our place, so it would be an ideal spot to bring visitors too!
We ended up arriving just in time for lunch. I did my research in advance and picked out a perfect spot — Sides Hardware & Shoes. You’d never guess from the name, but the food was mostly seasonal and completely delicious. I got a cup of carrot soup with ginger cream to start, followed by the goat cheese and zucchini tart. Both were excellent.
In Los Olivos, there are two main intersecting streets filled with wine tasting rooms, then dotted with cafes and shops. Following lunch, we ducked into a tasting room for some heavy reds (not my favorite, but hey, you can’t win them all!). Then we wandered around a bit, stopping in mom & pop stores and playing a few quick rounds of bocce ball in a makeshift court near the local art gallery. At our second tasting spot, Saarloos & Sons, we also got a cupcake tasting (!!!) from Enjoy Cupcakes. Each cupcake corresponded to a wine, and let me tell you, these cupcakes were finger-licking good. Benton and I split one wine and one cupcake tasting down the middle, but had we not been driving home that same day, I’m sure we could have gone for another round and stuffed ourselves silly.
I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Last night as I was driving home from work, sitting in a line of traffic, I just couldn’t help but reflect. Between the ocean breeze, the warm sun, the palm trees, and the fact that there are days you need to keep your window down in February…well, it sounds like I’m bragging but really, I’m just happy. I can’t wait to keep exploring this state!