72 hours in Santa Barbara

Going to California to visit mythical Silicon Valley and the upcoming tech scene in Los Angeles? Don’t forget about the city in between; Santa Barbara.

With just two hours – in traffic – to Los Angeles, and a mere four and a half hour stretch to Palo Alto, why not spend a few days in sunny Santa Barbara on your tech trip to California?
The city that goes by the nickname of the American Riviera is situated on the west coast, between the Pacific and the Santa Ynez Mountains. It is the perfect spot to recharge your batteries, work efficiently, and be able to reach the interesting parts of California if you’re a tech head that loves road tripping.

Day One:

If you’re looking to get comfortable, I’d recommend taking one of the hotels by the sea. There are several good options at W Cabrillo Boulevard, but I’d strike a blow for West Beach Inn. With complimentary breakfast and wine and cheese every night from 5-7 pm they had already sparked my interest! I got an upgrade to a room with a harbor view, but even the smaller rooms have a comfy bed, a desk, and own toilets and bath complete with toiletries, coffee, and a robe. The wifi is up to speed, and if you’re looking not to work, there are enough channels to choose from on TV, and the pool is open until 11 pm. You can park here for free, and the receptionists are very helpful.

What about coffee?
Go to State Street Coffee at the far end of State Street almost by the Dolphin Statue. Order a black coffee with a dash of syrup; I can recommend the caramel or the pumpkin spice. The coffee house is small, but you can sit at one of the two tables outside or get your coffee to go.

Eat here:
Given that you ate breakfast at the hotel, I’ll go straight to lunch places; Santa Barbara has many great places to eat, many located on State Street and the adjacent Anacapa Street. If you need something quick before you go sightseeing, grab a charburger and fries at the Habit – it’s even better than In ‘n Out!

For dinner, you should go to Santa Barbara Brewing Company and watch some sports with the locals. They have good beer, even brew their own on site, and greasy grub to go with it.

What to see:
Check out Stearns Wharf, where local fishermen compete with seagulls and pelicans for fresh fish. You might even see a dolphin or a sea lion in the waves.
Stroll up State Street from the seaside and do some window shopping.
Eat an ice cream at McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream, a shop that’s been here since 1929! Though old in age, they’re very innovative in flavors making it hard to choose – luckily you can have samples galore.

Where to work?
Santa Barbara is also in on the tech wave and co-working trend. At State Street, you’ll find Impact Hub, a co-working space for smaller and midsize companies in all sectors. Rent a desk or even an office if you’re planning on staying for a longer period, and enjoy the patio, the free coffee, water, and kombucha or network your way into the city’s new businesses.

Day Two:

Skip Starbucks and go straight to Santa Barbara Roasting Company. Order an iced coffee and a pastry, and you’re good to go! Also, the café has plenty of room and good wifi if you need to get a little work done.

Eat here:
Feeling like getting some good Mexican food? Try East Beach Tacos by the batting cages at Milpas Street. I chose a Triple Play, which gets you three tacos of your choice from the whole menu for just 9 dollars. Here’s traditional carne asada and grilled fish but also new fusions like Bahn mí and Ahi Poke.

For dinner, go to Joe’s if you’re craving the diner experience. The restaurant has been around since 1928. Their Tri Tip special will get even the most hungry techie full!

What to see:
I hope you tried your hands at baseball at the batting cages before you awarded yourself with some great tacos. And if your inner child still wants to play go to the new Moxi, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation which opened this spring at State Street. The museum want’s to spark creativity and visitors are introduced to seven different themes at the 17.000 square-foot building right next to the Amtrak station.

Where to work?
If you’re more keen to work from a café or coffee house rather than a co-working space, you can try The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Peet’s Coffee both at State Street.

Day Three:

It’s your last day in Santa Barbara! Don’t eat boring breakfast at the hotel. Get a Huevos Rancheros at The Patio Café at De La Vina Street.

And even if you’re kind of full, make sure to get a good cup of frozen yogurt with all the toppings from Yogurtland. Afterwards, walk down to the Funk Zone where you’ll get the last work done and have plenty of time to eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!

The only area you’ll need today:
The Funk Zone. Here you’ll find Impact Hub’s second location in the city but get your work done quickly and try out the different wineries.

The Funk Zone is home to many local wines and delicacies, for example, the Santa Barbara Wine Collection. Are you more of a beer person, go to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and enjoy the patio. Never drink on an empty stomach so hop into The Lark or the Lucky Penny for some delicious dishes.


I have many more recommendations for this wonderful city which I have been back to several times since I did an exchange semester here during my Bachelor’s and I’ll happily share them. Leave a comment if you need directions, tips, or want to share an experience.

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