Take a vacation from your car
August 2, 2004 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Having just returned to Paradise for a little visit, I am reminded just how cool this little place is (not that I needed much reminding *whimper*), and am looking for touristy things to do here without a car. While I was on my way up on the Pacific Surfliner train, a fellow rider told me about Santa Barbara Car Free. Awesome! Also props to CalTrans' alliance with Amtrak in California. The trains and service and overall quality of the passenger rail system is quite a bit different from what I've experienced thus far of the stuff handled by Amtrak alone.
posted by WolfDaddy (12 comments total)
I love SB (just got back from there myself). If you like Mexican food don't miss La Super Rica, at 622 North Milpas; it's a hole-in-the-wall with fabulous food for hardly any money. There's usually a line, but it moves fast, and once you've given your order you can wait in the nice covered area in the back.
posted by languagehat at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2004

don't miss La Super Rica

This is Julia Child's Favorite. Mexican. Food. Ever.

I have to agree :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:42 PM on August 2, 2004

your best bet is probably just to rent a bicycle and just take off. almost all of the city is easily accessible that way, and if you're willing to put in a little effort you can also get up to the the mesa (take cabrillo along the beach) and the riviera (take alameda padre sierra from behind the mission).

if you're looking for a nice bar i suggest elsie's; it's pretty quiet, has a nice patio, free pool, and often has live music.

the firebird is also really good, the decor is fantastic, and it's a little more retro-chic than elsie's.
if you get hungry while you're there, and don't mind spending some money, you can always step next door to the palace cafe for some fantastic cajun fusion cuisine. the jalepeno corn muffins they start you off with are out of this world.

if you can get a reservation into lotusland grab it, it's amazing. failing that, alice keck park memorial gardens (also called 'alice keck park park' 'cause it's a park and alice keck park... ) is great. it's got a big koi pond and all kinds of weird plants.
posted by dolface at 1:08 PM on August 2, 2004

I visited SB for the first time last fall. Running on the pedestrian path along the beach, with the waves on one side and the mountains on the other, was just spectacular.
posted by ChrisTN at 1:16 PM on August 2, 2004



You will be staying long enough for Fiesta, right?

If money's no object and you've brought along a warm jacket, walk down to the harbor (about 4 blocks from the train station) to catch one of the trips out to the Channel Islands.

The beach, of course. Ledbetter and East Beach are the ones flanking the wharf. But the natives are all up BBQing at Goleta Beach (from the bus station at Anapamu and Chapala, catch an express to UCSB then walk over).

The Mission and Presidio are also obvious. It's a ~1.5-2 mile walk from the train station to the Mission, but going up State or Anacapa will take you past more sights like the El Paseo, the Art Museum, and the Arlington and Granada theaters. Take a detour to the Karpeles Manuscript Museum (across from the bus station), on the way up. From the Mission, ask directions to the Natural History Museum, which is only a few more blocks.

From there, you can either zig or zag: exploring Rock Creek Park or sit down to old flick at the Riviera Theater.

Someone at Pacific Pride Foundation can direct you to nightlife.

The downtown Farmers Market is tomorrow.

You must come back in the spring for Solstice and i Madonnari
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:21 PM on August 2, 2004

Taking the train into SB from LA or San Diego is a pretty good way to go -- it's comfortable, reliable, and stress free, and not too much slower than taking the freeway.

Super Rica is excellent, but I tend to prefer Chilango's, near the corner of State and Haley (next to SB Brewing Co). It's also more central which is probably a plus if you're not driving.

If you're looking for stuff to do, there are a number of good hiking trails, rattlesnake canyon and cold springs being the best in my opinion. Getting to the trailhead would make for an good bike ride, too.
posted by Mark Doner at 1:29 PM on August 2, 2004

The fact that ChrisTN was out here last fall (when I was still a resident) and didn't look me up as sent me into the slough of despond, thus none of your cool links matter anymore as I won't be going outside for two weeks.


nakedcodemonkey, the guy who moved into my old room here in SB works for PPF. It's a small world.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2004

nakedcodemonkey, the guy who moved into my old room here in SB works for PPF. It's a small world.

Heh. It's a small town. PPF has the monopoly on queer community jobs. Well, unless Chameleon is still running drag shows.

Did you use to live in SB?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:40 PM on August 2, 2004

If you do make it out to UCSB, rent the bike in I.V. then head out to the Devereaux Slough. It's a winding scenic ride through a wetlands preserve and ends at a (relatively) unspoiled beach full of endangered plants, wild birds, etc. A little farther down are bluffs covered in wildflowers and a eucalyptus grove famous for being a Monarch Butterfly overwinter spot (too early to see them, but something to make note of for a return trip in the fall).

Or if you want to stay closer to downtown, bike all the way down East Beach and then cross the street to the bird preserve (with the zoo next door).
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:08 PM on August 2, 2004

uc santa barbara isnt a bad place to spend 4-7 years either.
posted by tsarfan at 2:52 PM on August 2, 2004

Oh, you are all making me sigh. (*Heaves sigh*) Lovely daughter lives in SB, has 1 qtr. to go before earning her master's degree from UCSB. I always look forward to visiting her there because I just love the place so much! June 2005 can't come too soon. Have a wonderful time, Wolf Daddy!
posted by Lynsey at 4:08 PM on August 2, 2004

Did you use to live in SB?

Yeah, the wording of my post could have been a bit clearer in indicating that I was a (15-year *sobsob*) resident of SB who is making his first visit back since moving to Houston six months ago, and thus am technically a "tourist". I moved against my will, however, I also want to be a homeowner, and I got tired of looking at POS 60 year old tract houses selling starting at $750,000 when I can easily buy something thrice as nice for $45,000 in Houston. Houston, of course, is the inflamed ingrown hair in Satan's armpit in the most sulphurous pit of Hell, but we all must make sacrifices to live the American Dream.

*sobs harder*
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:32 PM on August 2, 2004

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