San Diego, CA

Santa Barbara Welcomes San Diego with Open Arms and Open Sites for Summer Road Trips

J. Maginot

A Road Trip From San Diego to Santa Barbara's Hidden Treasures is The Perfect Summer Weekend Getaway
Sunrise in Santa Barbara, CA@johannesbau via Twenty20

With June 15 just around the corner, it is beginning to feel like Southern California is really back.

It’s tough to beat San Diego - the weather, the beaches, the hiking. But after a year in some degree of lockdown, San Diego can feel like a small town with every place you’ve been to a place you go back to again. I love to travel – who doesn’t?

It’s the perfect way to get away from your surroundings and see another part of the world. And that’s why I am always on the lookout for a good road trip story or destination.

And just up the coast is Santa Barbara. The perfect destination for a weekend getaway. If you’re not ready for the full crowd experience, try these hidden gems that fly just under the radar.

Lotusland Bontanical Gardens
California Golden PoppiesCourtesy Lotusland

Address: 695 Ashley Road Santa Barbara, California, 93108

San Diego’s landscape is dotted with contributions from the legendary Kate Sessions. But after a while in town, you’ve probably seen them all. If outdoor gardens are your scene, then Lotusland in Santa Barbara is an excellent post COVID lockdown getaway.

This 37 acre garden had been enjoyed by visitors for over 40 years but reached a point where they were not able to properly maintain and enhance it after Madame Walska’s death in 1983.

Thus, the Lotusland Foundation was formed, dedicated to ensuring the preservation of this unique treasure. It invited the design team at Hargreaves Associates to create a master plan that would simultaneously protect the garden and expand its capacity to serve as many people as possible.

Lotusland is still observing social distancing, so please plan accordingly.

Knapp's Castle Ruin Site
Views from Knapp's Castle@andrenguyen via Twenty20

Trailhead Address: East Camino Cielo (Forest Route 5N12), Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

While the ruins themselves may be gone, the spectacular views from where they once stood remain some of the most breathtaking views a hike in Southern California has to offer. Still well worth the trip.

Knapp's Castle was briefly the home of Union Carbide owner George Knapp who built a palatial home overlooking the Santa Barbara coast in 1916. Shortly after completing the home, a wildfire overtook the property and destroyed it.

The ruins were a popular hiking destination for nearly a century until just last year when they were closed permanently. The hiking trail itself is still accessible and the views are unsurpassed in the area.

The hike itself is only a mile and is reasonable to do in the morning before it gets warm.

Cold Spring Tavern
Courtesy Cold Spring Tavern

Address: 5995 Stagecoach RD, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

California has a rich, Victorian, history following the gold rush of 1849 and Santa Barbara is no different in this regard. Cold Spring Tavern was originally built in 1860 as a stop for the stagecoach, it has changed hands several times over the years, but has been family owned for several generations.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, though, there is a service break between meals, so make sure you call ahead. Dinner reservations are required if you plan to eat, though the grounds themselves are full of period buildings left over from when the tavern was a functional stop.

If you're in the mood for something a little exotic, the Cold Spring Tavern serves up venison, duck, rabbit, and the verifiably not local, kangaroo.


After a year languishing indoors, the California Central Coast beckons San Diegans to venture north for a weekend of discovery and adventure. Bypassing Los Angeles as much as possible, because, well, San Diegans know a good road trip can't begin until you're north of the valley.

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I write articles focused on helping others break out of their 9-5 mindset. This involves side hustles, mindset, motivation, hands on practical tips, case studies, 30 day challeneges, and other related content. It's a blast.

San Diego, CA

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