Now that we are in a better place with our finances, we still plan our $100 Getaways. In between our big trips and vacations, we love to keep exploring new places and finding cool new adventures along the way. Adventure is one of the big cornerstone of our relationship and whatever we are doing, whether we’re on safari in Kenya or standing in line for Fish Taco Tuesdays, we always find a way to make it fun. And it reminds us all the time that some of the coolest, most fun things to do don’t always require much money at all.
Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens
The botanic gardens is an amazing place. It’s a wonderful place to start the day with a hike through the
gardens. It’s beautiful! It’s easy to fall in love with Santa Barbara through wandering the woodsy in terrain and
looking at all the wildflowers in bloom during the early Spring (yes, February in Santa Barbara is already Spring – it’s a gorgeous time of year in the garden!) Of course, the hike is also a great way to at least get some exercise, albeit a very light one since it’s about a 2 mile loop through the park. If you are a photography nerd like I am, you are going to have a blast taking a ton of amazing pictures here! This is definitely one of the hidden places in Santa Barbara that’s worth a visit.
Cost of Admission: $8 per person ($16 per couple)
No trip to Santa Barbara is ever complete without a visit to Brophy Bros. for us. It’s one of the best seafood restaurants in town - one spoonful of their clam chowder and you will understand why it’s such an institution in this town! Since it’s right on the harbor, we usually ask to sit outside where you can have first-hand view of all the boats docking. Once, we even saw a fisherman pull in with a ton of fresh caught uni (sea urchin). Immediately after docking, we see a handful of people with coolers in tow buying it straight from the fishing net! We were so tempted to run down and buy some as well – but we saved that adventure for another day. (It’s still on our adventure list!) As I’ve mentioned, their clam chowder here is legendary. For $11.25, you can have one of their large bread bowls filled with clam chowder and a side salad. It’s definitely enough to share for lunch. We usually also get a half dozen fresh shucked oysters with that to round out our lunch order. If there’s room in our budget, we can usually splurge to each get some of their yummy Bloody Marys (but it’s an easy item to do without if we’re really trying to stick to a budget.)
Cost for Lunch (including tax and tip): $27
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Brophy Bros is East Beach. East Beach is pretty much accessible on the main road and a short walk from the Harbor. It’s a great place to lay down a blanket and lay out in the sun while you digest your yummy lunch. It’s normally a pretty quiet beach with only a few people sprawled out so it’s very easy to take a quick, restful nap as you listen to the ocean. This is really what Santa Barbara is all about.
Incidentally, Santa Barbara also has our most favorite little book store. Paradise Found is a real gem and the staff is the friendliest group of people you will ever meet! It’s a great place for us to stop, cuddle up on the floor in the back of the store with a book to peruse. They usually have some really cool things going on at the book store, including free shakra cleansings and tarot readings if you have the time. It’s a very interesting place to explore and if you’re in the market for some dream catchers, they have some beautiful ones on display.
Another big part of visiting Santa Barbara is visiting the small wineries for a tasting. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day, but ultimately, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. One work-around to that is visiting the Santa Barbara Winery Tasting Room right around State Street. The best part: for $5 per person, you can taste 5-6 different wines AND take home the wine glass as a souvenir. How cool is that!?! We usually pick up a bottle of wine after the tasting, but it’s not necessary. It’s a great way to get the wine tasting experience without the hefty price tag!
Cost: $5 per person ($10 per couple)
It’s about 5:30pm in the afternoon and you’ve had a loooong, adventure-filled day in Santa Barbara already.
You look in your wallet and you still have $47 left to spend for a tasty dinner. Where are you to go?!? Suddenly, you hear the rhythm of a drum beat and some heavy bass. Then a very fine saxophone melody adds
to the mix – all of a sudden, it’s a full jazz trio serenading the Santa Barbara evening. It’s coming from right
outside The Palace Grill (and there’s a line forming right at the door!) Hurry and get in line as you see a
nicely dressed waiter come out with a tray of goodies to hand out to the hungry crowd. This is our last
stop. The Palace Grill is one of the best Cajun/Creole restaurants on the West Coast. Hands down. On weekends, they don’t usually take reservations – you have to get in line right at 5:30pm to
get a seat inside. (Although I think they are making some exceptions now for the 5:30pm seating.) Hour-long waits are common. But it’s well worth it. (What are you worried about? You’re already quite tipsy from the wine tasting down the street!)
Once inside, the place is electric. And everyone is smiling and happy because they know they’re getting some amazing grub! We usually get the heavenly Ettoufee and the Crawfish Pasta or theBlackened Catfish. Either way, it comes with some yummy corn bread and a whole lotta love. (I would suggest getting some of their sweet tea with dinner, but it’s not necessary.)
Cost (including tax and tip): $47
After a long day in Santa Barbara, we are ready for the drive back to Los Angeles. And what a day it
was! Day trips are an awesome way to explore new cities, near and far. And as Valentine’s Day dates are
concerned, it can't get any better than this!
What are some of your cheap getaway destinations?