Today I had the loveliest day in Santa Barbara. It’s been a place I’ve been meaning to go to, but just couldn’t seem to find the right time for a visit. We tried going for my birthday this year and Valentine’s Day, but it just wasn’t happening. Then, this past week, my boyfriend Craig and I got the awesome news that his friend Will had just gotten engaged to his girlfriend Gia in Big Sur (Yes, another place I’ve been meaning to visit). A few days later, they invited us to join them in Santa Barbara as they narrowed down a location for their wedding in November 2016. Finally, it was happening! We quickly said yes and got up early this morning for the hour and a half drive.
Our morning breakfast was at a little diner in the quaint town of Solvang, also known as the Danish capital of America. It felt as if we had left California and were somehow transported to a tiny town in Europe where men walk around in kilts and folks meander like tourists at a theme park. Founded in 1911, the town keeps its authentic roots, from the unique architecture of restaurants and stores to a replica of the Copenhagen statue of The Little Mermaid.
After a few mimosas and a hearty all-american breakfast, we left our Danish time travels to find a venue for the bride and groom.
WHISPERING ROSE RANCH
From the moment we drove up to the venue, we knew this place was really special.
Sycamore Lane, pictured above, is full mature trees that create an impressive entrance into the property. Many brides have chosen to have their dinner reception here, adorning the street with long table and elegant lanterns, giving this area a magical feel.
Our tour continued on to the groom and bride’s quarters beside Monty Roberts’ stunning home overlooking the valley below. Monty, the owner, is a famous American horse trainer and author who developed a world-renowned equine training technique called Join-Up using non-verbal language. Yes, he’s a horse whisperer and was once a Hollywood stunt double for Elizabeth Taylor among others. Today, he just happened to be in England at Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth’s request.
Of course, before leaving, I had to meet the horses on property for a quick selfie.
I gotta say, this horse’s selfie skills are on point and I look slightly terrified. He was a bit of a biter and wanted all the attention to himself. So Hollywood…
From here we found ourselves in the coolest bar we didn’t know we loved.
This is a legendary bar with one of the most impressive collection of George Washingtons. Recommend to us by the tour at Whispering Rose Ranch as the best after-party wedding spot, the saloon serves as the only real bar in town. We walked in during a slow Sunday afternoon to the near empty bar, but that was not the case the night before. Our bartender shared with us that four separate wedding parties had all crashed the bar. Weekends at Maverick are nothing short of fun and we’re looking forward to partying at this place later this year.
*Note: When you go, make sure to leave a dollar bill tacked to the ceiling. The bartender has the tacks and markers. It’s a must!
After a cold Corona, we made our way to Los Olivos for some wine tasting.
SAARLOOS AND SONS TASTING ROOM
This little place has two of my favorite things ever: wine and cupcakes! For $10 you get six different mini cupcakes and pay for the wine separately. We had a blast trying out the different wines and cupcakes as I searched like a mad woman on Pinterest for table centerpiece inspirations, unconventional dessert options, dresses, colors… AHHH!!! Planning a wedding takes a lot of time, work, and decision-making skills. So glad we had sugar and vino to calm me down.
Oh, and these wine glass holders built into the deck chairs are perfection!
SANTA BARBARA MARINA
Our day ended with a trip over to the Marina, where we finished our trip with a quick dinner by the Maritime Museum. The view was nothing short of spectacular.
I can’t wait to go back and explore this amazing California gem! Thanks so much to Will and Gia for taking us along for the ride. It was a really good day.