Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Beach of the Month: Santa Barbara, California

I've managed to put my toes in the sand every month so far this year. And May's Beach of the Month is one of the prettiest, little beach towns- Santa Barbara, California. It's not your typical beach town - there are few souvenir shops and no go cart racing that I could see. It is, however, a white washed, floral town with Spanish architecture and upscale restaurants and shops. This was my first visit to Santa Barbara - though I've driven past it many times- and it was unique as it was also the only beach I've ever been to by train. My niece suggested we take the Amtrak Surfliner along the coast so we decided to do just that.

 We boarded at the Glendale station and rode through suburbia until we got to Ventura where the Surfliner started hugging the coast. It was a very cool way to view the ocean with no worries and no driving. The train has coach seating and a cafe car where you can get something to eat or a glass of wine if you'd like. It was truly enjoyable - and the train station is right in Santa Barbara so we just walked a short few blocks to see the town.

We sat at an outdoor patio in town for a bit after our walk, and then we strolled through town. There appears to be a good bit of shopping and eating to do but we had one goal in mind- get to the beach. Stearns Waterfront  is at the end of the main road, State Street, and we ventured off to walk the beach and enjoy the views - Santa Barbara Beach has beautiful mountain and palm tree views as you walk along the pathway along the ocean.

We picked a waterfront restaurant - Santa Barbara Fish House (well, across the street from the ocean but it still has water views) and enjoyed a fantastic dinner on the patio that we had all to ourselves. I'd highly recommend a meal here if you're in Santa Barbara.

Before we knew it, it was time to walk the few blocks to the train station. We boarded and let Amtrak do all the driving once again.We had a beautiful sunset view on our way back to our hotel and enjoyed waves from lots of kids along the tracks. And a short drive to our hotel again from the Glendale station. Easy Peasy.

Where to stay
Though we didn't stay in Santa Barbara there are so many options if you'd like to:

Hotel Indigo
This is part of the Holiday Inn chain so you may use IHG points. Located a few blocks from the pier and ocean, the Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara has a patio restaurant out front and some rooms have outdoor patios. Pet friendly. Located next door to MOXI - an interactive science museum for all ages. This would be my first choice if I stayed in Santa Barbara

Hotel Santa Barbara
This hotel is on State Street in the thick of the restaurants and shops. A bit further from the ocean, but close by if you are in town for shopping and eating. Still within walking distance to the train station, even with luggage. Has a delightful looking pool and outdoor patio.

Kimpton Canary Santa Barbara
A few blocks off State Street, the Kimpton is a boutique hotel housing the Fork and Finch restaurant and a luxury rooftop pool. Complimentary bicycle use with your stay and a hosted wine hour every day. A little bit of luxury right in town.

And of course, you can try your luck with AirBnB and if you'd like to have a kitchen or just more space. 

Where to Eat

Santa Barbara Fish House
Santa Barbara Fish House sits directly across the street from the beach. It has two outdoor patios, a bar and a happy hour menu daily. Mostly seafood - and Mr. UR can attest that the ciopinno is delicious.

Fork and Finch
Located in the Kimpton Canary hotel in downtown Santa Barbara, the Fork and Finch is billed as "offering local, modern American food" of casual dishes made with local ingredients. It has great reviews and I'd like to give it a try.

Finney's Crafthouse and Kitchen
Recently opened near the Santa Barbara waterfront, Finney's is in the newly renovated Hotel Californian. Using local and seasonal ingredients and serving American fare, Finney's has Happy Hour specials, a family friendly and dog friendly patio and a craft bar. When we passed by, it was packed and looks to be very popular.

Things to do:
Shopping and eating are high on the list. You can, of course, enjoy the beach. And you can take a walk down to the waterfront. 

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Innovation and Exploration
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Historical Museum and
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Unfortunately, with our time constraint of taking the train we weren't able to do any of the above museums though all look interesting. I'd love to go back and do all of them - especially the Old Mission Santa Barbara, "the chief cultural and historic landmark in Santa Barbara." (I've been to other California Missions but never this one)

How about you?Have you been to Santa Barbara?

Linking up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party and WATW at Communal Global!

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Hot Spring Visit in Oregon

Terwilliger Hot Springs (also known as Cougar Hot Springs) in located in the Willamette National Forest about 50 miles east of Eugene, Oregon. On our two week RV trip around Oregon, we wanted to visit a hot spring - and this one fit the bill. Our drive to the hot springs was simply gorgeous - passing through the National Forest and crossing the McKenzie River.
Terwilliger costs $5 to enter (there is a guard gate at the trailhead with a forest service employee to take your fee) and is accessed through a 1/4 mile trail just past Rider Creek Waterfall. The trail takes you through deep green forest that makes you feel like you are in the latest Star Wars movie - it's a beautiful old growth forest. It's a clean, and short, trail that takes your blood pressure down already by walking through the peaceful forest. Once you reach the hot springs, there is a covered shelter to store anything that you have brought with you. There are six pools running downhill - the top is the hottest at 112  with the bottom being the coolest at 86 degrees. All are rock bed with some sandy bottoms. 

Please be aware that Terwilliger is a clothing optional hot springs so be prepared to see some folk au natural. (If this bothers you, there are many other hot springs in Oregon that are not clothing optional.) The hot springs is open year round with the exception of Thursdays from 8am to 12pm for cleaning. (I didn't take any photos of the hot springs itself as I 1. Didn't take my camera into the water and 2. Didn't want to infringe on anyone's privacy so enjoy the photo below from

If you decide to visit Terwilliger, enjoy the drive in the National Forest, enjoy Rider Creek waterfall, enjoy the walk to the springs and most of all, enjoy soaking in a beautiful hot spring in the middle of the forest. 

How about you? Do you enjoy visiting hot springs?

Linking up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog PartyThe Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Women Around the World at Communal Global!