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Hotel Santa Barbara

Downtown hotel on State Street in Santa Barbara near beaches & walking distance to Stearns Wharf, shopping, restaurants and night life.
santa barbara mission with mountains in the background
11 Jan

Staff Picks Series: Madisson’s Top Picks for Santa Barbara

At Hotel Santa Barbara we’ve got the insider scoop on what to do, taste, see, and explore during your next Santa Barbara visit. Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, we get to enjoy the many delicious restaurants, great shopping, and fun activities that take place every day, right outside our front doors. And we love that we get to share all of this with you, our guests.

We’ve interviewed our staff to ask them for their top picks of things to do in Santa Barbara, so that you can make the most of your time in SB.

Madisson, Sales & Marketing Assistant
Years at Hotel Santa Barbara: 3 Months

Sales & Marketing Assistant standing in front of ivy green covered wall

What is your favorite part about working at a hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara?

With our location right on State Street, we are in the middle of all the action. So close to the beach, good restaurants, and shopping. And the Farmer’s Market happens right outside our doors every Tuesday evening.

What is your favorite restaurant within walking distance to the hotel? Why?

I love everything about the Santa Barbara Public Market! There’s something there for everyone with the various restaurants, dessert shops, and beer and wine tastings. The communal dining area makes it easy for everyone to order from their restaurant of choice, while still enjoying a meal together with friends or family.

I’m obsessed with Enjoy Cupcakes and Rori’s Artisanal Creamery for locally made sweet treats. Empty Bowl (Thai noodle bar) and Corazon Cocina (locally sourced, artisan tacos) are high on my list for best eateries.

The front of the building at the santa barbara public market

Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

What is your ideal restaurant in Santa Barbara for a nice dinner out? Why?

The Lark, located in the trendy Funk Zone neighborhood, is my go-to for a once-a-year, special occasion restaurant. The menu changes each season and all of their ingredients are locally sourced and responsibly grown. Their drink menu is also fantastic. There’s something for everyone with handcrafted cocktails, wine, draft beer, and even handcrafted mocktails. The Mule is my personal favorite.

The Lark restaurant building

What do you like to do in Santa Barbara on your days off?

On my days off I enjoy sailing with my family, riding my bike along the Cabrillo bike path, reading in my hammock at East Beach, and picnicking with my friends at the Rose Gardens at the SB Mission.

Favorite wine tasting room or brewery in the area?

I love Deep Sea Tasting Room because the location is unbeatable. Located on Stearns Wharf, it is the perfect place to sip rosé while watching the sun set over the harbor.

outside patio at deep sea tasting room overlooking the ocean and cabrillo blvd

Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Venues

List your top 3 favorite things about Santa Barbara.

I love the small town feel, tight-knit community, and the fact that we have both the ocean and the mountains!

What’s your favorite building in SB? Why?

Jeff Shelton’s architectural designs transport me back to Barcelona. I particularly love the buildings on Garden Street. Fun fact: you can take a walking tour of his properties and they’re all within a block or two of Hotel Santa Barbara!

jeff shelton's unique architecture building featuring spanish style influences called el jardin

Photo courtesy of Jason Rick

List your top 3 favorite outdoor places in town and what you enjoy most about them?

  1. East Beach because of the long stretch of uninterrupted beach and bike paths. And it’s my favorite spot to hang my hammock!
  2. Rose Gardens at the Mission for picnics with my friends.
  3. SB Bowl, Santa Barbara’s outdoor concert venue, because it has amazing views of the city and ocean, and it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful outdoor concert venue.

the santa barbara mission seen through the roses at the rose garden

How would you describe Santa Barbara in one word?


Check back every so often as we feature a different staff member and their top picks for Santa Barbara. Have questions about our Santa Barbara recommendations? Call 1 (800) 549-9869 or text our 24/7 concierge service at (805) 448-0710.


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