Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feature Post!!!

Writer Amber D. Wilson and Her 'Where To Guide' Santa Barbara Edition

I met Ms. Amber Wilson at a ?uestlove show in Santa Monica, California earlier this summer.  We enjoyed a healthy conversation about SoCal and discovered we each share a passion for blogging!  Her 'Where To Guide' is a popular blog that highlights the 'wonderful social activities that Los Angeles has to offer!' 

Take a minute to discover her blissful combination of the English alphabet and her unique perspective behind the lense, as she captures her adventures like no-one else I've seen before!  

Enjoy my first Feature Post from Guest Blogger Ms. Amber D. Wilson!


Although I’m a SoCal native, born in the heart of Los Angeles, before this past 4th of July weekend, I had never been to Santa Barbara. San Diego? Indeed. San Francisco?  Dozens of times. But somehow, Santa Barbara had seemed to slip off my radar and into the murky Pacific Oceans of my mind. And while I may have passed the age where I can appropriately sneak up to Santa Barbara to attend one of its notoriously wild UCSB parties, I wasn’t too old to pack my car with a duffle bag and a few friends, and head up the scenic101 route to finally visit this city.

After a 2.5-hour trek filled with atrocious traffic, I found an endearing little city with big, bright blue skies and plenty of small-town charm awaiting me. I couldn’t help but incredulously stare in amazement at the Spanish-style storefronts that hugged the edge of towering, majestic mountains…or at the throngs of crowds that congregated on State Street, amongst its clusters of summery green trees and old-fashioned lamplights. It was all too adorable!

Now I am by no means a “Santa Barbara” expert, but as someone who is a connoisseur of enjoying the “good life,” here’s a few of my top picks and highlights of my first trip to the“805”:


Where to Eat: Brunch @ Tupelo Junction Café
I knew I had run into trouble when I found myself nervously fretting over which southern-inspired dish to order. Practically every item on the menu – from the Vanilla Dipped French Toast with homemade berry syrup and fresh whipped cream, right on down to the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with homemade chips and caramelized shallot dip – sounds divine, worthy to be tried at least once. In the end, I opted for the Dungeness Crab Cakes and Potato Hash with avocado salsa, poached eggs and lemon butter sauce.

I seriously can’t even begin to describe how amazing this dish is. It’s light and refreshing, yet hearty and filling. All of its flavors elegantly compliment one another: the tenderness of the crabmeat, the zestfulness of the avocado salsa, the crunchiness of the potatoes. It comes with two crab cakes, which are definitely big enough to share. My friends went with wraps and scrambles, which they seemed to enjoy as well. I recommend this place for a soulful yet fresh brunch, especially after a night of partying!

For more information: 1218 State Street, Santa 
Barbara, CA 93101, 805.899.3100, www.tupelojunctioncafe.com,


Where to Drink: Kalyra Winery on the Urban Wine Trail
Santa Barbara has this amazing concept: connect a handful of very unique wineries and tasting rooms together through a walking wine tasting trail that winds through several blocks and streets. What you get is an exclusive opportunity to taste a variety of different wines in a very short amount of time. The tasting rooms are as diverse as the grapes growing throughout the Santa Barbara region, ranging in style, ambiance, and of course, wine.


 We visited three stops, and my favorite by far was Kalyra Winery. This festive tasting room had just the right balance of a welcoming environment, beneficial wine information, delicious wines and friendly, knowledgeable staff members. And, it stays open until 8pm on weekends, fairly later than most other places, which tend to close around 5pm. But most importantly, all of this came at the right price; a mere $10 gets you eight tastings of really delicious California wines, and even a souvenir wine glass. It’s a great spot to get the most value out of a Santa Barbara wine tasting room!

For more information: Kalyra Winery 212 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, 805.965.8606m www.kalyrawinery.com

Where to be Merry: Cruising On State Street
OK. So this might be an obvious tourist destination, but sometimes it’s important to point out the obvious. As the main thoroughfare in downtown Santa Barbara, State Street has a plethora of bars, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, ranging from the swanky to typical chain stores and also shops unique to the city.

There’s something to explore, no matter the time of day on this street. Even if you grab breakfast here in the morning, that doesn’t mean you should skip painting the town pink after dark here as well; the whole character of this street changes with each hour. Drive down it for a serene, leisurely sightseeing tour (the numerous cars snaking down the street will give you plenty of time to see all of the highlights from the comforts of your car). Or if you’re in the mood to get a dose of exercise, it never hurts to walk the street. To the northwest, State Street has a more residential pocket, and the more southeast you go, getting into downtown and nearing the beach, it’s more active, with clusters of bars and a lively social scene. I recommend seeing it all, if you can!
For more information: http://www.santabarbaradowntown.com
 

Unquestionably, there’s still so much that’s left to be explored in Santa Barbara – I’ve only cracked the tip of the iceberg. There’s the beaches, the clubs, the spas…But for a quick weekend trip out of the smog-infested streets of Los Angeles, I hope to leave you with a few spectacular options that I enjoyed on my first trip there. Happy travels, and perhaps I’ll see you there soon!

About Amber D. Wilson: A native Angeleno with a penchant for exploring new places...but always returning to Los Angeles. When she’s not planning road trips, Amber is busily exploring the wonderful social activities that Los Angeles has to offer. Discover her favorite hangout destinations at her blog website, updated weekly, at www.wilsonswheretoguide.com.

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