Words by: Meri Hindes
Photos by: Meri Hindes
You begin your escape on a high. Way up high. Perched by a rooftop pool.
You look around, lazily. To one side, lofty fog-covered mountains peer over rolling vineyards. To the other, boats joyously bob in the Pacific, dotting the horizon. Palm trees sway. The sun calmly sets. Wine glasses merrily clink as the faint sound of jazz drifts through the air.
Welcome to Santa Barbara.
A wine aficionado’s dream. An outdoor enthusiast’s playground. A haven for big city dwellers - and anyone else lucky enough to stumble across its path.
Beware. The surreal natural landscape catches your breath - sharply and in awe. But as you slowly exhale, your eyes begin to wander. There’s so much more to take in. As you glance towards your feet, you can’t help but be captivated by the moorish splendour that surrounds them. Tile after tile. Colour after colour. Pattern after pattern. Striking. Hypnotising.
Moments later, you’re transfixed once again. This time on the never-ending sea of red roof tiles that sit atop a myriad of white stucco buildings.
Half curious, half mesmerised, you begin your descent into the streets, eager to uncover more of the city’s aesthetics. You ignore the buzz of State Street, brush pass the sophisticated eateries and the hidden wine bars. Instead, you find yourself on a delightful architectural trail, a journey through beautiful designs. Where curved forms, fascinating structures, spellbinding designs, playful accents and undeniable Spanish flavours all await…
Below are just some of the fascinating buildings we discovered along the way…
Colourful, zany, distinctive and oh so fun! There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the fanciful design and style of El Jardin. Designed by talented local artist Jeff Shelton, this architectural showpiece takes on a modern and playful version of the Spanish Colonial Revival style found throughout Santa Barbara. A gem not to be missed.
819 Garden Street, Santa Barbara
Another one of Jeff Shelton’s whimsical creations, El Zapato is a Gaudi-esque building that will stop you in your tracks. Prepare to be utterly amazed as your eyes try to digest the creative use of colours and shapes.
522 Garden Street, Santa Barbara
Mission Santa Barbara
Known as the ‘Queen of the Missions’, this timeless beauty is a quintessential example of the architectural style found in the area. The elegantly arched doors, sky-high pink columns and surrounding rose gardens will leave you captivated and charmed.
2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara
One for the plant lovers…
Drive around the area of Montecito, a renowned celebrity hideaway, to view the beautiful gardens of the grand, gated estates. If you have time, visit Lotusland for a magical botanical adventure.
Lotusland: Cold Springs Road, Montecito