Santa Barbara Palm trees at sunset

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Reality vs. Expectations

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Reality vs. Expectations

Like I said in my expectations post, I have never been to California before this. I can see why everyone falls in love with it, though. It was sunny all the time, with a cool breeze as you walked down the beach. It was beyond relaxing, I can’t wait to go back and stroll along Arroyo Burro Beach County Park again.

The reason my Mom and I chose Santa Barbara for our mother/daughter trip was because of Arroyo Burro Beach County Park. Articles about sea glass collecting made this beach seem like it was going to be covered in sea glass, basically sea glass instead of rocks. This wasn’t the case at all! We found some sea glass, but it took some real sea glass hunting skills to find pieces. We even got to the beach first thing in the morning at low tide and before the crowds. Even though that was disappointing, it was still a gorgeous beach. My favorite memory of the trip was walking along the beach in the morning mist and listening to the ocean.

Getting There

EXPECTATIONS: Finding a flight wasn’t a problem. Finding an affordable flight to Santa Barbara was. To fly into Santa Barbara was about $600 and more than I had wanted to spend. So this trip is going to be a mini road trip. We are going to fly into Los Angeles airport (LAX) ($200 ticket), rent a car, and head on up to Santa Barbara.

REALITY: This worked out well. I’m also a sucker for a good road trip so renting a car and driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara was right up my alley.

Seal of Santa Barbara
Seal of Santa Barbara


EXPECTATIONS: The nice thing about California being so popular is that you can always ask co-workers and friends for recommendations because odds are they have been there. I had some co-workers who recommended restaurants and sites. The rest of the sites I had found through some Googling and TripAdvisor searching. We will probably spend most of the time on the beach though!

REALITY: Although there was a lot to do in Santa Barbara, we spent most of our time on Arroyo Burro Beach County Park. No regrets, it’s a beautiful beach!

Arroyo Beach County Park


EXPECTATIONS: I’m hoping for decent weather and nothing outrageously hot. I’m from the Midwest and don’t do well in 90 degree weather. It should be in the 80s-70s when we are there. Fingers crossed that doesn’t change.

REALITY: It was the perfect 80 degrees.

Morning mist dissipating on Arroyo Burro Beach County Park
Morning mist dissipating on Arroyo Burro Beach County Park


EXPECTATIONS: We are renting a car to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Santa Barbara. It seems like most the places we are going to in Santa Barbara won’t give us any trouble finding parking.

REALITY: We stayed near Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. It was a pretty walk-able area with a lot of restaurants. If you want to venture further out though, a rental or ride share service would be recommended. It was great having our own car for places like Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Arroyo Burro Beach, and Chaucer’s Books.

Our road trip rental car
Our road trip rental car


EXPECTATIONS: I’m thinking there will be a lot of seafood and fresh farm-to-table type foods. We plan to check out a place called Rori’s that specializes in inventive ice cream…so lots of ice cream as well 🙂

REALITY: Rori’s ice cream was so good! There were also a lot of fish tacos and lobster rolls. My food expectations were exceeded.

Rori's Artisanal Creamery
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery 🙂


EXPECTATIONS: #beachvibes

REALITY: 100% accurate

Fruity drinks at Boathouse at Hendry's Beach
Fruity drinks at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach

Stay tuned to see what the reality of my trip was!

Happy Travels,


You might also like:

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Top10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Vacation

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Reality vs. Expectations

ROUTE 66, USA: Top 5 Surprising Things I Found

HAVANA, CUBA: 30+ Tips I Wish I Knew Before Vacation

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