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Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara Blog

posted by:  Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara on: January 28, 2018 10:32:16 AM

food wine santa barbara

There’s just no denying it: Santa Barbara is one of the hottest food and wine destinations in the US right now.

Epicureans from around the globe are flocking here to smell, touch and taste their way through our farms, farmers’ and fisherman’s markets, restaurants, American Vinicultural Areas and local wineries.

Here are three great ways to experience the bounty of the American Riviera…


1. Tour Santa Barbara Wine Country

Santa Barbara Wine Country is home to 220 wineries and is one of the fastest-growing vinicultural regions in the United States. The area is strongly influenced by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. This means that there are six official appellations to explore: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District, and the Sta Rita Hills. And there are plenty of tour companies that will take you along for the ride, so you can just sit back and let them drive you to all the best tasting rooms and local attractions.


2. Explore the Urban Wine Trail

You don’t have to go far to explore the region’s finest wines – in fact, you don’t even have to leave the city. With more than two dozen wine-tasting rooms in the city’s Funk Zone - which is located just blocks from the beach and peppered with surf shops, art galleries and eclectic shops – the Urban Wine Trail offers the opportunity to taste the region’s wines right in the heart of the city.


3. Eat, Drink and Snap your way through Santa Barbara

We know that you can’t help yourself! The very moment that plate or glass of exquisite deliciousness hits your table, you have your camera at the ready. That’s why an ‘Eat This Shoot That!’ tour of Santa Barbara’s neighbourhoods is such a great idea. So grab your camera and spend an afternoon savouring amazing food or sipping top-shelf wines while learning some fantastic travel photo tips. What more could you ask for?


Conveniently located, Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara is just steps from State Street’s world-class restaurants, shops and nightlife, and just minutes from the city’s beautiful beaches. With its gorgeous mountain or red-tiled rooftop views, this historic landmark hotel is the perfect option for those looking for the best Santa Barbara hotel location with some serious style.  Book your stay today. 

hula american asian festival santa barbara

Taking place at EL Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on Sunday October 8, the Asian American Neighborhood Festival is set to celebrate all that is fantastic about the history and culture of the Asian communities that have thrived in and around the Santa Barbara Presidio. Here are five good reasons why you just can’t miss it…


1. You can see Dancing Lions

See the Camarillo Kung Fu and Lion Dance Association perform the pedestal (“jong”) routine in accordance with the International lion dancing standards at 11:30am.


2. You can Learn about Traditional Martial Arts

Master Yun Chao Zhang has been studying traditional Chinese martial arts since he was six years old. He is the recipient of numerous awards for Kung Fu, Swordsmanship and Tai Chi Quan.


3. You can Try to Hula

Angelita Eller and the dancers of Hula Anyone are dedicated to the perpetuation of Hawaiian hula and Tahitian dance traditions. This captivating performance culminates with an audience participation segment. They perform at 1pm.


4. You can see Calligraphers at work

Artist Suemae Lin Willhite will be giving Chinese calligraphy and painting demonstrations from 12pm until 3pm.

5. It’s Free

Yes, attending the festival won’t cost you a penny. There’s also free parking available at the corner of Santa Barbara and Canon Perdido Streets.

With its gorgeous mountain or red-tiled rooftop views, the Holiday Inn Santa Barbara is a great accommodation option if you like a hotel to have some serious style. Built in 1917 and constructed with in stucco exterior and graceful arches, Malibu and Catalina tilework and decorative wrought-iron railings, this historic landmark hotel is one of the finest and earliest examples of California Spanish Revival style – the essence of Santa Barbara’s architecture.

We all know that when it comes to world-class beaches and outstanding surf, Santa Barbara can be hard to beat. But at the end of a day’s fun in the sun, what’s the best way to chill out? Here we’re sharing three of our favorite ways to cool down and kick back in Santa Barbara…

Viva Modern Mexican delicious margarita flights

1. Make Yourself at Home with a Margarita

Known for its uber-colorful margarita flights, Viva Modern Mexican Cuisine on State Street is located in the ridiculously pretty La Arcada Plaza, overlooking a little turtle pond. The vibrant Mexico City-inspired menu blends effortlessly with the fun and friendly service and incredible margarita menu. Try the blood orange margarita (fresh lime and blood orange puree) or the spicy watermelon margarita (jalapeno-infused hornitos plata, fresh watermelon juice and liqueur). They’re just bliss in a glass!

Lucky Penny infamous Frozen Rose 

2. Loosen up at Lucky Penny

Lucky Penny take-away café offers some seriously good wood-fired pizza, artisan coffee and handmade pastries, but if you really want to loosen up, opt for a Frozé: frozen rosé. Not only will you chill right out with this impossibly delicious concoction, but you’ll also be amazed by the building itself, which is entirely covered with copper pennies – making it a true work of art.

Third Window Brewing Pale Ale

3. Wind Down at Third Window Brewing

Third Window Brewing Co. is housed within a restored old barn and feed mill. This glorious old building was built back in 1904 and the brewery it houses today is carrying on that proud legacy, as it mills its own grain. Luxuriate in a cold glass of Summer Saison or tasty pint of ‘Sleepless Clowns’ – or go the whole hog and opt for a flight. You can try any five beers you like. The Belgian-style beers are popular, but if the IPA isn’t sold out, make sure you try that.


With its gorgeous mountain or red-tiled rooftop views, the Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara is a great accommodation option if you like a hotel to have some serious style. Built in 1917 and constructed with in stucco exterior and graceful arches, Malibu and Catalina tilework and decorative wrought-iron railings, this historic landmark hotel is one of the finest and earliest examples of California Spanish Revival style – the essence of Santa Barbara’s architecture.


santa barbara tour california bikes

Cyclists rejoice: Santa Barbara is set to host the Stage Four start of the prestigious Amgen Tour of California men’s competition on Wednesday, May 17.


With its stunning cycling terrain and incredibly scenic backdrop, this is the eighth time that the city has hosted part of the popular cycling stage race, which sees thousands of fans flocking to the oceanfront Cabarillo Boulevard to catch the action.


Here’s what you need to know about the “American Tour de France”and how to hop on some two-wheeled transportation in Santa Barbara yourselfbefore you go…


1. The Amgen Tour of California is a seven-stage, 600-mile Tour de France-style cycling road race that begins on May 14th in Sacramento and concludes on May 20th in Pasadena.


2. The Tour of California is America’s biggest stage race that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams on a demanding course that takes in California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring.


3. The Tour is now designated as a UCI WorldTour event, which means that it attracts the world’s very best teams and cyclists.


4. Santa Barbara is well known as a world-class cycling center with road rides that wind above town and along the ocean, so make sure you take a bike-trip while you’re there. You can mountain bike down rocky trails in the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains or road bike up traffic-free grades like Gibraltar Road.


5. Santa Barbara is bike-friendly in every way. Whether you take time out to pedal a beach-cruiser along Cabrillo Boulevard or to rack up some serious mileage, the diversified landscape has a bike route for everyone.


6. If you don’t want to take your bike all the way to Santa Barbara, there are plenty of beachfront retailers that make it easy for you to rent and ride while you’re there.


7. Having kicked off in Sacramento on May 14th, the Amgen Tour of California Men’s Race takes in Modesto, San Jose, Pismo Beach and Morro Bay before hitting Santa Barbara on May 17th. It then zooms through Santa Clarita, Ontario, Mount Baldy, Big Bear Lake, Mountain High and Pasadena.


8. With its steep, rocky landscapes, the 1,257 miles of maintained trails in the Los Padres National Forest are especially challenging but beautiful to explore.


Book in on May 17th for your Santa Barbara Amgen Tour accommodations, when the Amgen Tour of California pedals through our one-of-a-kind experiences around town.   Located in the heart of town, the Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara is just steps from State Street’s world-class restaurants, shops and nightlife, and just minutes from the city’s beautiful beaches. Built in 1917, this historic landmark hotel is one of the finest examples of California Spanish Revival style that defines Santa Barbara’s architecture.


posted by:  on: March 19, 2017 9:53:41 PM
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There is nothing as special as the memories you make during a family trip. Traveling together allows for a unique type of quality time that takes you and your family out of your daily routine and into a world of new experiences, sights, and sounds to be shared together. Choosing where to share those experiences can be tricky, especially when looking for a destination that serves everyone’s interests when doing a group activity.
Santa Barbara makes it easy, as our town is filled with family-friendly activities, both on land and water. Two exceptionally popular activities that your family will love include a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo and the famous Sea Center on Stearns Wharf.

The Santa Barbara Zoo (
www.sbzoo.org) is unlike other zoos due to its combination of Santa Barbara's natural beauty and its lack of large crowds. This offers a seemingly intimate space that you and your family get to share with the hundreds of animals. With weekly kid-friendly events, a zoo train, and family play areas, your little ones will find much to enjoy.

You can get up close and personal by feeding the giraffes or watching the penguins swim underwater. Your family can even become honorary zookeepers for the day and get a bonus behind-the-scenes look. There are over 500 animals in open, naturalistic habitats, so you’ll meet many furry and feathered friends along the way while learning about their species and ecosystems.

After a zoorrific time, head to East Beach Tacos. Although they’re known for their delicious seafood tacos, we recommend trying their amazing chicken and vegetarian tacos too. Order the Triple Play or order from the kids’ menu for the best value. East Beach Tacos is located right next to the batting cages, in case you are looking for some additional family fun.

Located on Stearns Wharf, the Sea Center (http://www.sbnature.org/sc/2.html) offers numerous marine exhibitions and aquariums along with a breathtaking view of the Santa Barbara Channel. With a focus on hands-on experiences, they offer touch tanks filled with friendly sharks, rays, starfish, hermit crabs, and more.

Their current JELLIES & Friends exhibition lets you enter the mesmerizing world of jellyfish as they float and twirl around illuminated tanks. A spectacular 1,500-gallon tide pool tank allows kids to crawl around and see ocean life from a different perspective. With so many fun and interactive things to do, learning about marine life happens naturally.

Once everyone’s had their fishy fill, we recommend exploring the rest of the goodies on the wharf. Grab a tasty sweet treat at The Great Pacific Ice Cream Co. while watching the sunset or a bite to eat at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., which serves up meals with a beautiful view of the ocean, mountains, and harbor.

Share your best memories from your family adventure with us in the comments below! Now get out there and have some fun!

posted by:  on: January 18, 2017 1:26:28 PM
santa barabara film festival hotel

Grab your most gorgeous gown or your smartest suit: the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) kicks off on February 1.


Offering an incredible array of films from more than 50 countries, as well as 51 world premieres and 64 US premieres, this year’s SBIFF is set to be the very best yet.


There’s also an incredible line up of tributes, panel discussions and free community education and outreach programs to sign up for over the 11 days of the festival. Here are just a few of the highlights from this world class event…


Opening Night

The action starts on Wednesday February 1 at the historic Arlington Theatre with the world premiere of Charged. The film chronicles the journey of chef and outdoorsman, Eduardo Garcia, and his recovery after being electrocuted by 2,400 volts of electricity miles from help in Montana’s backcountry. The film tells Eduardo’s remarkable journey from getting up off the forest floor to becoming the man he is today.


International Gala

This year’s International Gala will feature the US Premiere of Heal the Living (Réparer les Vivants), a French–Belgian drama starring Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Past, Grand Central, The Informant), Emmanuelle Seigner (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Anne Dorval (Mommy, Heartbeats).


The Tributes

SBIFF is an important showcase for Academy Award frontrunners, many of whom have arrived as nominees and gone on to win the Oscar. This year’s honorees include Denzel Washington, who will be awarded the esteemed Maltin Modern Master Award, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who will take home the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award. Jeff Bridges will receive the coveted American Riviera Award.


Closing Night

This year’s festival will come to an end with the period comedy-drama Their Finest on Saturday, February 11 - in advance of the film’s March 24 stateside release. The year is 1940, Britain. With the nation devastated by the war, the British ministry turns to propaganda films to boost morale at home. Realizing their films could use ‘a woman’s touch’, the ministry hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as a scriptwriter in charge of writing the female dialogue. Catrin’s natural flair quickly gets her noticed by charming lead scriptwriter Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin and Buckley set out to make an epic feature film based on the Battle of Dunkirk starring pretentious fading movie star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and their colorful cast and crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation.


Located in the heart of town, the Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara is just steps from State Street’s world-class restaurants, shops and nightlife, and just minutes from peaceful beaches and surf-worthy ocean. The property’s proximity to Historic Old Town Santa Barbara places you at the very center of this exciting city, and yet it offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle in its comfortable, spacious guest rooms.

The best place to stay in Santa Barbara

California makes some of the best wines in the world, and Santa Barbara is home of some of the best wines in California. Between the vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms all around this beautiful part of the state, any trip to Santa Barbara is a master class in the making, tasting, and appreciation of wine. Here's a look at one of our favorite local wineries.


The vines of the Demetria Estate were planted on north facing hills of Foxen Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley in the 1990s and cultivated to develop Rhone style wines. Owned by the Zahoudanis family since 2005, these wines have been raised biodynamically to make for a more environmentally conscious and delicious wine that will flourish for generation after generation. Known for their Viognier and Syrah, visitors to the estate will marvel at the beautiful landscape and ocean views while experiencing the best that Santa Barbara has to offer.

If you’re planning a wine trip to Santa Barbara, consider staying at the Holiday Inn Express Inn Santa Barbara. As one of the most historic hotels in Santa Barbara, we renew the rich legacy of hospitality of the century-old Hotel Virginia with first-class amenities and modern comforts, so that you can fully experience the beautiful sights, sounds, and tastes of California’s central coast. Book your stay now for the trip of a lifetime

posted by:  on: July 28, 2016 3:48:29 PM

Spanish Days Fiesta SB Hotel

In a few short days, Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta will make its annual return. The event will occur from August 3rd-7th at various locations throughout our sun-soaked city. It feat

Here’s everything you need to know about this beloved staple of the Santa Barbara calendar.

First, a bit of background. The event, which dates all the way back to 1924, is a celebration of Santa Barbara’s proud Spanish history, and of the Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers who first settled in the city. The festival seeks to preserve this rich heritage with the “colorful music, dance, and song” and “a spirit of friendliness, hospitality and tolerance.” Needless to say, this is a very special event for Santa Barbarans.

Of course, this annual event isn’t just for locals. It also attracts visitors from all over the country, who came to town to experience the many highlights of its busy schedule, which includes one of the largest equestrian parades in the nation.

That schedule begins on the 3rd, with several festival-starting celebrations. Then, over the next few days, attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy free tours of historic Spanish buildings, authentic Spanish markets, a rodeo, plenty of delicious food and drink, lots of traditional music, and as a result, plenty of dancing! For a full and detailed calendar of events, click here!

To experience this incredible event for yourself, simply book a stay at our hotel in the heart of Santa Barbara. With a range of room types and a long list of excellent amenities, you can be sure your stay will be a comfortable one. And with a fantastic location in downtown Santa Barbara, you’ll be right in the heart of the Old Spanish Days excitement!

We look forward to welcoming you to town!

posted by:  on: July 27, 2016 1:38:30 PM

As summer continues on in Santa Barbara, we would like to welcome some new shops to our sunny, seaside town. While Santa Barbara is not lacking in diverse cuisine and local favorites, there is always room for something new for our hearts and taste buds. Now’s the time to give a big welcome to the unique establishments listed below as they work to bring yummy, mouthwatering options to our plates and inspiring thoughts to our minds.  

Breakfast Culture Club:


Founded on the principle of bringing friends closer together, this new hotspot appreciates artists, filmmakers, and creative minds from all over the world. The founders, a young Santa Barbara native duo, teach locals and travelers alike about the young, fresh, artistic culture that continually thrives in our town.  Grab a handmade coffee while you appreciate the work of the youthful dreamers that fill the space. If you feel inspired to take a part of the club with you, have no fear, the place doubles as a retail store that offers various unique clothing options and designs.

Oveja Blanca Restaurante:

Courtesy of Oveja Blanca Restaurante

Oveja Blanca, sister restaurant to the Black Sheep, has opened its doors to hungry customers ready to inhale the Latin American scents that fill the air. For those who don’t already know, Oveja Blanca translates to white sheep, which alludes to the irony of their neighboring Black Sheep counterpart. Enjoy the Spanish flavors and their Peruvian undertones as you order tapas for the table. Live music adds to the experience as you bask in the friendly company and the warm ambiance that fills the room.


Kanaloa Seafood Market:


What happens when you combine seafood and tacos? Magic! Kanaloa Seafood Market offers some amazing fish taco varieties for people looking for a casual weekend lunch. Options include crispy fish tacos, Korean tacos, Pacific tacos, a taco sampler plate, and more! Not only do you get a chance to enjoy some amazingly fresh seafood, you also get to savor the flavors knowing that all of their food is locally sourced and sustainably obtained.


Chocolats Du Calibressan:

Courtesy of Chocolats Du Calibressan

Inspired by nothing more than a dream and a love for chocolate, this successful chocolatier has graced Santa Barbara with a newfound appreciation for delicately crafted chocolates. Jean-Michel and Jill-Marie Carre bring the finest chocolate creations to California. Indulge your sweet tooth with these hand-made treats as you relish the delectable taste that lingers on your tongue. Whether you are in the mood for truffles, bonbons, caramels, or anything else your chocolate-filled heart can think of, you will be sure to take a couple extra home for later. 

Admire Vintage And Collectible Cars At The State Street Nationals Premier Car Show

Just a short jaunt from our conveniently located hotel, the 2016 State Street Nationals Premier Car Show will take over 11 blocks with a showcase of 300 beautiful vintage and collectible cars on Saturday, May 14.

The car show, held on State Street in between Micheltorena and Gutierrez from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, attracts thousands of spectators and automobile enthusiasts.  This year promises to feature a variety of new vehicle categories and vehicle years, alongside previously shown models like Mustangs and Ramblers. Awards will be presented at 3:00 PM. 

Additional fun activities include a family-friendly Blues Cruise and Chili Cook-Off that will see 11 local restaurants providing tastes of their delicious concoctions. Watch favorite chili-makers win the Mayor’s Trophy and People’s Choice Awards at 4:00 PM and hear live music from the Pacific Coast Blues Band during most of the day. 

To make the most of exciting events like the State Street Nationals Premier Car Show and more, be sure to book your stay with us here at Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara. Along with our convenient location and affordable rates, our boutique hotel boasts 61 one-of-a-kind guestrooms with distinguishing features like exposed brick walls, wrought-iron railings, and French windows. Don’t forget to take advantage of our fabulous hotel amenities such as a complimentary breakfast buffet, complimentary beach cruiser rentals, and room service.