Santa Barbara’s Sensational Brews
The warm California sun is out, you’re ready to indulge and relax on your honeymoon, and the beach beckons to you. But maybe before you break out your towel and dip your toes in the sea you should grab some refreshments and scope out the downtown scene. Perhaps after you splash around for a bit and let the vacation vibe really sink in then you’ll be ready for a cold beer? Better yet, how about both before and after the beach?
In Santa Barbara, California, you will find enough creative craft brews to easily occupy your time (and taste buds) whether pre-beach or post. Not only will the breweries be plentiful enough to potentially occupy your whole itinerary, but the variety and unique characteristics they bring to this city will enhance your entire Santa Barbara honeymoon experience.
From historical architecture and a buzzing arts vibe, to sea life and garden tours, this eclectic beachside locale will appeal to both you and your partner, regardless of your entertainment preferences. Of course, everything's better when you’ve got a great drink in hand, and Santa Barbara does nothing but impress when it comes to that. Sit back, relax, and get ready to discover your next favorite destination.
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Key Facts About Santa Barbara
Climate: Gorgeous! The average highs range from 65-75 degrees throughout the year. A mild subtropical climate, but winter can be a bit rainy.
Best time to visit: If you want a classic beach experience, then summer is your best bet to soak in those warm rays from a blanket on the sand. Early spring and fall are the best times to avoid crowds, yet still experience the many wonders Santa Barbara has to offer.
Popular towns in the area: Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito
Nearest international airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about a two hour drive from Santa Barbara. For a closer option, look into flights to Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA).
Things to know: Santa Barbara is a great jumping-off point for so many other things to see and do around the area. If you need another excursion after trying the awesome breweries of Santa Barbara, head up the road to Goleta to find even more tasty local craft beers. If you decide to partake in all the history and museums that the city has to offer, call ahead to get status updates in regards to pandemic regulations.
DID YOU KNOW?Judge R.B. Ord brought the first Mexican avocado tree to Santa Barbara in 1871. In the 1920s, Rudolph Hass (a mailman) purchased one little seed that he eventually patented as the now well-known Hass avocado. Originally referred to as an “alligator pear,” now California grows 90% of the United State’s crop of this popular fruit.
The Breweries of Santa Barbara, California
Night Lizard Brewing Company
What could be better than partaking in a cold craft beer made from local ingredients? Enjoying that beer while also giving back to the environment! Night Lizard Brewing Company does exactly that at their family-owned downtown brewery.
You may be wondering, what is a night lizard? And what is the connection to good beer? The brewery raises awareness of local California endangered species by naming their beers after some of these fascinating creatures. The actual island night lizard is found exclusively in the Channel Islands, but you can enjoy the light and refreshing SoCal style Night Lizard Lager right in the city.
You are sure to find the right beer for your taste from their extensive menu - whether you choose your brew based on the name or the flavor! From the Gnatcatcher IPA to the Song Sparrow Sour, each of their beers gives/provides a percentage of its profit to supporting central-California conservation.
Their Lupine Porter offers guests a rich caramel flavor with hints of nut and chocolate for a perfect sit-and-relax sipper. The brewery also offers creative fare such as Lebanese Sfeehas (a middle-eastern meat pie) with lamb or veggies to meet your needs in both food and drink. For a lighter option, pair a snack of their Santa Barbara Pistachios with a Bush Mallow Honey Blonde ale.
Whichever craft beer you opt for while visiting Night Lizard, enjoy the knowledge that you’re helping out the environment while you also treat yourself with these great flavors.
Words of Wisdom from the Head Brewer: "Our brewery is family owned and operated, six blocks from the beach. The brewery and our beers are named after local threatened and endangered species in an effort to raise awareness about environmental challenges facing the central coast. We give back 10% of our annual profits to local environmental non-profits."
NIGHT LIZARD BREWERY DETAILS:
Year Founded: 2018
Flagship Beer: Night Lizard Lager
Address: 607 State Street
Third Window Brewing
Passion. Cultivation. Purity. These are the three guiding principles behind Third Window Brewing, and it shows when you stop into the taproom to explore their ever-changing selection of beers. When you’re exploring downtown Santa Barbara, stop in at the corner of Haley and Laguna to taste what this place is all about.
Housed in a refurbished barn originally built in 1904 (known as The Mill), the taproom itself inspires imagination and creativity, even before your first sip. Focusing on the Trappist-style of Belgian ales, the creator behind the brewery aimed to create beers he wanted to drink, and to keep things fresh and new all the time.
Love a good Belgian beer? Well, Third Window can happily supply you with their Belgian Dunkel, Belgian Trippel, or a Belgian Blonde. Perhaps you should try all three to really experience all this foreign flavor found right in sunny Santa Barbara.
If a stout is more to your liking, then introduce yourself to Oatey McOatface. It’s notes of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are available on both CO₂ and nitro.
Does the California sun have you craving something more on the light and sweet side? Then sample a Grey Ghost pale ale or Third Window’s Saison that leaves you with notes of lemongrass and candied biscuit.
The brewery has a deep family connection, too. It brings itself full-circle by offering indulgent Wagyu beef smashburgers. These tasty works of art are made from beef raised by the brewery owner’s sister on the Fess Parker Home Ranch. The herd is even fed from the spent grains from the brewery, offering a true exercise in sustainability (while keeping your hunger fully satisfied with amazing flavors).
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THIRD WINDOW BREWING DETAILS
Year Founded: 2016
Flagship Beer: None! Owner Kris Parker didn’t want to go that route, and planned on brewing what he wanted to drink - and may never brew the same beers twice.
Address: 406 E. Haley St, #3
Lama Dog Tap Room & Bottle Shop
While not technically a brewery, Lama Dog is unique and impressive enough to hold its own if you’re looking for good beer in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. The tap house features 20 revolving craft brews on tap, as well as four wines (including some of the owner’s own label) and a gluten-free selection.
If that isn’t enough to pique your curiosity, their impressive bottle shop carries about 350 unique bottled beers from around the globe. Wondering about the name of the tap house? Following their eclectic global ideals, Lama is actually the owner’s Tibetan Mastiff (keep your eyes peeled for him while you visit).
You might be wondering, what types of beer does Lama Dog rotate since they aren’t brewing their own? The crew here actually travels to a variety of California breweries to bring creative, local craft brews to their Santa Barbara taproom. Their staff is well-known for in-depth beer knowledge, too, so ask all your burning brew-related questions while you’re enjoying your drink of choice.
Although ever changing, the list currently offers several selections from Enegren Brewing Company in Moorpark, CA, like the Koffee Brau, a German style porter. Don’t have enough time to visit San Diego on this trip? Luckily Lama Dog can bring San Diego to you with Black House Nitro Stout from Modern Times Beer.
For even more unique flavors, give the Ginger Lime Rosehips kombucha from Boochcraft a try. Lama Dog truly has a drink for every palate, from a Real Dry cider from Stem Cider in Denver, CO, or the Golden Monkey Belgian Trippel from Victory Brewing in Downington, PA.
To complement any of the myriad of beer options, The Nook brings elevated street food to Lama Dog with their offerings of everything from a blackened shrimp salad to a variety of unique burgers. Try pairing a Raspberry Grove kettle sour (from Woodhouse Brewing in Santa Cruz) with rockfish tacos for a delicious beachside taste. Be assured, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for (and probably more) when you stop in at Lama Dog.
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LAMA DOG TAP ROOM & BOTTLE SHOP DETAILS
Year Founded: 2016
Address: 116 Santa Barbara Street
Figueroa Mountain Brewing
From the top of Figueroa Mountain, visitors get a spectacular view of the San Rafael Wilderness. But even without taking on the summit during your honeymoon, you can find a little of the peak’s splendor down in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.
The father-son duo behind Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company wanted to showcase both their love of beer and that of the Santa Ynez Valley. Each bottle of crafted perfection features artwork depicting the natural beauty of the area, and is filled with equally impressive flavors.
From the clean and crisp Fig Mountain Light, to the award-winning Danish Red Lager, their menu features both staple brews and specialties like Van Milder, an English pub ale hinting of coffee, raisins, and molasses.
Need a shareable appetizer to accent your beverage of choice? The Lizard’s Mouth IIPA hot wings might just be the ticket, or the zesty “The Pike'' nachos. Maybe your exploration around the artistic Funk Zone has you calling for something more hearty? Luckily, the brewery also offers the Santa Maria Tri-Tip sandwich, made with a barbeque sauce created with the brewery’s own Davy Brown Ale.
This one is a classic staple of the area’s brew scene. Plus, they have six locations in this region, in case you get a craving to stop in to experience another of their tap rooms as you explore. Most offer live music, as well as an outdoor area to kick back and leisurely enjoy one of their flavorful selections.
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FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN BREWING DETAILS
Year Founded: 2010
Flagship Beer: Fig Mtn Mosaic
Address: 137 Anacapa St, Suite F
M. Special Brewing Co.
With its curious name actually stemming from a combination of family, friends, and memories, M. Special Brewing is a great spot to start making memories of your own. They offer guests a wide variety of craft beer options - whether you prefer to stick to tried-and-true IPAs or like to play around with more unique flavor twists.
Special’s core beer lineup has a huge variety in itself, plus you can count on a few fun specialty brews to mix things up on your visit. Start off with their flagship M. Special American lager, or the Dozer Special American brown with its subtle notes of brown sugar, toffee, and caramel.
What’s a good lager without some flavorful pub fare to share? The appetizers alone at M. Kitchen will satisfy and intrigue your taste buds, before you even make it to the main course. Try the crispy fried tempura asparagus or the sweet and spicy bacon baked with brown sugar. The menu also features a California roll that has been tempura-battered and topped with spicy mayo. Regardless of your choice of snack, you’ll have a multitude of beers to pair it with.
For a lighter refreshment that is a perfect complement to the beach vibe you’re here to enjoy, then the G-Town grapefruit IPA is the way to go. As a collaboration with the Goodland Hotel in Goleta, the fruity indulgence won’t soon be forgotten as you continue your travels.
Taking in a day trip to explore the other towns nearby? If the grapefruit IPA has you curious about Goleta itself, then check out the brewery’s original location, where you’ll immediately notice the impressive live edge bar top in the pub. The taproom welcomes live music and food trucks to keep things fun and relaxed for both visitors and locals alike.
M. SPECIAL BREWING CO. DETAILS
Year Founded: 2015
Flagship Beer: M. Special American Lager
Address: Goleta Taproom: 6860 Cortona Drive Suite C, Goleta, CA 93117
State Street Taproom and M Kitchen: 634 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Getting Outdoors in Santa Barbara
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you picture California? The amazing coastline and beautiful beaches! And Santa Barbara has no shortage of photo-worthy spots to lay down a towel and soak in the sun. Butterfly Beach, in Montecito, offers an east-west orientation with spectacular sunset and sunrise views. Easily accessible by a short drive or bike ride from Santa Barbara, this is the perfect place to make your California beach dreams come true.
What complements the gorgeous California beaches? The water, of course. Whether you want to try cave kayaking or snorkeling in the Channel Islands (known as “The Galapagos of North America”), or take paddle boards and explore along the Gaviota Coast, the pristine waves will beckon you to the adventures they offer. Perhaps you have always wanted to try your skills on a surfboard? There are plenty of local shops from which to get the gear and the know-how. Or if you prefer to stay on the drier side of things while still appreciating the waves, climb aboard a whale watching boat to take in the natural beauty of the open ocean and hopefully spot one of the majestic mammals that call this area home.
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There are numerous well-rated outfitters to take you for a short ride along the beach, a longer trek into the mountains, or a ride ending in a romantic sunset picnic. Some of the local stables also offer vineyard rides that allow you to capture the beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley in a fun and unique way.
Are you an avid mountain biker looking to fly down some singletrack? Or just a leisurely ride down State Street to grab a bite and a beer? Maybe even a sunset cruiser ride along Cabrillo Boulevard is the perfect honeymoon outing for you and your partner. Whatever your needs, there are a variety of retailers in Santa Barbara to get you on your way with the perfect type of pedaling.
The Santa Barbara area has several beautiful displays of native flora, one being the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Known as a living museum and dedicated to research and conservation of California plant life, this 78-acre facility highlights the natural beauty of the area for visitors to explore. If one garden only piques your interest for more, then you’re in luck, because Lotusland in nearby Montecito offers just that. With more plant life, more history, and more landscape to explore, this former estate of a Polish opera singer has features such as a cactus garden, a Japanese garden, and plenty of others.
The Sights of Santa Barbara
Arts and Culture Festivals
No matter the time of year, Santa Barbara can offer honeymooners a plethora of entertainment options centered around arts and culture. From the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (featuring both drive-in style at Santa Barbara City College as well as virtual options) to the Earth Day Festival featuring organic food booths and even a green car show, every couple can find a one-of-a-kind event. Memorial Day weekend brings an Italian street painting festival, the Summer Solstice Parade brings energy and creativity to the changing of the seasons, and by September you can experience the Santa Barbara Sea Glass and Ocean Art Festival. There are enough unique experiences happening in the area that you’ll be tempted to stay for the whole year just to see them all.
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Although the craft beer scene alone could keep you busy for your entire trip, when you think of California you probably can’t help but think of wine. With more than 20 tasting rooms to explore in the area, you won’t run out of vintages to sip. The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail covers two popular areas, the Funk Zone and the Presidio Neighborhood. Whether you prefer a syrah or want to experience your first voignier, you’ll find your own perfect tannins in this creative location. The Funk Zone’s artistic vibe also lends itself to admiring the galleries between tasting rooms. For the Presidio portion of your wine wanderings, you’ll take in the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of the neighborhood between sips of chardonnay and pinot noir at a variety of elegant establishments. Finish off your tour with a visit to El Presidio Historic State Park, known as the Spanish explorer’s last California fortress.
The urban wine trail, as satisfying and convenient as it is, may only increase your curiosity when it comes to the wines of central California. Take a day trip north of Santa Barbara toward Santa Ynez, Solvang, and maybe even to Santa Maria (a little over an hour’s drive). Taste the wines straight from the vineyards themselves as you explore dozens of wineries in the area. You might stop in at Sunstone Winery, a family-owned, organic, bio-sustainable operation producing a variety of delicious reds, whites, and rosés. If you venture up to the Santa Maria valley, try Costa de Oro, whose tasting room just off the 101 Freeway features local, live music on the weekends. Whether you stay closer to the city or are inspired to venture further for more delicious discoveries, you won’t be disappointed as you admire the beauty that surrounds you on your travels.
Built in 1872, it is the oldest working wooden wharf in California. Although it has endured quite a history between fires and boat crashes, it’s longevity has made it a real icon in Santa Barbara history. Nowadays, you can find everything from a plate of delicious fish and chips to a shop selling unique shells and other nature-made finds. Want to simply enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise after a busy day on your honeymoon? Then this is your place. Maybe a tarot card reading is in your future? Well, you can find that here as well! It’s also a quick walk to several of the breweries to sample even more of the great beers you haven’t tried yet.
Established in 1786, The Mission Santa Barbara is an impressive piece of history and architecture. It has had the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States all flying at points in its past. Today, it houses a museum, gift shop, gardens, and is home to a community of Franciscan friars. Although in our current pandemic state the tour status has been ever-changing, this is still worth a walk or drive-by to take in the beauty of the structure. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a truly beautiful public building if there ever was one, features a unique four-faced clock tower as well as the signature arches and red tile of the Spanish-Colonial style. The Granada Theater, a downtown historical landmark for almost a century, is the home of the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Opera, State Street Ballet, and even more groups and events. It is not only a historical icon but speaks to the importance of the performing arts in this community.
Museums & Zoo
Where can you find 3.5 million artifacts ranging from anthropology to geology just a mile from downtown Santa Barbara? The Museum of Natural History, offering visitors an impressive array of knowledge to walk away with. They also have a Sea Center, located at Stearns Wharf, where you can indulge yourself in all the wonders of the Santa Barbara Channel (including a 1,500 gallon tidepool tank and shark touch pool). Located in the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art is also worth a stop to add to your rapidly growing arts and culture knowledge. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the Historical Museum can also easily occupy your time if you want to immerse yourself in all things CA history. The newest of the city’s history, and potentially the most fun and unique, is the MOXI. Focusing on technology and innovation, this wonderland offers engaging hand-on science exhibits as well as an impressive rooftop Sky Garden to take in the views from its location on State Street. If animals are your go-to entertainment, definitely check out the Santa Barbara Zoo. One of the nation’s best small zoos, this 30 acres near the beach is packed full of creatures to keep your interest as you stroll around the grounds.
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Santa Barbara is no-doubt bursting at the seams with both entertainment and delicious craft beers. It will be a challenge to narrow down your options for a jam-packed, highly satisfying honeymoon experience in this eclectic city on the beach.
From pilsner and pub fare to wine and seafood, any couple can find that perfect combo to hit the spot when it comes to food and beverage in Santa Barbara. If you’re now intrigued enough that you’re even considering a beachfront destination wedding, this could be a prime location for both you and your guests.
You won’t run out of things to do nor beers to taste while you’re here, but it will be a good test of marital communication and compromise to narrow down your list for the time you have on your honeymoon in Santa Barbara. When the end of your visit is upon you and the responsible thing to do would be to start packing your bags, you’ll most likely be ready to order another round instead!