Santa Barbara: Our First Anniversary

Casa Del Mar Inn

It’s our first wedding anniversary. Wow, how time flies. This has to be special! We have been living like nomads for since the beginning of summer. After pulling off a huge relocation from the PNW to SoCal , just about a month before, we are settled and ready to celebrate.

Casa Del Mar in Santa Barbara had been our last stop on our Relocation Road Show before reaching our new home. But we were so tired and feeling like zombies from almost two weeks on the road, we just really could not enjoy our stay to it’s fullest. So I had the brilliant to surprise Andy with a return trip for our first anniversary.

We both love sunny Santa Barbara. The Spanish style Casa Del Mar Inn has been my go to bed and breakfast since 1993. The rooms are romantic and charming. Each room is a little different ( no cookie cutter here). The courtyards have lush tropical plants, fountains, and a fire pit. Both Breakfast and wine and cheese hour are served in their cozy common room with a fireplace. You can take your treats back to your room or hang our and enjoy conversation with the other guests. My favorite rooms are located upstairs just above the lobby, and include a balcony and patio chairs. This spot gives you a sneak peak of the harbor ( Just a block away) and the San Ynez Mountains. The beach, pier, harbor, and several restaurants are just steps away.


As with every trip we are excited, but we have learned by this time to expect a “glitch.” Boy did we get one! Just 9 miles from our destination, BANG! We get rear ended by a large late model Buick. Long story short our is still drivable, but the back end is so badly damaged that we can not open the trunk or use the back up camera. ( The car will be totaled when we return home) We are not hurt, just frazzled, and not giving up on our destination.


We finally arrive at Casa Del Mar just in time for their complimentary wine and cheese hour. Wow do we need it. One of the things I love about this lovely little, 20 room boutique hotel is how they make their guests feel welcome. So no matter if you you are stressed from spending weeks on the road relocating, you have just been in an accident, or you have driven miles in a major rain storm(check back for our latest trip to CDM), you will instantly begin to relax and unwind. Besides it being wine and cheese hour we are surprised to find that we have been given my favorite rooms for our two night stay. The upstairs corner room with outside table and chairs and the peaks at both the mountains and harbor. Us two shell shocked travelers are able to calm right down.

Besides the generous wine and cheese provided by CDM, we have brought an extra special bottle from our own collection along with the Traveling Wine Glasses. Thankfully both the bottle and the glasses were unharmed in the impact, but the Traveling Glasses are looking a little sad after their many journeys.

We are toasting our first year of marriage with a bottle of A Blooming Hill 2012 Pinot Noir from the winery that we were married at. Something magical happens to Pinot Noirs at the five year mark. They loose their edge and become very smooth and full bodied. We enjoy this special bottle of wine on patio, with cheese, fruit, sea air, and tropical plants. Our drama melts away.

Andy Completes My Bucket List

The next morning Andy surprises me with a horseback ride in the Santa Ynez Hills. Going horseback riding was the last thing on my long bucket list I created after a cancer scare years ago. I am really excited! We are heading to the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch, a full service Dude Ranch that also offers cabins and spa services, bordering the Ronald Reagan Ranch, to enjoy a riding tour curtesy of Captain Jack’s Horse Back Riding Tours. If horses aren’t your speed you might want to try wine tasting or kayaking. Or customize your day with a combination of experiences.

We are welcomed and introduced to our horses, sweet boys named Zeus and Dunnit. I had a horse as a kid and took lessons, but it has been decades since my equestrian days. My horse, Dunnit, is patient with me, but occasionally takes advantage of my rusty horsey skills to stop and snack on bushes. Andy looks studly on his stead, Zeus. The other riders in our group tour seem to have less experience than us. So they hang back a bit. This puts us up a the front with the best views of the canyon and able to have an informative conversation with our cowboy guide. We trot our way through the canyon and up the hills to a view point overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

After being cowboys and girls it is time to hit State Street for some shopping and rustling up some grub.

State Street in Santa Barbara is the stylish 10 block shopping, dining, and entertainment area in the heart of downtown. Since 2020 it has been turned into a pedestrian mall, called the State Street Promenade. Making it even better. We can’t wait to got back!( Spoiler alert! We have!) The shops are a mix of high end, low end, vintage, local, and chains. Something for everyone. We hit a taco stand on a side street and wind our way shopping up and down State Street getting our retail fix. Then arrive back at the hotel just in time for wine and cheese. Could it get any better? Horses, shopping, wine and cheese!

Our evening is spent taking a long walk on the waterfront, enjoying the sunset and the boats in the harbor. We stop for some dinner. We had a nice outside seat with a fire pit, but the customer service was not all that good, so we just had to make our own fun.

In the morning after breakfast we take a long sunny walk on the beach and make a plan to visit Mission Santa Barbara for some history. Then maybe some wine tasting in San Ynez before we limp our poor car back down south. But first we nee to check out Chocolate Maya.

Chocolate Maya is old world style chocolate located in a tiny jewel box shop. All of the chocolates are hand crafted and beautifully decorated. Flavors include pear and cinnamon, cardamom black tea, Santa Barbara sage and honey, Pinot Noir, and pink pepper corn. The list goes on. It is amazing chocolate! There is also a window where you can watch the chocolate artists in action. This shop needs more visits.(Yup while I am writing this I have their cardamom black tea chocolate on my breath!)

We work off our chocolate buzz wandering the grounds of Mission Santa Barbara, built in 1786. Then head to Bridlewood Winery for a tasting and to enjoy a stroll through their estate. ( as of the time of writing Bridlewood has closed and there is no word on if it has been sold or if it will open again.) I an happy to report that we are still in posesion of a bottle of Bridlewood, Santa Ynez Valley 2015 GSM Blend. This will stay in our special collection gather dust for a little while longer.

Vacation over, time to crawl our sad car home. But Andy has one last surprise for me. He takes me to watch the sunset at his favorite beach, Leo Carillo State Beach, in Malibu.

Check back soon! We just returned from another trip to Santa Barbara. We will have more to share soon.