California is a profoundly resilient destination — something you can see for yourself in Visit California’s new spot, “Share the Love”. In the wake of wildfires and mudslides that impacted Santa Barbara early in 2018, restaurateurs, winemakers, hoteliers and others have worked tirelessly to make sure visitors can once again enjoy a magical experience. Similarly, business owners in Ventura County and Wine Country have rebounded from wildfires and are open for business.
Locals are eager to share their California love, and if you’re looking for a way to help, please visit. Here’s a quick look at some of the dreamy destinations featured in the “Share the Love” commercial.
The Santa Barbara Waterfront provides breath-taking views and abundant activities—the perfect way to start a perfect day. If you want to get out on the water, head to Santa Barbara Harbor and rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or perhaps a Jet Ski. (Whale watching excursions and water taxis are available too.) Santa Barbara’s newest lodging option, Hotel Californian, is just steps from the harbour and offers stunning views on its rooftop bar.
Nothing beats oceanfront dining, and The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is so close to the Pacific you’ll feel like you can reach out and literally catch a wave. Whether you’re in town for a few days or a few weeks, you’ll be spoiled with the many culinary options available in Santa Barbara. Be sure to try Loquita, Blackbird, and Smithy Kitchen + Bar, and then ask locals for their recommendations when you’re wandering around the paseos or sipping Pinot Noir in one of the urban wine tasting rooms.
Speaking of wine, no Golden State vacation is complete without a stop in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. Located within the Rutherford appellation in the eastern Napa Valley, Quintessa offers an exclusive Wine Country experience that includes panoramic views, acclaimed wines and the sort of personalized customer service that stays with you long after your visit. Across the Mayacamas Mountain range in Sonoma County, Kunde Vineyards features four distinct tasting experience options, including a Mountain Top Tasting 1,400 feet above the valley floor.
If you’re heading to Wine Country during the summer months, consider the Secret Garden Tour at the Hill Family Estate, an idyllic way to drink in the scenery and sample some great vintages. And don’t miss out on the region’s burgeoning distillery scene: Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol creates bespoke vodka, gin, sloe gin, and whiskey and a tasting room tour will give you a new appreciation of what goes into your glass.
Wherever you find great wine, fantastic food is sure to follow—and that is certainly the case in California Wine Country. Acclaimed chef Christopher Kostow nailed his line during filming at The Charter Oak in St. Helena; he always seems to get it right at his family-style restaurant that celebrates local bounty and a deceptively simple approach to cooking. When you’re in town be sure to try Acacia House, the latest offering from celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, as well as The Fremont Diner, a delightful roadside joint known for its folksy fare.
And if your trip to Wine Country includes a stop in San Francisco, do yourself a favour and order the fried chicken at Tyler Florence’s genial Wayfare Tavern. This always-humming Financial District hotspot possesses a feel-good vibe and specializes in crowd-pleasing plates—it’s a sure-fire winner for lunch or dinner.
Your next stop, San Luis Obispo, may just be the perfect embodiment of the Central Coast. With its nuanced food and wine scene, rich history, and a decidedly mellow vibe, SLO (as the locals call it) is a must-see. This college town also features a slice of ranch culture—thanks to the area’s Santa Maria-style barbecue—and has ranked in past surveys as one of the happiest cities in America.
The spirit of downtown SLO is captured in Mission Plaza and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which dates back to 1772 and overlooks the plaza. Explore the mission and its museum or show up on summer Friday nights for live music on the plaza. Year-round the first Friday of the month offers Art After Dark, with downtown SLO galleries opening their doors for wine tastings, snacks, and chats with local artists. A few blocks away, every Thursday evenings, you can find the city’s farmers market, a showcase for San Luis Obispo’s culinary landscape, including local tri-tip, tamales, craft beer (sample those at The Libertine Brewing Company), and the acclaimed clam chowder from Splash Café. Enjoy the locally sourced scene more intimately at Novo Restaurant & Lounge, which pairs a globally inspired menu with an idyllic creek-side setting.
Be sure to pay a visit to the 110-room Madonna Inn when you are in town. You can finish the day with a slice of the famed pink champagne cake and then retire in one of its quirky themed rooms, such as the Caveman, the Love Birds, and the Fox & Hound.
SLO delivers the goods on the wine-tasting front. Bottles bearing the world-renowned Paso Robles appellation can be found only about 30 miles away. But don’t miss the nearby Edna Valley region, in particular the Chardonnays of Edna Valley Vineyard and the Pinot Noirs of Tolosa. Then, check out the under-the-radar wineries of Arroyo Grande Valley, including the sparkling wines at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery.
San Luis Obispo County—a.k.a. SLO CAL—is home to an array of cool small towns, too. On your way into SLO, try the epic tri-tip at Jocko’s steak house in Nipomo, explore the dunes at Pismo Beach, and then say hi to the lounging sea lions off the coast of Avila Beach. Other essential stops as you then head north toward Hearst Castle include the harbour village Morro Bay, beachy Cayucos, and picturesque Cambria, set on beautiful seaside bluffs.
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