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Play Away: Solace in Santa Barbara

So many fine eateries exist in Santa Barbara that one could stay a month and not exhaust the possibilities. The "fresh and local" ethic dominates, especially at Bouchon Santa Barbara, where sumptuous dishes like bourbon-and-maple-glazed duck are married to just the right local vintage by the hyper-knowledgeable staff. Lucky's is the place to be seen in Montecito, and home to some of the finest prime beef offerings in town. Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar at the wharf is chowder and fried seafood headquarters, much like San Francisco but minus the touristic tackiness. La Marina is the place for romance, with its bay windows looking seaward and an extensive wine list to accompany exotic dishes such as pecan-crusted antelope loin. And don't leave town without hitting La Super-Rica Taqueria, the late Julia Child's favorite spot for Mexican food, where you'll find not only the best marinated beef and pork, tamales and sopas in the area, but also a line around the corner for this authentic food stand's highly coveted tables.

For a true taste of the Spanish heritage that took root here some two centuries ago, the Red Tile Walking Tour is a must. The Spanish-Moorish architecture of the Santa Barbara Courthouse is in itself worth the footsteps, with its wrought-iron chandeliers and historic murals, but ascend all the way to the bell tower for an incomparable view. Main drag State Street is home to an alphabetical spectrum of shops, from Macy's and Saks to a half dozen sporting goods stores. Saltwater fanciers may avail themselves of the city's many beaches, where volleyball is a staple diversion. Those more daring can brave the breakers at Rincon Beach, one of the longest and most perfect surf breaks in the country. A more genteel day can be had cruising the wineries of the Santa Ynez River Valley, and while mildly inebriated, you might take in the kitschy charms of Solvang, a Danish village where death by pastries is a fine way to go.


La Purisima Golf Course, 805-735-8395. Yardage: 7,105. Slope: 143. Greens Fees: $43–$63. Architect: Robert Muir Graves, 1986. T+L Golf Rating: ****

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, 805-646-2420. Yardage: 6,292. Slope: 132. Greens Fees: $143–$153. Architects: George C. Thomas/William F. Bell, 1923. T+L Golf Rating: ****

Rancho San Marcos Golf Course, 805-683-6334. Yardage: 6,817. Slope: 136. Greens Fees: $125–$145. Architect: RTJ Jr., 1998. T+L Golf Rating: ****

Sandpiper Golf Club, 805-968-1541. Yardage: 7,068. Slope: 131. Greens Fees: $110–$130. Architect: William F. Bell, 1972. T+L Golf Rating: ***1/2

Glen Annie Golf Club, 805-968-6400. Yardage: 6,420. Slope: 130. Greens Fees: $59–$74. Architect: Robert Muir Graves, 1997. T+L Golf Rating: ***

Santa Barbara Golf Club, 805-687-7087. Yardage: 6,037. Slope: 126. Greens Fees: $31–$41. Architect: Lawrence Hughes, 1958. T+L Golf Rating: ***

El Encanto Hotel and Garden Villas, Santa Barbara; 800-346-7039. Rooms: $269–$759.

Four Seasons Resort Santa Barbara, Montecito; 888-424-5866. Rooms: $450–$2,850.

Montecito Inn, Montecito; 800-843-2017. Rooms: $79–$745.

The Upham Hotel and Country House, Santa Barbara; 800-727-0876. Rooms: $175–$425.

Bouchon Santa Barbara (French), Santa Barbara; 805-730-1160. $$$$

Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar (Seafood), Santa Barbara; 805-966-4418. $$

La Marina (Californian), Montecito; 805-969-2261. $$$$

La Super-Rica Taqueria (Mexican), Santa Barbara; 805-963-4940. $

Lucky's (Steak house), Montecito; 805-565-7540. $$$$

Santa Barbara Courthouse; 805-962-6464, santabarbaracourthouse.org

Solvang; 800-468-6765, solvang.org

State Street, Santa Barbara; 805-962-2098, santabarbaradowntown.com


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