Tuesday, May 28, 2024

State Street, Santa Barbara: Dining and Shopping Paradise

April 18, 2011  
Filed under Global Spotlight

By Vira Pons —

santa barbara skyI like to think things happen for a reason.  My first job out of college was located in Santa Barbara, and I’m glad that it led me there for whatever reason.  Perhaps it’s the same reason why Oprah has a home in the hills of the neighboring Montecito community, and why thousands of adolescents apply to UCSB every year.  Known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is like many of the sun-drenched coastal cities of Los Angeles, yet the difference is the city’s downtown center—State Street.

There is a hustle and bustle of State Street that is hard to miss; the crowd is mixed with locals, tourists and college students.  Spanish-tiled roofs and brick sidewalks proudly portray Santa Barbara’s Spanish history.  Even though many downtown businesses have closed due to the economy, the ones that remain are still going strong, and hundreds of vacationers still flock to this beach town.

For those who are willing to make the scenic two-hour trip north on the 101, the rewards are endless.  There are a wide range of shops, from the local boutiques to national retailers, over 150 dining options, and breathtaking views of the California coast.


silvergreen food

Go through the Paseo Nuevo Mall and dodge the national food chains because what lies behind it is a Santa Barbara original—Silvergreens.  It was started in Isla Vista by the UCSB campus in Goleta.  The menu boasts an array of specialty salads, sandwiches, burgers and pastas, and you can even customize your own meal.  They also have unique daily specials that will sure make your stomach growl, even if you weren’t hungry to begin with.  What’s great about Silvergreens is that they are eco-conscious.  They really take the “green” to heart with biodegradable take-out bags, tables made from recycled materials, making use of local products, and much more.  Another guilt-free aspect to the dining experience is the availability of the nutrition facts on the receipt.  Silvergreens is the first restaurant to do that and it has started a trend among local restaurants. www.silvergreens.com

The Area

There’s no getting around shopping at popular retailers like Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 which all can be found on State Street.  But if you only have time to visit one boutique, be sure to make it to The Area.  Located across the Paseo Nuevo Mall, this little store is an oasis for the female shopper who’s looking for something that can’t be found in an average mall.  The clothing featured range from vintage-inspired fashions to forward looks.  Prices vary greatly too, from $15 to $100, so even the most frugal of shoppers will be sure to find something.

The Peace Store

peace store

If you’re seeking solace and want to avoid crowded retail stores, walk a few feet away to The Peace Store.  You won’t exactly be stepping into the ’60s, but you will be amused nonetheless.  You can peruse through the counterculture literature, check out the clothing, relax on their sofas, and play the guitar that’s available for customer use.  Prepare to stay for a while because The Peace Store also has a home décor section worth browsing through. www.peacestore.com

The Coffee Cat

coffee cat

Before the long drive home, stop by The Coffee Cat for a caffeine fix.  It’s located a block east of State Street across the historic courthouse.  The free Wi-Fi and the abundance of outlets draw many college students and businessmen. The Coffee Cat offers a large coffee and tea menu, along with sandwiches, crepes and other snacks you can get to go for the trip back.  But before you leave, sit back and relax outside and enjoy the day.

To customize your memorable State Street experience, visit SantaBarbaraDowntown.com

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