Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Exploring Santa Barbara's Bay Front & Farmers Market, Santa Barbara, California

Today was our day to begin exploring the city of Santa Barbara. Our first destination was the Visitor Information Center at corner of Cabrillo Blvd and Garden Street which is located in the heart of the bay front. This small and busy place is full of various maps of the area, information about things to do and see, as well as it had a schedule of various area events. This is a great place to help you get acclimated to the area and to get recommendations from local people that will help tailor your visit to your likes and time frame. There is parking behind the Visitor Center and its done on the honor system from $2-$7 depending how long you stay. There are three areas along the bay front to explore; the Harbor, the Wharf and the beaches that connect these first two areas and extend as far as you can see. After receiving the information we needed and a restaurant recommendation for lunch at the harbor, we made the 15 minute walk along the beach and Carbrillo Blvd past the Wharf. This is a beautiful palm lined street with terrific views of the beaches, Wharf and Harbor.
Since our first priority was lunch, we headed directly to Brophy Bros. Restaurant. Brophy's is a second story restaurant in the heart of the harbor that provides indoor and outdoor seating with views over looking the entire harbor. We chose to sit outside and glad we did for we were able to watch a sail boat being lifted out of the water and placed on it's trailer by a small crane, as well as we watching a couple small fishing boats offloading their day's catch of shrimp and halibut. Brophy Bros's menu offered several fresh fish dishes, clam bar selections and various non-seafood options. Suzanne settled on a chicken sandwich and Brad chose the Albacore tuna melt. Both dishes came with fries and their homemade creamy sweet (not too sweet) coleslaw. Both meals were terrific as well as the accompaniments. We also found all the wait staff very friendly and provided great attentive service. We won't hesitate to eat here again when we find ourselves back in the area. (like tomorrow maybe!)
After lunch, we walked out onto the harbor jetty. From here you have open views of the entire bay, the Channel Islands to the west and the city of Santa Barbara against the mountains to the east. The huge bay is teaming with activity. So much so that we found ourselves at times stopping to watch the sailing schools in their small sail boats darting around and the numerous boats coming and going in the harbor. Before leaving the harbor area, we learned of the Tuesday afternoon Farmers Market, so decided to go there after we walked the Wharf. The Wharf is the oldest working wooden prier on the west coast. It has several restaurants, gift shops and locals fishing at the very end. If you don't want to make the quart of a mile walk there is parking on the pier for a fee.
Next we walked up State Street to the Farmers Market. This market occurs every Tuesday evening from 3pm to 6pm and is located between the 400 and 600 blocks on State Street which is in the old historic shopping district. The three block section of State Street is closed off so you can walk with ease. The market had a great selection of locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables along with flowers, herbs, honey, fresh eggs, cheeses, shrimp and many street musicians. We thoroughly enjoyed our casual stroll sampling the local fare.

1. There is a $.25 trolley bus that you can take to/from the Visitor Center up State Street to the old downtown area.
2. There is free parking by the harbor.

Stay tuned....we're heading back to Santa Barbara tomorrow............

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