No Car, No Problem! Wine Tasting Escapades in Santa Barbara


Los Angeles is a large busy city that can at times get overwhelming. Thankfully we are surrounded by beautiful and exciting experiences just a short distance away.

How about hopping on a train to Santa Barbara and enjoying wine tasting by the beach? Sounds good, doesn’t it? The Amtrak from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara takes about 2.5 hours, which seems like a long ride compared to a car trip. But time goes by fast as you enjoy the view of California’s beautiful scenery while enjoying a glass of wine.

When we arrived at our destination, first thing on the list was brunch! We found a very trendy and popular spot on Yelp, Dawn Patrol, which was located across the street from the train station in Downtown SB. The place looked very busy so we were praying that the waiting time was going to be maximum 30 min because it’s very hard to get a table at a popular place on the weekend.  

Anyway, at Dawn Patrol, there was no waiting list, no hostess, and no table reservations. Only a line to order the food. The main thing on the menu was “Build a Hash” with many different options. We decided to order four different ones. I love sweet potatoes, which is why I had to choose it as a base. Salmon was my choice in terms of protein intake because it fills you up but doesn’t make you feel heavy. I must add that one of my friends ordered the corned beef and it was incredible. And of course, you can never go wrong if you order the poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and avocado. It’s was a perfect place to grab breakfast, especially, after a long ride. 

The next main stop was wine tasting!

Last year, I made the same trip with some friends. One of them, you could say, was an expert in wine and loves to collect bottles. So, we took his advice and utilized his “membership”. But this time, I was the “expert”! I had to refresh my memory about the Santa Barbara wineries and was responsible for planning out the itinerary. 

We walked around downtown towards a small square with European architecture. Spain in particular… because the street name was called the El Paseo courtyard, also known as the “Street in Spain”. Overall, it had a very cute atmosphere and the location was great. It brought back a lot of great memories from when I visited Barcelona.

The entrance to the street is topped with flags of different countries. You lose a sense of time and place once you step into the El Paseo Courtyard. The outside world with its busy streets doesn’t seem to exist anymore. You’re surrounded by an atmosphere of joyfulness with the sound of the classical guitar and the smell of a wine’s bouquet. 

Margerum is one of the wineries that stood out the most. The wine tasting cost $15, offering five different types of wine. My favorite was the Rosé! I’m not a huge fan of dry wine, but the Chardonnay was just as delicious.

We didn’t have to walk very far to get to Happy Canyon Vineyard, or as I call it, “The Polo Club”. I say this because the owners of the place are very passionate about the sport. In fact, they’re so passionate, they have a playing field with ponies on their ranch! The winery was decorated with the same Polo theme. Everything was very sophisticated and elegant and it almost made feel like I was really in Britain.

The most interesting part about going place to place is that you’re able to talk to the owners and locals that share their life stories and their business endeavors. All the wine, you’re still drinking and learning about wine.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time before we had to head back home so we took a small promenade to the pier to enjoy the surroundings.

But before we left, we couldn’t skip on the Deep Sea Winery on the pier! Especially with that ocean view! Which, by the way, getting a seat was not easy. We had to squeeze our party of four at a table that was already occupied by a lovely couple who told us about their cruise ship experience.  This sounded like a great idea for an upcoming adventure! After finishing a bottle of Chardonnay, we felt like it was time to order some food and start heading home.

Filled with great wine, delicious food, and amazing memories, we took window seats on the train ride home and dreamt about what our next adventure would be.