About Suzanne R
Lives in Brooklyn, New York
Since Jul. 2010
25-34 year old female
I'm a bicoastal gal, with parts of my heart (and life) in both New York and San Francisco. I travel to connect, to explore, and to be amazed. To me, the best trips include: places with a fascinating history, natural beauty that leaves me speechless, off-the-beaten-path gems, local food/designers/vendors, and a handful of accidental adventures. (I also adore a good ghost hunt or historical reenactment.
Nature & Wildlife Areas
Bodies of Water
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites
Those islands you see off the shore might be pretty from land, but what awaits you on the islands themselves is even more incredible. This string of 8 islands is like California's own (far-less-known) Galapagos, with more than 2,000 plant and animal species, 145 of which are found only on the Channel Islands. Visitors to this natural paradise can hike to spectacular vistas, snorkel through forests, and kayak into hidden grottoes.
Set in the quiet of the Ellwood Mesa, this copse of eucalyptus trees is pretty all year round, but it becomes flat-out magical November through February. That's when thousands of monarch butterflies migrate to the area to make their homes in the shelter of the tree branches. On cool mornings, they'll look like odd clusters of leaves (a camouflage technique), but you'll see more movement as the day warms up.
Situated 30 miles from downtown Santa Barbara, Gaviota State Park is a quiet escape with campgrounds, hiking trails, and places for swimming — but the locals love it best for its hot springs. Just off the trail to Gaviota Peak, the natural, sulphuric springs are a pleasant respite to soothe tired legs and enjoy healing waters. Just beyond, the peak offers stellar views of the coast, with the Channel Islands in the distance. If you aren't up for the hike, you can also wander under the train trestle to Gaviota Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand that is almost always quiet.
Situated at the base of Santa Barbara City College, Leadbetter Beach one of Santa Barbara's most popular stretches of sand, great for strolling, sailing, or just plain sunning. There's always a buzz of activity here, and the bluff extends out into the water, affording impressive views. When hunger strikes, Shoreline Beach Cafe helps you alleviate it without venturing off the sand.
As a student at UC Santa Barbara, I spent countless precious hours walking the paths that wind around the campus lagoon and up above on its bluffs. But you don't have to be a Gaucho (UCSB's mascot) to be enamored with a university campus that boasts not only a tranquil lagoon, but its very own beach (Campus Point). Winding its way around the southwest section of campus, the UCSB Lagoon is surrounded by all manner of flora, with a myriad of fauna that also calls this natural wonderland home. The pretty path winds around the lagoon, connecting it to Campus Point.
From its perch in the glitzy Riviera neighborhood, with Santa Barbara stretching out below it, historic, overgrown Franceschi Park feels like an untouched, long-forgotten secret garden. Planted in the late 19th-century by horticulturalist Francesco Franceschi, who is famous for importing some 900 plant species to this lush area, the 40-acre property has long been rather disheveled and overgrown, but that only adds to its mysterious appeal. Whether you clamber along its network of trails, secret yourself away to a little nook and read a book, or simply take in the incredible views, you'll feel like you've stumbled upon a magical place all your own.
Riding a bike along the beach is a quintessential Santa Barbara (or perhaps even California) experience. Stretching from popular East Beach all the way to Stearns Wharf, the paved Cabrillo Bike Path, runs parallel to the water, ideal for biking or strolling.
Backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains, Mission Santa Barbara more than just a stunning historic church. Its grounds and garden are a relaxing place to while away an afternoon, reading or napping on the grass.