Day 5: Santa Barbara to Arroyo grande

This is our first city-day since we started the road trip. It feels good to not wake up and drive for hours. Instead, we spend the day exploring Santa Barbara, without any particular goal, route, or schedule.

That is, besides the visit to the UPS office to arrange for them to pick up the laptop. The staff find it amusing and all take turns to get some details, help out, and crack a few jokes about us. We are not really sure when we are going to be where, but end up arranging to receive the laptop at some office in San Francisco.

With that out of the way, we look for breakfast somewhere downtown. We end up on  Jeannine’s Bakery‘s terrace, munching on eggs and pastry, after passing by a fountain full of turtles. This part of Santa Barbara looks really cozy.




We want to check out some historical sites in the city, and are undecided between going first to the Courthouse or the Mission. We decide for the former, based on distance to where we are and a random lady who kind of insistently encourages us to go to the Courthouse. It’s OK, lady, we’ll check it out. And the Courthouse turns out to be a nice and chill place to spend a few hours! It’s a warm day, and the thick walls covered in old Spanish murals keep the interior cool, plus the view over the city from the tower is pretty good. After exploring rooms and halls, we finish the visit lying under a palm tree on the courtyard.

Next mandatory stop is Stearns Wharf. We walk down State St. and get there already by lunchtime. The beach looks really inviting but, even in the day’s heat, there doesn’t seem to be anyone swimming. The Pacific must be a damn cold beast. The wharf is almost like a small town on its own, it’s quite massive. We stroll around for a while, checking out the white seagulls and boats posing in front of the infinite blue background, and then it’s already time to fill up again. There on the wharf is Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, which seems just right for the moment. Great seafood with a view!


After a late lunch and a walk back up State St., it’s time to keep the journey going. We leave Santa Barbara with a really nice impression–a chill, pretty city with a walkable downtown is right what we needed after the days on the road.

We head up North towards Arroyo Grande (as usual, chosen mainly for a convenient motel). This will be our starting point to drive through Big Sur, the next main item on our list. Right out of Santa Barbara, the 154 goes right through Los Padres National Forest; it’s a pretty fun road to drive, up and down hills that reveal some scenic views. After that, we join 101, which will be a staple throughout the rest of our trip.

In Arroyo Grande, after managing to find the motel, we check in and get on the car again to try and catch the sunset from Pismo Beach. We miss it by minutes, but still get to see a beautiful red-tinted sky over the sea. We spend the remaining daylight shooting pictures of the waves, the sand, the fishermen. We call it a day drinking beer at the motel.






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