Santa Barbara has long been a perfect weekend getaway destination for Californians (such as yours truly). Right in the beautiful central coast of California, it has great weather, great ocean activities, culture, and fine dining; all aspects of delightful weekend breaks and vacations. But, as many times as I’ve absconded to Santa Barbara, it’s always been in the spring and summer. This is pretty surprising, considering that I’m such a big fan of wine-centered trips. Autumn is harvest time and Santa Barbara, south of Paso Robles, is second only to Paso as a best Central California wine region. Annual fall wine and beer celebrations in Santa Barbara make for a great excuse for a weekend getaway!
This year I am fortunately able to spend a few fall days in Santa Barbara, so naturally it’s been important for me to learn about fall festivals in the region. Annual food and drink events that celebrate Santa Barbara’s relaxed sense of luxury highlight all that is wonderful about the area.
Fall Wine and Beer Celebrations in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest — Right smack in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara, this weekend highlights Santa Barbara Wine Country. This year, the Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest is Friday, September 29 to Monday, October 2. “Taste if Santa Barbara Wine Country” starts off the weekend, with special fall wine releases and other wine tastings from local member wineries and small plates from several renown Santa Barbara restaurants. This kickoff event is at The Fess Parker – a Doubletree by Hilton Resort. The immersive weekend continues for celebrates; the Harvest Experience Passport allows for wine tastings at dozens of wineries, and, because we’re talking day drinking here, transportation is provided!
California Brew Festival — This is the inaugural year for this beer-centered event. It’s just one day (this year, at least; if it’s as popular as I think it will be, it should become an annual event) which, this year, is October 7. Over 40 breweries are going to share their craft brews and beer from all over. A Santa Barbara-area band, One 2 Tree, will be performing; imagine relaxing by Santa Barbara’s East Beach with a just-tapped beer, jamming to One 2 Tree’s tunes, and watching the sun set. There will also be a presentation of awards to the top three breweries, and food available for purchase.
Santa Barbara County Craft Beer Week — A celebration of local Santa Barbara breweries makes for a terrific fall getaway. This year, from Monday October 23 to Sunday, October 29, Santa Barbara County Craft Beer Week includes over 15 local breweries sharing pint nights, food pairings, special releases, and live entertainment at over 20 locations in the region. The “Brew Bus” provides transportation, always an important factor for Santa Barbara fall getaways that are so beer/wine centered. The week ends with the second annual Buckles ’n Brews Invitational Beer Festival, which will feature 25 area breweries, a barbecue, live music, a Halloween costume contest (fun!) and more.
There’s lots more to Santa Barbara than just getting your drink on, of course. The Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival celebrates local seafood — coinciding with the start of lobster season — on October 14. This festival is based at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and includes tall ship tours, and free boat rides along with Santa Barbara delicacies implementing local fishermen’s daily catches. Other celebrations for Santa Barbara fall getaways include the 36th annual Taste of the Town, the California Lemon Festival for families (this one has old fashioned county fair type events like pie eating contests and pony rides, along with lemon-based foods, and the Santa Barbara Chowder Fest which, as you might deduce, is basically a chowder showdown.
This fall, consider a weekend in Santa Barbara. Whether it’s a girl’s getaway or romantic weekend for sampling wine and beer, or a family vacation for lovers of all things lemon with pony rides and the beach, there’s something for everyone.