Though you usually only hit Santa Barbara in July for the largest French Festival in the western United States, make an exception this year for epicure, SB's month-long eat-and-drinkapalooza, which has blown up like those awesome new handshakes, with 90+ meals, festivals, drinking/merry-being, and so many hotel deals you'll think this is just too bien to be vrai.
Among the best places to:
Stay: Hotel Santa Barbara; 533 State St; 805.957.9300 This right-downtown, Mediterranean-themed lodge's got a deal that includes a bottle of local wine, some snacks, and a $100 dining credit at your choice of two restaurants, one of which's a bistro w/ live music (Savage Garden?) and the other one dedicated to slow food, so here's hoping you like sloth-encrusted tortoise steaks! Book it at HotelSantaBarbara.com
Eat: bouchon Santa Barbara Farmer's Market Foodie Stroll; 9 W Victoria St; 805.730.1160 Unlike in LA where you need to get up before dawn to see chefs snagging cukes, the behind-the-stoves dude at this high-end resto'll take you for a trip down the stalls grabbing freshness for a $65 three-course dinner that also includes paired local wines, presumably vintages like "that new sales tax imposed by Mayor Helene Schneider is ridiculous!" and "the Mesa neighborhood isn't nearly what it used to be". Yup, you want to go to there: BouchonSantaBarbara.com
Drink: Municipal Winemakers' Tasting Room; 22 Anacapa St; 805.931.6864 This just-opened, industrial-feeling drinking nook's got a wall lined with pawn-shop-derived trophies and rotating wines on tap, as well as not-poured-anywhere-else, limited-edition bottles of simply/cleverly named vino ("Bright White" Riesling; "Dark Red" Syrah/Cabernet, etc.), and is the newest of a slew of tasting rooms that call themselves the urban wine trail, which would be a lot nicer if Mayor Schneider hadn't decided to pave it. Drink up at MunicipalWinemakers.com