Category Archives: News

Hollister Brings Its Teen Vibe to New Store in Downtown Santa Barbara

Hollister has opened along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, replacing Abercrombie & Fitch. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara’s downtown is getting younger.

Abercrombie & Fitch, the well-branded clothing retailer that closed its doors in January, has opened a sibling store. It’s intended to attract even younger shoppers than the teens and twentysomethings who frequented Abercrombie & Fitch.

Hollister, at 721 State St., focuses on the “carefree spirit of the endless California summer for the teen market.”

It’s target demographic is the 15-to-19 age group.

“It fills a niche in downtown Santa Barbara for this customer who makes up approximately 22% of our demographic,” said Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, marketing manager for Paseo Nuevo mall. “We are encouraged that Abercrombie has made the decision to meet the needs of the market as retail is everchanging and retailers who are committed to evolving will continue to succeed.”

The store sells a variety of jeans, tops, dresses, sleepwear and jackets as well as three types of “skinny” jeans, including “exteme skinny,” “super skinny” and just plain “skinny.”

From the sale of each World Teen Mental Wellness Day Collection item, $10 will support the HollisterConfidence Fund’s grant-making efforts

Semi-Permanent Makeup

Santa Barbara native Kathy Rodriguez plans to open XO Aesthetics in Santa Barbara around April 1.

The shop at 3455 State St., Suite 6, will specialize in personal care services, such as eyebrow microblading, lip blushing, teeth whitening, and face and body treatments. Rodriguez decided during the COVID-19 pandemic that it was time to start her own business.

“I started realizing that I wanted to pursue something where I was going to be independent,” she said, “or do something where I would not have to work under somebody, and do something for myself.”

The company uses pigments to create semi-permanent makeup products that can last between 18 months and several years. The treatment is popular in Los Angeles.

Something’s Definitely Fishy

Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar at 502 State St. in Santa Barbara appears to have temporarily closed. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, formerly known as the popular “Something’s Fishy,” appears to have temporarily closed its doors.

The restaurant at 502 State St. was dark all week, with the doors closed and no one on the inside.

Calls and efforts to reach the restaurant through social media were unsuccessful.

Yelp states that the restaurant is temporarily closed until April 22, 2022.

Although most of the other restaurants on the 500 block of State Street seemed to have enjoyed the benefit of outdoor dining, the Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, known for its grilling in the middle of the restaurant for all to see, apparently has not fared as well.

CalCoast Glass Tinting Adds Team Member

Nathan Ponder has joined CalCoast Glass Tinting.

The company, 4141 State St., Suite C3, provides films for windows from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles.

Ponder will work as the director of sales.

He previously worked at Kinkos in 1992 as a color specialist before becoming operations manager. He left Kinkos in 2004 to be the chief operations officer at CyberCopy, a market leader in construction printing and graphics services for architects, engineers and contractors. He became vice president of sales and marketing in 2008.

CalCoast Glass Tinting Inc. is the Premier 3M Dealer and a leader in glass treatment films with its expertise, customer service and high-quality workmanship, according to a news release.

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina

Original story HERE

Makers and Wares Market celebrates International Women’s Day

Denise Zenteno, the maker behind Rain Frog Woodworking,  sells handcrafted wood tools during the International Women’s Day Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping center in downtown Santa Barbara on Sunday.

Makers and Wares Market hosted 59 women-led booths at Paseo Nuevo in celebration of International Women’s Day (which is today). The event, presented by Blissful Boutiques and Women’s Economic Ventures, was free for the entrepreneurs.

Lisa Green, president and CEO of the Makers and Wares Market, wanted to make the day free as a gift to vendors and shoppers.

“Everybody’s been suffering this whole year with COVID. And I figured, International Women’s Day — let’s do something to just get the community together and bring them out,” she told the News-Press.

She saw the holiday as a good way to honor women who might be struggling during the pandemic.

Paula Fell sits behind a mosaic portrait of David Bowie she was commissioned to make while selling her mosaic art at her booth.

“I think the women, in my opinion, were hit the hardest. Because they have to be mom; they have to be teachers; they have to get home with the kids, etc. So that was part of the other reason why it’s doing this and offering it free to the vendors,” she said.

Ms. Green, an entrepreneur herself, has presided over the market for nearly five years and just recently opened the market to include non-handmade items.

“A small business that wants to get up off their feet and they can’t afford to rent a brick-and-mortar storefront — we want to be able to give them a chance. We want to be able to take care of everybody,” she said.

The market, which is located beside State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, allows vendors from surrounding cities to participate. (Some local markets only allow Santa Barbara residents to join.)

Denise Zenteno of Rain Frog Woodworking heard about the market from friends in Santa Ynez Valley Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Some of the moms had small businesses and were planning to represent Santa Ynez Sunday.

Shoppers stroll through the market on a gloomy day as entrepreneurs of various disciplines show off their craft.

Sunday was Ms. Zenteno’s fourth time selling at a market, and first time in Santa Barbara.

She began woodworking six months ago when she saw a lathe among the tools her husband keeps in the garage.

She describes discovering woodworking as falling in love. Her father was an architect and used woodwork in his designs, so the trade resonated with her.

Her display of pens, cooking utensils and bowls look as though she’s been making them for years.

“As an engineer, I’ve always worked with my hands, so it wasn’t a hard transition,” she explained.

She was an engineer for seven years before immigrating to the U.S. and starting a family with her husband.

She has many hobbies and likes to try new projects (which is why she browsed the tools in the garage), but she had never sold her work.

Jen Grasmere sells jewelry at her booth, displayed among wood boxes and succulents.

Ms. Zenteno started woodworking to make Christmas gifts, and her friends and family insisted she sell some of her creations. She had a large inventory already and decided to give it a try while she stays home with her child.

Paula Fell, an artist in Ojai, started selling mosaics and fused glass pieces after she retired three years ago. She always desired to become an artist upon retirement.

She has sold her mosaics in art exhibitions and decided to try the market when her neighbor Jen Grasmere told her about it.

“I think [Ms. Green] is really trying to help women artists and women with the cottage industries,” Ms. Fell said. “I think that’s really important during COVID that they have a platform to be able to share their work.”

Ms. Grasmere, a silver and turquoise jewelry artist, was grateful the market was a free opportunity.

“I think women need to help each other and encourage each other. We need each other in this world,” she said.

Her jewelry became her profession five years ago, which was an intimidating transition. She previously gave everything away.

“As an artist, you have got to get over your shame,” she said. “Because you put your stuff out there and you have a shame attack like, ‘Oh, no one’s gonna like that.’ But then you make a sale and then you get used to putting your stuff out there.”

She still worries about hitting the perfect price to get more sales and pay for her handiwork. But she says her husband is a good support.

To shop Ms. Zenteno’s woodwork, send her an email:

Ms. Fell often makes commissioned pieces as well as sells her premade art at

Ms. Grasmere likes to update her Instagram with her latest pieces at

To support Ms. Green, check out her markets and events at


To read the original story, click [HERE]

Santa Barbara County Events, Markets Balance Holiday Cheer with COVID-19 Pandemic

Maker’s Market at Paseo Nuevo

Downtown outdoor shop features local artisans with handmade gifts

Shoppers walk through the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

The years-long Maker’s Market at Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants is still alive and well on State Street, and provides an outdoor, COVID-safe environment for residents to Christmas shop, all while supporting local businesses.

With more than a dozen vendors selling everything from homemade bags, clothing, paintings, books, jewelry, decorations, beauty products, soaps, desserts and, of course, handmade face masks, the market caters to all ages and all walks of life.

Jaci Mello Browdy sells various items from her “SweetMello” stand during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

“I come from at least three generations of seamstresses,” Mrs. Browdy told the News-Press. “I don’t have a marketing background; I don’t have a business background.

“You learn as you go. You have to be ever changing, and sometimes you’ve got to work from sunup to sundown,” she said. “I don’t have days off, but it’s what I love to do and it’s totally worth it.”

Her reusable goods include food bags, paper towels, napkins, travel bags, lanyards, cable holders and more, unique with brightly-colored patterns. Many of her items are also reversible.

When COVID-19 hit, she began making face masks, and said she sold thousands online from March 30 to the end of April.

While the pandemic halted the Maker’s Market for several weeks, Mrs. Browdy said business has still been good.

“I feel like because it’s outside, people are willing to go outside,” she said. “If we were an indoor market, it wouldn’t work.”

SweetMello products are all under $25, and the cheapest items start at $2. To view her stock of reusable goods, visit

Sean Duffy was previously an English teacher in Ventura, but now holds fundraisers and book fairs for “Duffy’s Book Biz.”

He and his wife are educational representatives with Usborne Books & More, and he curates children’s books that pique childrens’ interest and get them excited to read. The majority of the books are interactive, pop-up books that allow for hands-on, tactile learning.

Sean Duffy sells educational and children’s books from his stand “Duffy’s Book Biz” during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

Mr. Duffy said he came up with the idea when he noticed the education system focusing too much on test grades than the learning process.

Sean Duffy sells pop-up, interactive children’s books from his stand, “Duffy’s Book Biz” during the Maker’s Market.
“At one point, I thought, ‘This is too much for me,’” he told the News-Press. “There’s a lot of politics, and unfortunately, I think the kids suffer because of that.

“We’re doing these kids a disservice — they’re not robots, they’re actually human beings. It’s supposed to be fun.”

From activity books to internet-linked science to history encyclopedias, Mr. Duffy hopes his books excite kids and make learning fun.

“It doesn’t seem like you’re just drilling learning into them,” he said. “They read and do something. The more you can do that, the more you get their interest and the more they want to be there.”

To learn more about his business or to shop his curated collection, visit
Kennedy Bretz is a UCSB student, and Saturday marked her third time tabling at the Maker’s Market. Her brand, Art from the Heart, is a collection of various paintings, pieces of clothing with artsy additions and handmade soaps and candles.

“They’re made sustainably, so they use ingredients that are natural for the environment and they’re made mindfully for the environment as well,” Ms. Bretz told the News-Press. “I incorporate my paintings into the business too because I love to paint.”

She donates 10% of purchases to a different charity every month, decided by a vote on the brand’s Instagram page: @kb.artfromtheheart.

While she doesn’t know what it’s like selling without a pandemic going on, she said business has still been good.

“It’s a little easier for me because I’m lucky selling soaps, so people don’t mind touching them because they know they’re clean,” Ms. Bretz said. “A lot of people still want to come out so there’s still a decent amount of foot traffic going on on State Street.”

Taki Gold sells perfume, jackets, and other goods from his stand during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press

Taki Gold sells perfume, jackets and other goods from his stand during the Maker’s Market.
Her art pieces and sustainable soaps and candles can be found on her Etsy Shop page: kbartfromtheheart.

Taki Gold and his brand, World of Taki Gold, were also tabling on Saturday for the second weekend in a row.

Mr. Gold grew up in the violent Liberian Civil War, and witnessed many tragedies between 1989 and 1994. His goal now with World of Taki Gold is to represent an artistic way of expressing the transformation of personal wars into art, fashion and music.

His slogan is “Make war beautiful.”

“I was 6 years old and in a civil war in Liberia, and the women that were in my group explained war to me through art because I was so young, so everything was music, everything was dance, everything was art,” he told the News-Press.

Mr. Gold purchased uniforms from veterans and redesigned them, to “transform the energy of what we’ve been through.” In addition, he’s a musician who just came out with an album called “Girl God,” and he sells his own brand of fragrance, inspired by his first wave surfed at Mesa Beach.

“I just wanted a scent that makes me feel like the ocean,” he said.

Proceeds go to both Mr. Gold and his foundation called Seed, which is a women-led agro-tech crop farm in Liberia to help empower women to revive the land that was damaged by war.

He said COVID-19 hasn’t affected his brand all that much because it’s mostly online.

“When you’re genuinely presenting healthy energy to people, I don’t hold back,” he said. “I’m generally creating a shift of new energy, something that’s healthy, that smells good, that feels good, that’s helping others.”

To learn more about Mr. Gold’s products, visit

The Maker’s Market, presented by Blissful Boutiques, is open at Paseo Nuevo at State and De la Guerra streets every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. Tuesday’s market is open from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday’s is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday’s is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Love Letters by Cassandra C. Jones

In partnership with MCASB and Ojai Artist Cassandra C. Jones

Paseo Nuevo, in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, commissioned Cassandra C. Jones to create Love Letters, a tile mural inspired by Santa Barbara’s heritage, architecture, and surroundings which are known to draw from Spanish and Mexican influences. The mural is part of Paseo Nuevo’s continued commitment to community art programming as well as to engaging visitors with new and reimagined experiences. Love Letters is a 600-tile mural that spans two walls in Paseo Nuevo’s lower north court entrance.

The entire mural is a kaleidoscope of collaged photographs printed on white ceramic tile, with 36 unique compositions repeated throughout. Upon closer investigation, each tile is its own vibrant work of art with a series of separate, smaller images collaged together to create a larger pattern: Spanish guitars form quatrefoil shapes, the fans of flamenco dancers become ocean waves, surfboards make up visions of sun, agave, and pinatas. All imagery cleverly reflects Santa Barbara’s heritage and culture, providing a visual narrative that is truly a love letter to the community. Jones, an Ojai-based artist, shares that the mural “explores and embraces the nuances and poetics of such imagery. Like stringing words together to compose a love letter, I weave and layer potent objects in such a way to express affection for the Central California Coast, and this place that I call home.”

This project was always intended to be a love letter to Santa Barbara. By activating public spaces, art plays a vital role in deepening the engagement with our local community. As MCASB Curator, Alexandra Terry, shares, “By initiating a dialogue about the human experience, public art has the opportunity to enhance our physical environments and inspire critical thinking. Paseo Nuevo is at the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and thus provides the ideal backdrop for a project such as Love Letters that will encourage passersby to contemplate more deeply the environment they inhabit.”

Paseo Nuevo’s owners, Pacific Retail Capital Partners, have a dedicated mission to advancing accessible, public art programming throughout its portfolio. In doing so, they prioritize installations in creative and open spaces, and commission works like Love Letters. Love Letters is one of many art initiatives planned during Paseo Nuevo’s current, privately funded, $20 million redevelopment project, to be completed Summer 2020.

Paseo Nuevo has planned ways for the community to engage with Love Letters, while maintaining safe social distancing, through a Love Letter to Santa Barbara contest, installation videos, and interactive experiences, all driven through social media. Senior Marketing Director, Mary Lynn Harms-Romo expands on this engagement, “Now, more than ever, we want our community to feel connected. As part of the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Paseo Nuevo has always been a natural place to gather. While we cannot currently gather in the ways we are used to, we can still form connections and share experiences.”

Visit Paseo Nuevo’s Instagram and Facebook platforms to find out how to experience Love Letters.

BizHawk: Paseo Nuevo Bustling with New Stores The Barn and Trendy Collections

Trendy Collections at Paseo NuevoClick to view larger Trendy Collections, which opened in January at the Paseo Nuevo mall in Santa Barbara, showcases local makers and small businesses.

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina | February 20, 2020 | 9:45 p.m.
Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall is bustling with new businesses.
The Barn opened at 101 Paseo Nuevo next to Nordstrom.
“We are excited The Barn calls Paseo Nuevo home in downtown Santa Barbara,” said Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, senior marketing manager for Paseo Nuevo. “We recognized there was a lack of quality men’s clothing downtown, and we knew The Barn could fill that need for our shoppers with their niche of style and selection of labels that so perfectly reflect the Santa Barbara lifestyle.”
The Barn has stores in South Lake Tahoe and Santa Ynez, along with a robust online presence. The shop specializes in clothes for every occasion, from casual to more formal. It also sells outdoor gear, including knives and accessories.
“The Barn offers shoppers a blend of luxe and casual apparel from primarily L.A.-based lifestyle brands,” Harms-Romo told Noozhawk.
The store, which opened in Paseo Nuevo in January, also offers quality women’s clothing from brands such as Alo Yoga, James Perse and One Grey Day.
At the other end of the mall, 505 Paseo Nuevo, is a new store that focuses on the pop-up shop craze.
The Barn at Paseo Nuevo
The Barn at Paseo Nuevo offers men’s and women’s clothing, and a selection of outdoor gear. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Trendy Collections also opened in January. The store is a collective of local makers and small businesses, such as Lil’ Stompers Shoes and Mely’s Fashion.
Harms-Romo said other small local businesses will be featured on a rotating basis.
“Trendy Collections is a great example of the next evolution of the ‘pop-up shop’ where shoppers can find multiple brands popping up in a brick and mortar location, but the brands may rotate,” Harms-Romo said.
The idea is to give small-business owners or local craft makers, who could not normally be able to fill a small store with enough product, the opportunity to open a shop to a large audience.
“For the shopper, you can always find a new selection or discover a new brand,” Harms-Romo said. “For the small-business owner, they are exposed to new customers through their collective partners. At Paseo Nuevo, it’s a great opportunity to showcase our local small businesses and offer our shoppers a unique selection every time they visit.”
More shops that focus on experiences are on the way. WH Body Refinery is scheduled to open in April at 705 Paseo Nuevo, and Orangetheory Fitness is scheduled to open this spring at 629 Paseo Nuevo.
See Original Story HERE

10 Best Holiday Attractions in Santa Barbara this Winter

Heading to Santa Barbara for the holidays? Lucky you! This coastal California beach town gets extra festive during the winter season with parades, live performances and much, much more.

If you’re looking for lights, you can book a ride on the Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights to scope out the best houses around town. Or you can plan a DIY tour and drive yourself. Don’t miss The Miracle on East Quinientos Street. This private residence is so bright that you might want to bring sunglasses!

Are you a theater fan? You can catch the Nutcracker Ballet at either the Granada Theatre or the Arlington Theatre. Both of these historic venues are stunning, and there are dozens of mouthwatering restaurants nearby. Rather go shopping? Check out the dozens of pop-up markets featuring local makers that appear on the weekends.

For family fun, look no further than the ice rink in GoletaIce in Paradise is an indoor rink with a casual restaurant onsite. It’s a good place to take a lesson, catch a hockey game or even see a holiday ice show.

This list of the 10 best holiday attractions in Santa Barbara can help you get any Scrooge in the Christmas spirit. So get out those jingle bells and get going!


Casa del Herrero

Architecture enthusiasts should visit the Casa when it’s all dressed up for the festive season. Visitors are invited to enjoy a cup of hot spiced cider as they tour the gardens and have a glimpse of how a Montecito Christmas in the 1930’s might have looked. Painstakingly conceived, built and furnished, the estate was designed by George Washington Smith. It is a stunning Moorish and Mediterranean unification of art, gardens and space. Boasting European treasures, intricate tilework and one-of-a-kind metalwork, Casa del Herrero (“house of the blacksmith”) pays tribute to its owners’ machinery industry. A small number of December dates are allotted for visitors wishing to see the home decked out in its holiday splendor. Reservations must be made in advance.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Visit this historic home for a glimpse of how a Montecito Christmas in the 1930’s might have looked.

Geneva’s expert tip: This is a great holiday destination for visitors interested in interior or landscape design. Reservations recommended, especially during December.

Read more about Casa del Herrero →



La Arcada

Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

Don’t miss the annual La Arcada Christmas Walk! Enjoy strolling carolers, freshly popped popcorn and a visit from Santa at this quaint, character-filled shopping venue that’s as good for relaxing as it is for shopping. Marked by a multi-faced, chiming clock, the entrance leads to a variety of shops, restaurants and art galleries. If the folks accompanying you don’t want to browse the shops, they can admire La Arcada’s landscaping, fountains and many statues. Plus there are plenty of benches where you (and they) can catch your breath before moving on. And did we mention the turtle pond? Yes, there’s a turtle pond. Located in the heart of downtown, this is one Christmas shopping destination you don’t want to miss.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This fun night of caroling and snacks is a Santa Barbara tradition. Plan to do a little Christmas shopping while you’re enjoying the festivities.

Geneva’s expert tip: The date of the La Arcada Christmas Walk changes every year, so be sure to look it up before you go. It is currently scheduled for December 4, 2019.

Read more about La Arcada →


Nothing says Santa Barbara like, surf, sun and… ice skating?!? Yep, after years of waiting, Santa Barbara has it’s very own ice rink for sport and leisure. And wouldn’t you know it — they put on an awesome holiday ice skating show every December. Head out to Goleta with the whole family for a little winter fun. It’s also a great place to learn to skate or catch a hockey game. There is a restaurant onsite, so you don’t have to worry if your time on the ice causes you to work up a powerful thirst or ravenous appetite. Lots of free parking right out front. Follow their Facebook page to stay in the know about upcoming events.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Ice skating is a holiday tradition isn’t it? Santa Barbara isn’t much for snow, but we do have our own indoor ice rink!

Geneva’s expert tip: Visit their website to check out the schedule for upcoming hockey games and ice skating shows.

Read more about Ice in Paradise →


Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Paseo Nuevo

If you want to say hello to Santa and catch a nightly flurry of snowflakes, Paseo Nuevo is your destination this season. Santa’s taken up residence in a charming cottage right in the heart of this outdoor shopping mall. Want your picture taken but hate lines? Visit their website to schedule an appointment. There’s also a giant Christmas tree, weekly live acts and nightly snowfall at 6 and 7 p.m. (Spoiler alert: it’s very magical, but it’s not actual snow.) While you’re there, satisfy your gift-giving needs for the whole family. You can find shoes for Mom, gadgets for Dad, toys for the kids and pick up a little something for yourself while you’re at it.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: For holiday retail therapy, nothing tops the festive atmosphere of Paseo Nuevo. There’s even a nightly “snowfall” at 6 and 7 p.m.

Geneva’s expert tip: Don’t miss the family friendly silent disco party on Dec. 5, 2019, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Headphones will be provided, and ugly sweaters are encouraged.

Read more about Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants →


Catch the Nutcracker Ballet at the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara’s most splendid and impressive performing arts venue, boasting over 1,500 seats, multiple patron lounges and a custom orchestra shell. Originally built in 1924, the theater underwent a dramatic restoration and re-opened in 2008. A vibrant mural decorates the proscenium arch, seats have been refreshed with improved sightlines, and the original chandelier is sparkling once again in its place of honor. Nationally recognized ballet troupes perform here regularly, as well as famous comedians, legendary musicians and inspiring lecturers. Visit their website for a list of upcoming shows and holiday events. Located near many of Santa Barbara’s best restaurants, so plan on dinner and a show!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This holiday family favorite performed by the State Street Ballet is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and staged against opulent sets.

Geneva’s expert tip: Pop into the cozy cocktail bar right next door for a festive cocktail before or after the show.



Enjoy a festive day in this charming wine community just north of Santa Barbara. A short drive brings you to a busy main street lined with shops, wine tasting rooms and restaurants. Los Olivos celebrates on Olde Fashioned Christmas every year, often on the first Saturday of December. This year, it falls on December 7, 2019. Enjoy an artisan boutique and open houses as well as crafts and train rides for the kids. Holiday treats and carolers make the afternoon extra cheery and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Santa is the special guest. The event is capped off by the official tree lighting by the flagpole at the center of town with live music in the park nearby.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This event makes for a fun day trip for the whole family, with shopping, treats and activities for the kiddos.

Geneva’s expert tip: Go early to find parking or you might have to walk a couple of blocks.

Read more about Los Olivos Olde Fashioned Christmas →



Explore the best Christmas light displays in Santa Barbara during this jolly, open-aired trolley tour. A caravan of lighted trolleys take groups around town after dark for a 90-minute ride. Hot cider is sipped, carols are sung, neighbors come out and say hello… it’s all very magical. The open sides of the trolleys allow you to easily capture your favorite moments on camera. The one drawback is that this tour always sells out — usually in October. So book early if you think you even kind of, might possibly want to go. Santa Barbara Trolley cars also operate during the days for classic town tours and can be chartered for private parties, weddings and wine tasting tours.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This open-aired trolley tour (complete with hot cider) is the best way to see local Christmas light displays.

Geneva’s expert tip: Book early! This 90-minute tour takes you to see the best Christmas light displays, but it sells out quickly every year.

Read more about Santa Barbara Trolley →



For the best Christmas lights in Santa Barbara, look no further than this house on the East Side. Local man Peter Estrada layers on the twinkles at this private residence that draws a crowd from far and wide. We feel sorry for the other homes in the neighborhood; even if they put forth a solid effort, it’s pretty much impossible to compete with this fantasy display that you may be able to see from space (slight exaggeration). There are lots of tasty Mexican restaurants in the area, so plan on a dinner outing and consider bringing some cash for La Super-Rica, a legendary local taqueria.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This private home has the biggest and best display of lights in Santa Barbara.

Geneva’s expert tip: Go around dinner time and bring cash so you can visit the legendary La Super-Rica after you get your fill of lights.

Read more about The Miracle on East Quinientos Street →


What could be more magical than a twinkling, sparkling holiday parade just a few blocks from the beach? Head to downtown Santa Barbara during the week after Thanksgiving to catch this festive parade on Friday night. Beautifully lit floats and graceful dancers stroll the blocks after dark in the only evening street parade of the year. For more than 65 years, this parade has welcomed the Christmas season in Santa Barbara. As the floats glide toward the downtown Christmas tree, Santa Claus himself brings up the rear. Get ready to cheer on a colossal contingent of high-stepping marching bands, fabulous holiday floats, spectacular performance groups and local personalities.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Don’t miss this Christmas parade! It’s the perfect amount of Friday evening fun for the whole family.

Geneva’s expert tip: Plan ahead and make dinner reservations at a State Street restaurant with a patio for the best view of the parade.

Read more about Holiday Parade →



What’s better than a parade? A boat parade! And what’s better than a boat parade? A boat parade with lights and fireworks! The annual Santa Barbara Parade of Lights happens December 8, 2019. It boasts all of this and more. Join the locals for this Santa Barbara holiday tradition along the coastline. The boat parade is preceded by Santa’s Village activity on the City Pier in the Harbor, starting around 3 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the annual boat parade begins as dozens of boats motor, sail and paddle along the Santa Barbara coastline and compete to win prizes. Admission is free. There are plenty of great restaurants and bars on both the pier and the harbor where you can relax and enjoy the view.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: How many places have a Christmas boat parade? It’s so lovely seeing all the festive lights reflected in the water.

Geneva’s expert tip: Bring a blanket, pack a picnic and hit the beach for a romantic date night that doesn’t cost a fortune.

See full story HERE

One day in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is perfectly burrowed between the sea and the mountains and has something to offer any visitor. A day trip to the city gives you beaches, coastal escapes and areas of mountainous wilderness. When I think of Santa Barbara, I think of beautiful weather, excellent ocean views, stunning architecture and great local food and that’s what I got during my visit.

Things to Do

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78-acre attraction that visitors need to see. The garden is dedicated to the conservation of California’s native plants. Throughout the garden are playhouses designed with nature in mind, so it’s a perfect place for kids and family to explore. The playhouses are constructed with plant-based materials to encourage everyone to play in nature while sharing the importance of plants.

All throughout this botanical garden are trails that lead to different landscapes that replicate California’s various environments, like the desert, which features cactuses, yuccas and agaves; the redwoods, which feature towering trees; and more.

Admission is $14 and children ages 2 and under are free.

While adventuring in Santa Barbara, another must-see destination is the Paseo Nuevo shopping center located in the heart of the downtown area. Not only does the shopping mall provide over 50 shops, but walking through Paseo Nuevo gives you an essence of the Santa Barbara lifestyle.

Just a few streets down, you can find Old Mission Santa Barbara, where two bell towers and a lush garden make this old building stand out. The San Ynez mountains also stand in the background, which make Santa Barbara a scenic landmark. When you walk through this old building, you can see history come to life as you explore the grounds and on-site museum. While admiring its architecture, visitors can explore the garden and look out on the expansive view of the city itself.

Things to eat

I’ve always wanted to have a meal beachside, so I went to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, located on Arroyo Burro Beach County Park. It’s arguably the most beautiful restaurant setting in Santa Barbara. There’s an outside patio and inside dining with wide windows for a beachside feel.

Because I was near the coast, I wanted to see how fresh the seafood was and I was not disappointed. The shrimp tacos had to be one of the best meals I’ve had. This colorful dish was well-seasoned and gave a small kick of spice. The dish was plated with two butterflied shrimp tacos topped with purple cabbage, pickled shallots and cilantro with a side of Spanish rice mixed with black beans and corn and guacamole and chips. For an average dish, it was an extraordinary taste.

I also recommend ordering the lobster and truffle mac ’n’ cheese. The dish was made up of cavatappi pasta, lobster, black truffle, gruyere cheese, leeks and bread crumbs sprinkled on top. Obviously, the lobster was the best part of the dish, but I couldn’t get over how light, creamy and rich all the flavors were paired with one another.

While the waitlist may be long at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, it’s worth the wait to sit beachside. 

Original Story HERE

Santa comes to town today, with (fake) snow also returning to Paseo Nuevo

Only days removed from the sounds of sirens rushing to the scene of the Cave Fire, locals and tourists alike will welcome the sounds of something more festive starting tonight.

The sleigh bells will officially return to Paseo Nuevo, as Santa will finally open his doors to children and adults alike, looking to grant every wish this holiday season.

And he won’t have to use any temporary walkways or avoid loose bricks, as the shopping center has halted its renovation and put the place back together—just in time for the holiday shopping season.

“All according to plan,” said Paseo Nuevo’s Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, the center’s senior marketing director. “We’ve been looking forward to having Santa back, and had to get the place in shape for his return.”

Santa will hold hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Dec. 13, with Sundays running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

From Dec. 14 – Dec. 23, the big guy will be available daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to make sure all kids can get those last-second requests in.

On Christmas Eve, Santa has to get on the road a bit earlier, closing up his annual appearance with a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift.

“Every kid receives a gift from Santa, it’s a great tradition here,” Ms. Harms-Romo said.

And while Santa Barbara County received a good dose of the real stuff—with potential for more this morning—the shopping center is bringing back its popular night snowfall shows, “Let It Snow,” starting at 6 p.m. nightly. They’ll run every night through New Year’s Eve, excluding Christmas Day.

The holiday festivities are only an interlude for the renovation project at Paseo Nuevo, as the center had decided early on that it wanted to give all of its shops the best opportunity for sales this holiday season.

Ms. Harms-Romo explained that the shopping center will remain mostly construction-free, with only touch-up work being done through the end of the year. “It was always our goal to have this done for the holidays,” Ms. Harms-Romo said. “A few things were offtrack, so we are just going to take a break, going to stop and have a great holiday season.”

Beginning in January, the renovation will reconvene, with hopes of a grand reopening in May. The project has been fairly smooth, with only a pair of obstacles to date, including finding a second, smaller sinkhole near Nordstrom. It has now been repaired.

There will be minor work being done in December, mostly cosmetic and not likely to interrupt foot traffic. “It’ll mostly be holes that we have in walls, landscaping and some speakers,” Ms. Harms-Romo said.

Paseo Nuevo is without its seasonal Night Market this year after issues over a potential ice rink in the Ortega Building caused Glen Broomberg, the owner of the market, to decide to cease operations ahead of the holiday season.

A handful of the businesses that partook in the market last year have found different areas of Paseo Nuevo to utilize instead.

“It’s great to be able to accommodate them,” Ms. Harms-Romo said. The Ortega Building—which housed Macy’s in recent years—is a topic of discussion for the shopping center, with the focus squarely on having multiple tenants move into the building at some point in 2020.

The shopping center has been meeting with various city groups to discuss what they’d like to do with the building, with Ms. Harms-Romo indicating that it would likely house restaurants, entertainment and retailers alike.

“The plan is to repurpose the building with more than one tenant,” Ms. Harms-Romo said. But, for now, the shopping center will embrace its biggest tenant — Santa.

— Nick Masuda for Santa Barbara News-Press.