Hi, friends! I’m coming at you today with a trip recap from Dave and my babymoon in Santa Barbara last week. We had an amazing time, and it was JUST what we needed.
Babymoon in Santa Barbara
As I mentioned in this post, Dave and I had originally planned to head to Hawaii or possibly even Mexico for a big babymoon this summer (and by the way, a “babymoon” is a trip you take with your significant other as a couple to spend time together before your baby arrives, and it’s a great excuse to vacation). But after the NBA season went long (Go Warriors!), and a few other logistical things got in the way (which I will discuss soon), we ended up planning our getaway with only about one month’s notice and didn’t want to wait until I got too far along, so we knew that driving somewhere in California was the right thing to do in the month of July. (And I was 27 weeks pregnant during the trip.)
Neither Dave, nor I, had ever been to the Santa Barbara area in Southern California before, and it came highly recommended to us by our friends. In fact, it seemed to be the perfect place to complete this simple agenda for the trip:
- Lay by the pool and read our respective baby books (yes, Dave has one for new dads)
- Eat lots of delicious food at restaurants for every meal and not have to clean a kitchen
- Get some sun in slightly less hot weather than we have here in the Bay Area
- Soak up some sea air and put our feet in the ocean
- Relax and disconnect
- Veer off of our daily routine and feel an “escape” from the normal
And I can wholeheartedly say that we did all of those things and more. So let’s do a quick play-by-play …
Visit to Firestone Brewery and Hearst Castle
On the way down to Santa Barbara, Dave and I made two planned stops. The first was at Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles. Dave knew someone who works for the brand and offered to host us for lunch and a tour, and so that’s what we did. It was the perfect half-way point on our drive, and Dave LOVED sampling the special brews on the tour, during which we had to wear safety goggles.
Fun fact: Breweries smell amazing. I loved the smell! In fact, we came away with a candle from the gift shop, reminiscent of the scent inside the place, which we have been lighting at home every day since returning.
From there, we drove another 45 minutes to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. I first learned about this huge historical property a few years ago and always wanted to visit (I love this kind of thing and have very fond memories of checking out the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina with my Mom many years ago). The kind people at the park service in charge of Hearst, offered us some complimentary media tickets for the Grand Room Tour, so we arrived to the visitor’s center just in time to hop on the bus, which takes you up the winding mountain roads to the castle.
I loved hearing about the history of the Hearst Castle (once owned by the famous newspaper magnate, of course, and now part of California State Parks), because I enjoy thinking back on the time when people really inhabited the space in all of its opulence. A good chunk of the tour took place outside on the grounds of the property with ornate statues, marble and gardens, before moving through some of the larger social spaces in the castle, where William Randolph Hearst hosted guests and parties all the time. Sadly, the huge Neptune Pool, which is a major draw of the property, was drained and being serviced, so that was a bit of a downer for views and pictures. But apparently it will be back up and running again soon.
While I was so excited to experience this tour, I must say that the heat in San Simeon on the top of the mountain was not friendly or welcoming to a pregnant gal. It was probably almost 100 degrees, with zero breeze, and I was NOT enjoying it. Armed with water and cotton clothing, it was just not pleasant, as Dave and I were both sweating and trying to hear our tour guide speak over the group of chatty tourists, especially when we moved inside the castle, where the heat was nearly the same as outside. I couldn’t do it!
That’s why, sadly, we left the tour a little bit early, hopped back on the bus and sought comfort in the cool A/C of our car. It wasn’t all a loss though — I appreciated the grandeur of the castle from what we saw during the first 45 minutes of the 60 minute tour and would love to visit again in the winter, when the weather isn’t so tough.
Arriving at Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta
Our next stop was the main event, as we pulled up to the incredibly beautiful Bacara Resort & Spa, which is actually located in the town of Goleta, just outside Santa Barbara proper. It was at this resort, where Dave and I spent the next five days and four nights, only leaving a couple of times to explore greater Santa Barbara.
When a few of our friends said that Bacara Resort was the nicest place to stay in the area, I immediately researched it and knew it was perfect for us. And not to mention, the kind folks at Bacara gave us a media rate (which was a tiny discount off our overall room charge).
We had a partial ocean-view suite with a patio, which was decked out in Spanish decor, a gas fireplace and a tile floor. And we spent a lot more time in the room than we normally do on trips, just hanging out on the patio soaking up the sea air and taking naps every single afternoon. YAY naps!
What we did on our babymoon each day
Here’s a rundown of our activities each day:
- Day 1: Check into hotel, beach walk and late dinner at the lobby bar
- Day 2: Quick trip to the hotel gym, venture to downtown Goleta for breakfast, pool time, lunch at the resort’s Bistro, beach walk, nap and dinner and ice cream in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street
- Day 3: Breakfast at the hotel, massages at the hotel spa, venture to the little town of Solvang for Danish food and touring, beach walk, a short game of ping pong, nap and late dinner at the lobby bar
- Day 4: Quick trip to the hotel gym, breakfast at the hotel, pool time, lunch at the resort, beach walk, nap and super fancy dinner at the resort’s signature restaurant, Angel Oak
- Day 5: Breakfast at the hotel and road-tripping back to the Bay Area
I mean, perfection, right?
Things that I loved about a babymoon in Santa Barbara and the Bacara
The weather was amazing!
It was NEVER too hot. The mornings started out a little bit grey, but then the sun would come out and the temperatures would stay in the 70s with an ocean breeze. The sun would go down after 8 p.m., and then it would drop into the 60s. There was NO rain, NO bugs and not too much humidity either. I LOVED that, especially because it has been so hot in the Bay Area where we live, and I wanted some cooler temperatures for a bit.
The food was SO good at the Bacara!
Believe it or not, people who live in the San Francisco area are known to be food snobs, because our food is so darn good. And because of that, Dave and I are often not all that impressed with restaurant food when we travel, particularly at hotels. However, nearly every single thing we ate at Bacara Resort was delicious. We had a couple of off-property meals that weren’t amazing (but they were way cheaper at least), but Bacara delivered in the food department. From our first bite at the lobby bar to our last bite of dessert at the super fancy Angel Oak — everything was just mouthwatering. We ate a lot of flatbread, fish tacos, salad, dessert and of course, french fries (a staple pool-side resort lunch addition, if you know what I mean). Yum!
Adult pools are clutch!
Knowing that this may be the last time we can make this decision, Dave and I loved going to a resort with an adults-only area, which was super peaceful and quiet. Bacara had two pool areas, and we stuck to the spa pool, which was just for quiet time and for adults. Having been to adults-only resorts and resorts completely exploding with loud kids, we sought this respite for our daytime relaxing. There was no splashing, no cell phones, no loud music and most importantly, no kids, while we chilled on our pool chairs. 🙂
Things that I loved about taking a babymoon
I must be honest: The thought of going to a fancy beach resort in a well-known wine region in Southern California while very pregnant was not the most enticing idea for me. But even though I had to steer clear of raw fish, soft cheeses and wine and spirits and even the chilled welcome bottle of champagne in our room, I still had an amazing time and didn’t feel all that restricted, and yes, I sported my two-piece bikini with belly pride. In fact, I just felt … well … relaxed.
Dave and I spent a LOT of our trip chatting about how our life currently is and what it we think it will be like in a couple of months. We soaked up each other’s company as a two-some, because we know that everything will change soon. During those conversations, we recounted how we are so lucky to have enjoyed more than five beautiful years of being married before having a baby and someone else to take care of, so we’ve got such a good foundation of knowing each other, which has gotten even stronger during a cross-country move and our struggle with fertility over the course of a couple years. And this trip was a little reminder that we’ve got it good. I sure do love him, and I can’t wait to see him as a father to a little human (he is already a great father to Rudy, of course). And we know we are totally ready (or as ready as anyone can be) to welcome this next chapter of our life.
We came back from the babymoon relaxed, tan and totally full — in many ways. And that’s why I would say, if you have the time or the ability to do even a small getaway or staycation with your partner before welcoming your baby, I highly recommend it. It’s good for the soul, and is a great way to have an escape before the last couple months of prepping for the baby take place.
We’re back in the swing of things now and have resumed our respective routines, feeling so happy that we had this time away together.Good food, beautiful views and fun times from a #SantaBarbara babymoon by @apstyle ... Click To Tweet
Disclaimer: Thank you to the folks at Firestone and Hearst for the complimentary experiences. And thank you to Bacara Resort & Spa for extending a media rate for our stay. We paid a slightly discounted room rate, but covered our own food, massages and everything else, and it was worth every penny!
Questions of the day
What was the last trip you took and where did you go?
What’s your favorite way to unwind?