FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Air Canada

Escape to Santa Barbara for Romance

by Rina Nehdar

Sep 3, 2018

© Rina Nehdar

North America

Sometimes, when family life becomes super loud, romance has a way of shoving its fingers in its ears and hiding in a dark corner. Parents can coax it back out with a weekend getaway to a whimsical, coastal town like Santa Barbara. Here are some fun suggestions to make your trip unforgettable.

 

Go Bike Riding

Some hotels offer bikes to borrow. Instead of bikes, our hotel had an ocean-view balcony we’d never trade across from East Beach. The Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara had everything you’d need for any luxury business or family stay. Besides, Wheel Fun Rentals had a convenient booth by the hotel parking lot and offered a variety of pedal power options, including surreys. They can also deliver. You really get a feel of a town riding in its warm, ocean air. They offer a self-guided bike tour to get familiar with the city where you will try and invite romance to accompany you.

 

Lunch

© Rina Nehdar

The self-guided tour takes you past Stearns Wharf, the West Coast’s oldest operating wharf, used in the Prohibition 1930s to anchor floating casinos. We stopped at the corner right before the wharf for a late lunch at the newly opened Bluewater Grill. There, romance finally looked up as we shared a platter of oysters in its half-shell and ponzu sashimi sea scallops. This may have been the culinary highlight of our trip.

 

Urban Wine Trail

Feeling a glow after our savory snacks, we walked right onto the wharf to begin the world-famous Urban Wine Trail at Deep Sea. Santa Barbara has more than 200 wineries and more than 170 tasting rooms.

 

While they’re not all on the “trail,” you can learn a lot from the tasting room servers. Many will share the history of the wines and tell you about the area in which the grapes are grown. It’s a chance to see the wizard behind the curtain only without the disappointment. With its 360-degree ocean views, Deep Sea had the most gorgeous location of any wine bar we visited. The Urban Wine Trail is divided into sections based on where in the city the tasting room is located. Summerland was a bit far for us and Midtown also sounds like a future trip, but we did visit the Presidio, located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and with some of the highest-end wineries. We enjoyed Au Bon Climate and the wine and chocolate truffle pairings at Cebada with Jessica Foster Confections.

 

The super hip Funk Zone was once  “… a skid row, before the city built the underpass,” our taxi driver, Mickey told us. Today, it’s a draw for millennials and Gen Xers and stays open later than the rest of the trail rooms, though the last call is still at 9 p.m., so plan accordingly.

 

Museums

If you finish your Urban Wine Trail tour in the downtown outdoor plaza that hosts its La Arcada section, you can visit one of our favorites, Sanford Wines and stop by the close-by Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where we got to pose with a Monet. Besides creating customized wine tours, the Santa Barbara Trolley Company also offers a hop-on, hop-off tour that’ll take you by many of the same spots as the self-guided bike tour and includes the Museum of Art as well as the Maritime Museum, Museum of Natural History and the Old Mission. By this point, romance should be batting its eyelashes behind its program book.

 

© Rina Nehdar

A Beachy Breakfast

You can start your day with killer Bloody Marys and an ocean view that runs along the entire front of the Boathouse in Hendry’s Beach. There is usually a wait for tables but the hightops are first-come, first served, so we got one within minutes. They bring together fresh seafood with familiar breakfast items for an exquisite combination. After, we walked along the family-friendly beach framed by short cliffs and a gentle ocean. Dogs ran in and out of the surf and the squeal of happy children made us miss ours.

 

SALT

We decided a cleansing visit to SALT, the largest Himalayan salt cave in North America, was a good end to our weekend. For 45 minutes, we lay in a dim, salt-filled cave, breathing in the healing minerals and drifting in and out of sleep. It made me wish we could spend the night. Unique souvenirs are available in the gift shop for whomever is watching the kids.

 

There were things we didn’t do, which we must for our next trip if romance hides again, like the carriage ride at Happy Canyon that takes you through their vineyard and finishes with tastings and a charcuterie platter. The wonderful Sanford Winery has an ATV tour with wine pairings and Presqu’ile, just named Best Place to Go on a First Date by the Santa Maria Sun, has a coastline tour that sounds heavenly.

 

After a stop at the Sunday craft fair, we had our final lunch on the patio at Belmond El Encanto. With open ocean views, bobbing white sailboats on a wide, blue ocean, the scene sprang from the Mediterranean. We discovered, on the way home, romance holding our hand up front.

#WhereverFamily

Insta Feed
Destinations / Mexico
Feb 15, 2021

Mexico’s First Nickelodeon Resort to Open Summer 2021

Your kiddos will be excited to learn they can travel with their favorite Nickelodeon characters — including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and PAW Patrol — when Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya opens in June 2021. Families can now book accommodations at the resort for their summer vacation.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card Launches BoldFamilyTravel.Chase.com

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card recently launched BoldFamilyTravel.Chase.com, an interactive, online resource allowing families to plan future travel together. The launch followed the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card Survey of parents and grandparents that revealed most parents believe children are important resources for planning family vacations and that one-third of parents don’t currently involve their children in planning but would like to.

Travel Tips
Feb 9, 2021

The Dandelion Pub: Cozy Family Dining in Philadelphia

With indoor dining finally (mostly) reopened in Philadelphia, my mom, sister and I were able to enjoy a day roaming around the city, eager for a warm place to enjoy a late lunch after a cold day out and about. For anyone who recently enjoyed the creativity and ingenuity of the city’s outdoor winter dining, an indoor space with heat, cozy furniture and rich wood walls is a much-appreciated semblance of normalcy.

Travel Tips
Feb 8, 2021

5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Stowe Getaway

For those who want an unforgettable, relaxing family vacation to Stowe, Vermont, Topnotch Resort offers five insider tips for planning the perfect, stress-free getaway:

Travel Tips
Feb 2, 2021

New Experiences Coming to Walt Disney World

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. To honor the anniversary, Disney parks are rolling out new attractions, experiences and more!

Age Specific / Adult Children
Jan 28, 2021

Super Nintendo Mario World Comes to Universal Japan

Theme parks are a great way to escape reality as most offer different worlds in each section. Guests can explore different worlds, from their favorite TV show and movie franchises to much-loved video games. Mario and friends have been beloved video-game favorites for decades, and they finally get their own section of Universal Studios Japan.