Santa Barbara constitutes the perfect cocktail of upscale, artsy Southern California-hewn beach living and northern California’s eco-friendly lifestyle and posh-but-approachable wine culture. And, as far as new boutique hotels go, the Kirkwood Collection’s Hideaway Santa Barbara captures this spirit. The Hideaway is a nine-room marvel of expert repurposing with an interesting story. It was built in 1908 as a private home and carriage house, constructed in the California Craftsman style, and later converted into student housing for a local college.
The appropriately named Hideaway is a quiet, comfortably elegant antidote to the busy luxury resorts, particularly for honeymooning and baby-mooning couples and other adults seeking out that rare balance of convenience and privacy. The staff is young and well informed about what’s on and good in town, but also delightfully unpretentious, ensuring each guest can enjoy this little piece of Santa Barbara paradise as they wish.
There are many wonderful bed-and-breakfast touches, including afternoon cookies and Champagne, a daily vegetarian breakfast cooked to order and fresh-brewed Coastal Peaks Coffee in the lobby. These are deftly combined with several creature comforts one would find inside the area’s best larger hotels, including French bath products, luxury linens, rain showerheads, Apple TVs, JBL Bluetooth clock radios, fireplaces and a dual-zone wine cooler mini-fridge. Natural light is also a big selling point, with large windows and skylights setting the mood in the suites, as well as the solarium/breakfast nook and living room-style lobby. Parking is also a breeze, with a car space for every suite in the carriage house.
The Hideaway’s romantic ambiance is further enhanced with views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the historic Fernald Mansion along with its own pretty landscaping. The beach and trails are a short walk in one direction while Santa Barbara’s emergent, trendsetting Urban Wine Trail and Funk Zone neighborhood — a village unto itself — is a few minutes in the other.
Amid the funky diners, art galleries, winery tasting rooms, shops and seafood emporiums scattered around the neighborhood, there are a few one-of-a-kind locales you could spend hours grazing on chef-driven food and savoring some of the best wines coming out of Santa Barbara’s production areas. Margerum Wine Company provides a large, sophisticated space designed for those who want to sip and linger in the afternoon or early evening. While regulars will order a glass of their favorites, you can order one of the Tasting Room Flights and pair them with a nicely curated cheese and charcuterie board or go all in on a pizza or two, or go luxe with the signature Arugula Salad with smoked duck, dried cherries and goat cheese.
Chef Peter Lee’s inspired tapas, paella dishes and some evocative Iberian-influenced interior design practically makes Loquità a gateway to Spain. The details are there, from the gin-and-tonic cocktails to tiled adornments to a busy open kitchen that’s as aromatic and visually interesting as some tapas cafés in Barcelona and Seville. However, the acclaimed chef (whose résumé includes Las Vegas’ Joel Robuchon, Sonoma’s El Dorado Kitchen and Los Angeles’ Gusto) makes things interesting with his Korean heritage and fresh ingredients from nearby farms in classics like croquetas and patatas bravas and tapas with steelhead trout, beef or spiny lobster.
For casual breakfasts and lunches, Helena Avenue Bakery (which bakes the bread served at Loquità) epitomizes the “dine like a local” mindset. While just-baked breads, Swiss-style pretzels and pastries are available for picnics, there are plenty of excuses to dine in, from a tangy tortilla soup and addictive fried potatoes to burgers, salads and home-style main dishes weaving in whatever is in season. The ambiance is pure wine country, from the wine barrel accents to a bar dispensing local wines and beers to an open-concept bakery.
If shopping is your thing, look beyond the multitude of surf shops and trendy Los Angeles-style boutiques and bee-line to Loveworn. This hidden spot amid several restaurants is a delightful mash-up of art gallery and clothing shop specializing in vintage pieces and designs reworked into striking statement pieces.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit now offers a new, 90-minute Mexican Doll Workshop perfect for families. Children are invited to design their own Mexican rag doll using colored ribbons and fabrics. Offering a unique bonding experience for families, the workshop also supports the local community and honors the indigenous women who started the craft.
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.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a great place to bring your history-loving family. Located in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the park is the site of the 1777–1778 winter encampment of the Continental army during the American Revolutionary War. Today, the 3,500-acre park boasts trails, replicas and other historical markers perfect for learning more about Valley Forge’s place in our nation’s history.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, amplifies the family vacation with a new partnership with KidsDreamFactory to provide themed glamping experiences customized for children at the resort.