A thought to consider during your workday commute: It takes the same amount of time to cross town at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday as it does to reach the Santa Barbara county line.
Here are a few other things to think about should you (ahem) decide to change course.
If you’re without wheels, hitch a ride on the Pacific Surfliner, leaving out of Union Station six times a day. The train takes a two-and-a-half-hour scenic route up the coast.
If you want to see the southernmost tip of the Central Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA), Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours will pick you up for a backcountry wine tasting tour through the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Crash pad or luxury suite, there’s a place for every traveler to rest his or her weary head. Motel-flip meisters Shelter Social Club run a tight, modern ship at the Agave Inn in downtown Santa Barbara and the Hamlet Inn in Solvang.
If budgeting is for the birds, cozy up to a posh garden cottage at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, knowing there’s a good chance you won’t leave the hotel’s grounds (well, maybe just to hit the new Pressed Juicery when it opens next month).
Start the day the surfer way at one of the three locations of Backyard Bowls. Fuel up with giant acai bowls, hot quinoa porridge, or a brekkie smoothie. If brunch calls your name, beeline for D’Angelo Bread (25 West Gutierrez Street; 805-962-5466) and get your order in for Eggs Rose (kalamata olive bread topped with artichoke spread and poached eggs).
The war for best taco is best waged at lunch: La Super-Rica Taqueria (622 North Milpas Street; 805-963-4940) got Julia Child’s vote (the rush-hour lines back her up); those who like a more nose-to-tail (mostly nose) approach swear by Lilly’s Taqueria.
For a break from beach scenery, make like a stagecoach circa 1886 and park it at historic Cold Spring Tavern. On Sundays, the barbecue sends smoke signals to the crowds that tri-tip is on the grill, and it’s time to descend on the roadside relic for a frosty beer.
In nearby Los Olivos sits Saarloos and Sons, a family-run shop and tasting room with wine harvested and bottled at their nearby farm.
For a taste of the familiar, slip into a seat at the downtown outpost of The Hungry Cat for a Greyhound Proper and seafood platter. You probably won’t want to take the sea urchin to go, but you can bring home the new seafood spice mix.
No trip is complete without a souvenir. Swing by Botanik in Summerland for Indian block-print linens, Moroccan straw totes, and home decor with a horticulturalist bent.
Pick up a field guide to birds to help you identify the fella that’s been acting as an alarm clock or a fine set of pewter-stemmed crystal wine glasses from Upstairs at Pierre Lafond.
You’re no tourist. Act natural at Lotusland, a 37-acre homage to exotic plants cultivated by eccentric socialite and Polish opera singer Ganna Walska.
If the flora doesn’t get you, perhaps a little fauna will: Head to Ellwood Mesa Open Space to see the tens of thousands of monarch butterflies that migrate to Goleta Butterfly Grove every year. It’s enough to make you want to ponder life’s big questions inside your yurt on Lake Cachuma.