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Call it the day of the do-overs. That's the best way to sum up a Saturday we spent exploring the Santa Barbara area. Everything we did was worth repeating, although for different reasons.
The general plan called for hiking in the morning, paddle boarding in the afternoon and winding down with dinner.
After some Googling, we narrowed in on specifics: Seven Falls Trail and Goleta Beach. Dinner was left open.
Choosing the hike named Seven Falls was admittedly optimistic in a drought year. But the pictures online of people splashing in deep pools and sliding down rock water slides sold me. And since the recent rains, I figured we at least had a chance for some water.
We drove into the hills, passing the Santa Barbara Mission. Parking was a challenge, but we found a place to squeeze in on the side of Tunnel Road.
We continued on foot to the top of the street. There, where the trail begins, so do the views. We enjoyed a panorama of the ocean and the distant Channel Islands before the path turned into the canyon.
Following the trail is not always easy, given the lack of consistent signage and multiple intersections that lead to different destinations. But with plenty of locals coming and going, we were pointed in the right direction.
A short descent led us to the creek bed and some shade. We turned right and made our way up the narrow, V-shaped gorge. There is a trail of sorts along the left side, but it was easier to pick our way along the creek bed.
A welcome breeze rustled the undergrowth and brushed the cottonwoods and sycamores overhead. I could see why this is such a popular hike. The only thing missing was the water.
The creek was dry, save for a few pools of still, brackish water. One blocked further progress upstream. We decided this hike would need a post El Nino do-over to be truly appreciated.
In search of water, we made our way next to Goleta Beach. Located just south of the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, this too is a popular spot. It's more like lakeshore than seashore. Picnickers staked their claim on the wide grassy area and beachgoers were lined up along the sand.
And with no real surf to worry about, it was the perfect spot to launch the paddleboard without starring in a FailArmy video. We spent a perfect afternoon alternating between lounging in the sun and paddling across the calm waters of the bay. This was an experience that was definitely worth repeating.
Eventually, the setting sun reminded it us that it was time for phase three of our plan for the day: dinner.
After consulting Yelp, we decided on Outpost for its intriguing menu. We didn't notice that it was part of The Goodland, a new boutique hotel in Goleta. As we neared the address on Calle Real, April said "I don't want to eat at a hotel restaurant." She had visions of boring, overpriced food.
But, this wasn't just any hotel. Conde Nast Traveler named The Goodland a top-100 new hotel last year. And it was easy to see why as we walked in through the main courtyard that features a large pool and a pergola-covered outdoor lounge area. The lounge transitions into the main dining room, where we soon found ourselves ensconced in a comfortable booth.
Everything was tasty, but the Brussels sprouts with coconut, pine nuts and Thai basil were amazing. And so were the kimchi fries with lime curry aioli.
It was getting late and we still had to drive home. But we decided we'd be back to The Goodland. And not just for dinner. Next time we'll make a weekend of it.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic. He doesn't normally eat Brussels sprouts.
Do It All Over Again
Outpost at the Grantland