Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Best Way to Visit UC Santa Barbara

Visit UC Santa BarbaraWhether you’re coming to visit a son or daughter, touring schools to see which one is the best fit, or simply want to get a glimpse of one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, we are the perfect starting point for your UC Santa Barbara adventure.

Prospective UCSB Students – This is a time in your child’s life when they get to start an adventure that is all their own. As you are pouring over the academic course guides and admission requirements, don’t forget to consider the area and the culture they’ll be immersing themselves in.
Get a true feel for the spirit of Santa Barbara and take some time to explore. Experience the vibrant downtown social scene, wander the grounds of the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara, and of course take some time to enjoy the natural beauty of the California coastline - all within walking distance of our charming bed and breakfast.
As long-time Santa Barbara residents, we can give you a local’s perspective on everything from the best restaurants to some of the lesser known but equally amazing spots ideal for studying or unwinding from a stressful week.

Parents and Loved Ones – Get a peaceful night’s rest just far enough from campus (about a 10-minute drive). You’ll wake up to the smell of a homemade gourmet breakfast to power the exciting day ahead.
If you’re in town just to spend some time with your student, treat them to a meal in the town’s hot spot - the Funk Zone. It’s within walking distance of the inn and there’s always something new to try. We’re also a quick bike ride to the beach, so picnic lunches and evening bonfires can easily be incorporated into your trip.
Graduation time? Let us share our favorite family gathering spots to celebrate this major accomplishment. After the festivities, stroll back to the inn and reflect on the day with hot cup of coffee and fresh baked cookies before you slip off to bed in a cozy suite.

Luxury lodging near UCSB
Vacationers – You don’t have to be a student to appreciate this coastal gem. Plan a special day-trip to explore the campus and perhaps check out a soccer game or dance performance. Universities always seem to have a wide array of interesting events and activities, many of which are affordable and benefit a good cause. The best part? This major attraction is a short 10-minute drive away so you’ll be back in time for afternoon wine hour on the terrace.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Top 10 Things To Do in Santa Barbara

things to do in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a coastal paradise with all of the things you love about California wrapped into one town. Sparkling waters, lush vineyards, and Spanish flair set the scene for treasured memories under the sun. As long term residents, the owners and staff of the Cheshire Cat Inn wanted to provide you with a few of their favorite things to do in Santa Barbara:

      1. Taste the Town: You’ll be hard pressed to find yourself dining at a chain restaurant here, and with all the fresh local options why would you want to? Santa Barbara is known for fresh seafood, coastal-inspired dishes, and killer Mexican cuisine. Check out this guide to find the place that suits your cravings.

2. Wine Tours and Vineyards: Santa Barbara vineyards are absolutely breathtaking – a wine tour is a must for any visit and the diverse flavors and distinctive character of Santa Barbara wines mean you’ll have no trouble finding a bottle worthy to take home.

3. Urban Wine Trail: If the downtown feel is more your pace, the Urban Wine Trail is a great way to get a real taste of the history and charm of Santa Barbara. You’ll sip on wines crafted by the best vineyards in the area as you stroll through the streets of this stunning city.

4. Take a Hike: California-living means lots of outdoor time and Santa Barbara has some of the most breathtaking nature and wildlife around. Top picks: go for a morning hike to the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains or take a more laid-back hike to the San Ysidro Waterfall.

5. Bike the City: One of the favorite ways to see Santa Barbara is by bike – so much more freedom than with a car. Whether you’re looking for a ride along the beach, through the town, or across wine country, the city is bike friendly so ditching the car is no hardship.

6.  Trolley Tours: Hit all of the hot spots in one shot on these charming trolley tours. See everything from the signature Spanish-inspired architecture of the city to the scenic bird refuge at the Santa Barbara zoo –the whole tour is narrated so you might learn a thing or two!

7. Go on an Adventure: A thrilling Santa Barbara activity is the perfect way to try something new. Try stand-up paddle boarding, surf lessons, or even paragliding. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to walk away from these unforgettable experiences with some amazing memories.

8. Sustainable Vine Wine Tours: For a more intimate wine tasting experience that’s also environmentally friendly – this is the place for you. Your tour includes Mercedes Benz luxury transportation, wine tasting at the small, family-owned wineries of Santa Barbara County, and a made-to-order organic lunch.

9. Dine at Bouchon: One of our favorite spots – Bouchon is coastal dining at it’s finest, with the menu designed around their exclusive Santa Barbara wine list. You’ll enjoy thoughtfully paired meals with the areas freshest local ingredients, all in a warm, relaxed atmosphere.

10. The Funk Zone: This area of downtown is all about celebrating the unique character of the businesses and artists that reside there. You can see everything from quaint art galleries to eclectic cafes and wineries. The neighborhood has quickly become a hot spot for locals and visitors alike.

After your exhilarating day exploring this sea-side haven, return to the Cheshire Cat Inn, our luxurious Santa Barbara Bed and Breakfast for a bedtime treat and a peaceful night’s sleep. You’ll wake up to the smell of fresh homemade breakfast, rejuvenated and ready to take on a new day of adventures.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Santa Barbara International Film Festival :: Jan 27-Feb 7, 2015

            January 27 – February 7, 2015

Celebrating its 30th year, the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival is proud to announce a host of celebrity events as well as over 200 feature and short films from all over the world.    Alongside these screenings, the festival also contains different sections including industry panels and education programs.  This year, the prestigious Montecito Award will be presented to Jennifer Anniston in a tribute which will take place on Friday, January 30, 2015 making particular note of her amazing performance in the film “Cake”.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Founded in 1985, the festival has changed and grown over the years and has gained notoriety since the takeover by its current executive producer, Roger Durling, who has taken it to its current status of among the best of international film festivals. Intent on providing films for all ages and tastes and representing a bevy of international communities, the festival offers something for everyone.  Taking place from January 27th through February 5th, Durling’s idea to move the festival to coincide with the Academy Awards affords the opportunity for actors nominated for awards to attend and interact with audiences.  In addition to star quality celebrities, independent film makers are also honored and are quite often found introducing their films or hosting Q&A sessions afterwards.

As a proud sponsor of this event and also to commemorate the Cheshire Cat Inn’s 30th Anniversary, we have created this special package for the festival.  Our location is perfect as we’re just a short walk from many of the theatres and restaurants participating in the festival.  You will also have the opportunity of meeting producers, directors and sometime the actors as many of them stay with the Inn during the festival.  Situated in a leafy neighborhood, our accommodations range from queen and king rooms in our 2 gracious Victorians to sumptuous suites with Jacuzzi tubs. Our Craftsman cottages offer 2 bedrooms, full kitchen and living rooms plus private decks ideal for families, girl getaways or friends traveling together. 

A special package for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to Celebrate The Inn’s 30th Anniversary Too

Queen Room $185 Mid-Week/$205 Friday and Saturday
King Room $225 Mid-Week/$255 Friday and Saturday
(Saturday night stay requires two night minimum)
Rate includes
Accommodations at our Santa Barbara Inn
Breakfast Daily
Afternoon Wine Hour
Free parking and WiFi
Free 4 Film MiniPak for 1 night stay per room
Free 10 Film MiniPak for 2 nights or more stay per room
Reservations must be made directly with the Inn and is valid for the duration of the festival only

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season to our Past & Future Guests

It’s not too late to visit our festive city which is alive with beautiful decorations and where the shops and restaurants display their wares with flair and enthusiasm.  It truly is a magical time to visit and a wonderful chance to pick up all  of your last minute holiday gift purchases as well as attend some premier events such as the “Nutcracker Ballet” presented at two different venues, the Arlington and the Granada Theatres.    Seasonal plays include “La Pastorela” and an” Irish Celebration of the Winter Solstice” both widely celebrated by locals.  Alternatively, check out the Permanent Collection of Casa Dolores featuring works of art in clay, leather, wood, textile and silver representing the vast regions of Mexico and artisan craft traditions of the 20th century.  Or take in the Degas to Chagall exhibit on loan from the Armand Hammer Foundation housed at the small and well organized Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Boasting shopping options ranging from the luxurious department stores of Saks & Nordstrom’s to the small independent boutiques and shops with everything in between, Santa Barbara is your one stop shopping experience.  Outside malls offer stress free purchasing and a tranquil environment to sip a holiday latte or enjoy a light lunch.  Our favorites include Pascucci  offering a variety of pasta, pizza and salads as well as Anderson’s Danish Bakery featuring a host of Scandinavian delicacies. 

Our Santa Barbara Inn can provide you with the quintessential

accommodation within walking distance and or tram stop of most downtown shopping.  Comfortable guest rooms await your return from a day out and invite you to relax in style whether in our front of our warming fireplace in our main house or in one of our Jacuzzi rooms perfect for soaking your tired feet.  Delicious hors d’oeuvres and deluxe morning breakfast completes the consummate getaway. 
And before you leave, why not pickup one of our gift certificates, an ideal present for a family member, friend or office buddy.

We look forward to welcoming you back to your home away from home in 2015.


Christine Dunstan & Jack Greenwald   

Friday, October 24, 2014

Queen of the Missions

Mission Pilgrimage

One of the most interesting historical trails within California is the “Mission Pilgrimage” consisting of 21 missions built during a period of 54 years.  Over 200 years old and constructed before the discovery of gold and even before California was a state and referred to as Alta California, these outposts of Spain were founded to spread Christian doctrine and consolidate and extend the empire. Stretching from San Diego in the South up to Sonoma in the North, all are still standing despite natural and manmade disasters.  Each have their own architecture and history contributing to the fabric and texture of modern day California.

Established on December 4, 1786 and named after the patron saint Barbara, the 10th mission along the trail, commands a beautiful position framed by the Santa Ynez mountains with views of the Pacific Ocean earning her the well-deserved reputation of  “queen of the missions.” An easy but energetic walk from the Cheshire Cat Inn, a visit is highly recommended. A suggested departure time is just after a delicious breakfast when the air is still cool and the mission still quiet before the tourist buses descend. Your stroll takes you through a leafy neighborhood adorned with typical Santa Barbara architecture.  An impressive structure with 2 bell towers and a fa├žade modeled after an ancient Latin temple in Pre-Christian Rome, her beauty can be admired from a distance.  Surrounded by beautiful gardens and an extensive rose garden where locals walk their dogs and meet up with friends and neighbors,  the mission’s property contains the Mission Gardens, church and cemetery and houses an archive of significant and rare documents describing the living conditions of the Padres and Chumash Indians during their day. Testament to the wisdom of the Padres, the Mission is equipped with its own fresh water system. Although not drinkable today, water was directed from a creek in the mountains via a stone aqueduct to large tanks within the mission property providing water for all its inhabitants.  Today, sections of this elaborate and complex system are still part of the Santa Barbara water works.

The Mission still exists as an active church and hosts a list of local events including the opening ceremony of Fiesta Days which is one of Santa Barbara’s most beloved celebrations.  Another traditional favorite is attendance at the beautiful Christmas Eve Mass where children can also enjoy the live nativity scene held on the grounds. I Maddonori, the Italian street painting festival, invites people from all over the world to admire the exquisite chalk drawings. There is no doubt that  our “queen of the missions”  remains the iconic symbol of Santa Barbara.

Innkeeper Cheshire Cat Bed and Breakfast Inn

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Santa Barbara’s Best Kept Secret

One of the most fascinating works of nature is fast approaching.  It’s the yearly migration of thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies which gather amongst the beautiful blue eucalyptus trees of the magnificent Ellwood Park to find their mates.  This is a spectacular event which occurs between November through March and is an easy 20 minute drive from the Cheshire Cat Inn.  Located in the Ellwood Preserve, you can see these beautiful creatures hanging in clusters resembling bunches of grapes and dancing about in the late morning hours. It is a feast for the senses to see their fantastic colors and feel their soft fluttering motion – be careful not to touch them though as the oil from your skin can damage their wings. 

Monarch Butterfly Migration

A very popular pastime with  Santa Barbara’s,  Christine Dunstan owner of the Cheshire Cat Inn, suggests spending the day enjoying the entire park which not only includes the Butterfly Preserve but also Ellwood Bluffs and Ellwood Beach.   After a breakfast of cereals, fresh fruit, tasty homemade scones and the signature hot dish of the day, you embark on your day of discovery.  Easy directions are given out by our knowledgeable Innkeepers guiding you to the entrance of the park.  From there, meander through the grand forest of trees which house the butterflies to the flora and fauna of the pasture land ahead.  Trails abound which entertain dog walkers, families and college students alike and culminate at the rugged bluffs and exquisite beach below; a perfect time to have a picnic lunch.    The South Coast Deli, voted the best sandwich shop in Santa Barbara and only 2 blocks from the Cheshire Cat Inn, offers yummy “sammies’ to go such as roast beef with horseradish or a chicken chipotle club.  Relax and watch the ocean tide but don’t be too late to miss the wine and hors’ doeuvres hour from 5-6pm back at the Inn.    Chilled white Chardonnay alternating with Sauvignon Blanc, both from our local Santa Ynez Valley region is poured by our resident Innkeeper who offers restaurant choices for the evening ahead.  Enjoy easy conversation while chatting with other guests who share their day’s adventures and the ones ahead.  You might want to keep your day out a secret though so as to preserve Ellwood Park as one of Santa Barbara’s hidden treasures!  A perfect ending to a fabulous day.

We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you will be able to delight in the truly magical experience of the Butterfly’s annual pilgrimage. 

Ellwood Park
Innkeeper Cheshire Cat Bed and Breakfast Inn

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Magical Evenings at The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara

As the end of summer comes to an end, we look forward to the city’s cultural and musical season ahead with particular fondness for the Granada Theatre.  Home to the Santa Barbara Symphony and host to a vast array of musical events from opera to ballet to pop culture, this theatre is truly a venue for all.  Beautifully restored and gracious in every aspect, your experience is bound to be special.  Entering this elegant theatre takes you back in time to a period of gentility where people still dress up, almost a lost art these days.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are first rate.  The 2014/15 schedule promises wonderful performances along with some special events presenting Tony Bennett, Manuel Linan attending the Flamenco Arts Festival and Winston’s royal roost, modeled after the popular jazz night club of the 1950’s, the “Royal Roost”. 

The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara

Upcoming Events at The Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara
  • September 4, 2014 @ 8:00 Russell Peters - stand up comedy.
  • September 8, 2014 @ 7:00 Bugsy Malone 
  • September 18, 2014 @ 8:00 Winston's Royal Roost
  • September 20, 2014 @ 8:00 Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group
  • September 27, 2014 @ 8:00 Compania Manuel Linan - Nomada (Flamenco Arts Festival)
  • October 2, 2014 @ 7:00 Tony Bennett
  • October 4, 2014 @ 8:00 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • October 9, 2014 @ 8:00 London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • October 14, 2014 @ 8:00 Winston's Royal Roost
  • October 18, 2014 @ 8:00 and October 18, 2014 @ 3:00 Rachmaninoff and Chopin
  • October 21, 2014 @8:00 Michael Lewis 
  • October 25, 2014 @ 7:30 Scheherazade (street ballet) 
  • October 28, 2014 @ 7:00 Joshua Bell (violin)

A perfect evening can begin with tasty hors d’oevres and a glass of wine during the Cheshire Cat’s early evening social hour where you can mix and mingle with other guests before an easy walk down to the Granada.  This 10 minute stroll leads you past lovely buildings whose architecture is reminiscent of the city’s history and Spanish heritage.  Small boutiques and lively restaurants pave both sides of the main drag, State Street, offering early dining options and evening cocktails.  A favorite is Carlitos, a local establishment located just 2 blocks from our Santa Barbara bed and breakfast. Offering traditional Mexican cuisine, the food is delicious and is complemented with great service and atmosphere.  For a more fine dining experience, try Downey’s, just 1 block further down State Street whose reputation places it in the top echelon of Santa Barbara restaurants.  Owner and master chef John Downey creates wonderful dishes which tantalize the taste buds.  Having opened their doors at the same time as the Cheshire Cat Inn, we share a common bond of warm hospitality and have thus created the Santa Barbara “Great Escape” package including 1 night’s accommodation as well as dinner for 2.

There’s certainly no shortage of theaters in our small but “culturally rich” city  including the Lobero, Arlington & Victoria, each offering their own distinct flavor but the Granada holds a special place in our hearts and is truly the “grande dame”  We hope you will come and visit us by taking advantage of our midweek  packages  to experience the Granada first hand.