Cherie and I hope that you will find time to enjoy Santa Barbara outside of the conference. Here is some insight on what to expect when you are not attending the meeting. It might convince you to stay an extra day or bring along your family.
Location: The conference is on the UC Santa Barbara campus. We are not in Santa Barbara per se, but instead flanked by the college town of Isla Vista and the suburban community of Goleta. If the city of Santa Barbara were Manhattan, we would be New Jersey. But not Trenton. Like the Garden State, this means more tranquility, nice beaches, and no tourist crowds.
Weather: June Gloom is the defining climate. Humid air condenses over the cold ocean at night and then is pulled inland as the land mass heats. With enough heating, the fog clears and onshore breezes prevail. This means early morning coastal fog with sunny, breezy conditions in the afternoons. Temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees along the coast and can be in the mid 60s in the morning. Our evenings are cool. Typical Santa Barbara attire is a light jacket or sweater, a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. This works for going to the beach or out to dinner. Hot weather is just a half hour away in the Santa Ynez Valley (see below).
Getting around: You will love campus so much you won’t want to leave. But first, you have to get here. If you have an EID grant, you will probably be flying into Santa Barbara Airport. Cars can be rented at the Santa Barbara Airport, which is 5 minutes by car from campus. You will need a parking permit at UCSB. Getting to campus from the Santa Barbara Airport is easiest by taxi ($15). Tell the driver you are headed to the Manzanita Village dorms on the west side of campus. If you don’t have a large grant, you will probably be flying into Los Angeles. You will also probably not want to stop. Coming from Los Angeles (2 hrs away in average traffic – which is rare), rent a car if you are in a group, or take the Santa Barbara airbus (about $60) if you are alone (the airbus does not drop you on campus, however). Several places in Isla Vista will rent you a bicycle, and there is a network of cycling paths around campus. Bus service is somewhat regular from campus to downtown (about 20 minutes away). But Santa Barbara is not a model for public transportation (apart from the tourist trolley that circulates downtown).
Below is list of the sorts of things send our out of town guests to do so we can get some peace. There is much more information online if you need maps or other details.
Driving directions from Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) to Manzanita Village Residence Hall at UCSB
Local taxi and ground transportation services
Car rental information
Local bus service - MTD Santa Barbara
Map of UCSB
Shuttle from LAX to Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Airbus (make a reservation online)
Driving directions from LAX to Manzanita Village Residence Hall at UCSB.
Food: On campus, the food is edible, but there are many other options. We have provided a link to “places that serve food” in nearby Isla Vista. Silver Greens, the Bagel Café, Freebirds, and the Isla Vista Coop are above average cheap eats. They are unpretentious and, since most of the students have left for the summer, will be uncrowded. Isla Vista has several other non-chain fast food outlets and coffee houses priced for a student budget. All are within a few blocks of the dorms. Not surprisingly, decent beer on tap is available in most settings. There is a single small bar, the Study Hall, on the main drag. As for Goleta (where grownups live), many of us head over to the Camino Real Marketplace because it has several food options, including the Hollister Brewery. The Calle Real area also has numerous places to eat. The Mercury Lounge on Hollister near Fairview is our favorite local dive bar and sometimes has live music. Downtown Santa Barbara is where the good (and more expensive) dining options are. More on downtown below.
Local Businesses in Isla Vista
Places to Eat in Isla Vista
Beaches (1 minute): UCSB has three miles of undeveloped beachfront and is the main attraction of the campus. To the east of the dorms is campus point. This beach has a few tide pools at low tide. It is one of the best places to learn to surf –and hosts a surf and kayak camp that is a possible place to stash your kids (ages 9-15) for the week. The surf is small in the summer and good for learning. But fair warning before you go in the water, it is nipple-raising cold. Water temperatures in the summer range from 60 to 70 F and most people use a wetsuit for surfing. To the east of campus point, you can walk to Goleta Beach, a favorite family hang out, which has bathrooms, a decent Beach Side restaurant, and salty alkies hanging out along the fishing pier. West of the dorms, the ocean meets the bluffs at high tide. Low tides will be early in the morning, allowing you to head west only then. If the tide is rising, do not head west in the morning if you have a to give a talk in a later session, as the next low tide will be at night. Wherever you go, the beaches can have a lot of tar and this will coat your feet. We scrub it off with baby oil, but tequila also works. If you have been on the beach, please check that your feet/shoes are clean before coming into the conference area or the dorms.
Downtown (20 minutes): Santa Barbara has a charming downtown and harbor area that is a very popular tourist destination. It is about 15 miles to the South/East of campus by freeway. The main activities are strolling, shopping, eating, and translating the Spanish street names. Common destinations are the harbor, East Beach, Stearns Wharf, State Street, the Santa Barbara Mission, the Natural History Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the Courthouse, the Presidio, the zoo, and the Santa Barbara Art Museum. There are many good places to eat, from local Mexican, to California Cuisine, to Ethnic. There are also many bars and dance places along State Street. June 25th is the Santa Barbara Solstice Parade (State Street), which is one of the most popular events of the year in Santa Barbara (think Burning Man down main street). The Santa Barbara County Bowl has frequent headliner music acts – check the schedule before you come just in case your favorite band is playing.
Directions from UCSB to State Street, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Visitor Information
Mountains and Santa Ynez Valley (30+ minutes): To the northwest is the Santa Ynez Valley, home to numerous wineries, most of which offer tasting and picnicking. The weather here is considerably hotter and the atmosphere much more rural, so swap your sandals for cowboy boots. Santa Ynez is the perfect afternoon trip for a foggy day. A nice driving loop is to cross the mountains at hwy 154 (stopping at the Cold Springs Tavern along the way), head into Los Olivos or Solvang (perhaps to pull some slots at the Chumash Casino), and then come back along the coast on hwy 101. The local mountains also have opportunities for hiking and rock climbing.
Natural History: By late June, spring migration will be over, but many local birds are easy to see. Favorite spots are the campus lagoon, Campus Point (for ocean migrants), Goleta Slough, Devereux Slough/Coal Oil Point Reserve, and Lake Cachuma (bald eagles). During the summer, blue and humpback whales enter the channel and these can be seen by from the Condor Express, which departs daily from Santa Barbara Harbor. Check the Condor website to see what is around and also check the weather as the channel can get rough if the wind picks up. SCUBA diving charters are available out of Santa Barbara Harbor to the Channel Islands and excursions to the Channel Islands can be arranged through Island Packers in Ventura Harbor.