It took Caltrans just 12 days to reopen Highway 101 in Santa Barbara — a remarkable feat if you saw footage of the Jan. 9 mudslides that killed 21 people and overwhelmed the freeway along with dozens of homes and businesses in Montecito.
As cleanup continues, the streets of Montecito are still closed and beaches in and near Carpinteria remain closed and littered with debris. But beyond Carpinteria and Montecito, most of Santa Barbara County has returned to business as usual. And the return of tourists will be crucial to the area’s economy.
Here are some prime Santa Barbara County options we covered in the course of our 2017 California Bucket List research. (For destinations near Montecito, be sure to call or check the web in advance, beginning with the Santa Barbara tourism office.)
1. Tri-tip and acoustic blues at a tavern in the mountains above Santa Barbara.
2. Memories of the real Karana and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” at Mission Santa Barbara.
3. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, which stops in Santa Barbara on its journeys between San Diego and San Luis Obispo.
4. La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, once one of Julia Child’s favorite Mexican places.
5. Miniature horses at the Quicksilver horse ranch in Solvang.
6. Jalama, a beach with burgers and solitude.
7. The Santa Barbara Courthouse and its views, both inside and out.
8. La Purísima, the mission in Lompoc that’s now a state historic park, complete with livestock.
9. The Hitching Post II, gateway to Santa Barbara wine country and key location in the movie “Sideways.”
10. Aebleskiver, everyone’s favorite dessert in the Danish hamlet of Solvang.
Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds