Downtown Santa Barbara is a beautiful place to explore, filled with charming shops and cafes. But there’s more to this pretty coastal city than shopping and eating and drinking.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a filled with the sort of collection much larger cities would be very happy to have. With more than 27,000 art works from Monet to contemporary art and photography, it’s a great spot to get a culture fix.
When we visited we were lucky enough to the charming, passionate and very informative docent Loree Gold take us around the musuem. Here Loree shares some insights into her role, and some great travel tips for Santa Barbara in Ten Questions:
What’s the best thing about your job?
I really enjoy engaging with different types and age groups of people. Although I’m the art educator, I love learning something new everyday, from the individual views of those I encounter.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
In a perfect world, we would all get paid a lot of money for what we love to do. I am an artist.
What’s something about your role that you wish people understood?
Being a docent means being a volunteer. It is a self motivated position that involves continual education, as exhibitions change. We write, direct, and perform our own scripts. We do get evaluated, and the facts are checked each time.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your day off?
After gardening, I like to look for beach glass at low tide or hike the low hills if it’s high tide. When it’s hot, I grab a kayak or paddle board to cool off. Golf or bocce ball are my favorite group activities, followed by a cookout on the grill at sunset. I enjoying the great outdoors with friends, fire, food, drinks, and games.
What’s a cheap and cheerful food secret you (usually) only tell your friends?
My “go to” cheap eats are Lilly’s Taco’s on lower Chapala St. for excellent dollar tacos. And, Tino’s Italian Grocery for the Deluxe Torpeado Sandwich with extra peperoncini. Tino passed away last year, and the grocery is moving to Carrillo St., where I await the re-opening soon.
If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner?
The El Encanto Hotel for brunch and a view. Great place to spent a leisurely Sunday. Make a late reservation, sit back and enjoy the day. Eat slow, drink slow. take it all in and have a walk around the beautiful gardens before going home. For dinner I would fill myself with sushi, sashimi, and uni shots at Arigato on State St. My fantasy splurge would be hire a car and driver, to take me to Nobu Malibu, on Pacific Coast Hwy,
Where do you take a friend when they come to visit?
For casual breakfast with outdoor seating, The Shop on Milpas St. pleases everybody. La Super Rica, on Milpas, is a favorite for fun and sharing Mexican food. I always order one of everything on the menu and create a buffet. These small plates are best when shared, mixed and matched. For a casual dinner Sama Sama on State St. offers excellent Asian fusion, and small plates to share. My favorite “special” restaurant is Julienne, on Canon Perdido. It’s small. chic, family owned and the essence of Santa Barbara.
What’s the best shopping experience in town?
For the best food stuff around, it’s got to be Saturday Farmer’s Market, along with the new Public Market Place. I go to Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Ave. for the basics and shoes, followed by a stroll down State St. for window shopping and current finds. I often take visitors to Montecito to enjoy shopping the Upper and Lower Village.
Is there a local tourist cliché that’s actually worth doing?
Yes, it’s one thing to drive by the Mission and the Court House, but it’s a great idea to go inside and take a look up and around. If you haven’t seen the inside the Chapel or the Mural Room, you really haven’t seen these attractions.
Is there a tourist attraction nearby that you can’t believe you still haven’t visited yourself?
Well, no one will rent a Segway with me, and I’ve never been invited out on the Land Shark yet.
Amanda met Loree Gold when she was travelling along the coast of California on a Celebrity Century Cruise. Some of the other interesting people she met on the cruise include Scott O’Hanlon of the Waterfront Beach Resort and John Moran from Alcatraz Night Tours.