The Hipsters’ Guide to Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is rarely defined as “hip” but I think my fellow residents and visitors in the 25-35 age range would agree that there is indeed a “cool” side. You’ve just got to know where to go. So let’s remedy that! For the record, the term “hipster” is not meant to have the negative connotation it often implies. I just don’t know another label for this demographic/psychographic, which BTW absolutely includes people over 35, too! I’m thinking of the young at heart, people interested in art, music and pop culture. Stylish and tech-savvy, creative-minded and free-spirited. You get the idea. If this is you, here’s where you can find your people and what’s “cool” in Santa Barbara. (Skinny jeans optional.)
The Presidio Motel and its sister property Agave Inn are affordable, fun and effortlessly hip. They provide complimentary beach cruisers and Presidio keeps complimentary beers on ice in the afternoon on their sun patio. If you like classic Americana, book a room at the original Motel 6 down by East Beach. It was the first of the chain’s properties to debut their new colorful, modern “Phoenix”-style remodeled rooms. And if you’re looking to splurge on your stay, Canary Hotel is a full-service boutique property in the heart of downtown with a vibrant atmosphere and lively bar scene. They do bikes, too, and are equipped to recharge your electric car before you leave town.
The downtown wineries on The Urban Wine Trail present an untraditional wine tasting experience and host great parties and special events. Many of our region’s younger winemakers have tasting rooms on the UWT, including creative masterminds like Dave Potter (Municipal Winemakers) and Christian Garvin (Oreana Winery), who quite adeptly put their own unique spin on the wine biz. These wineries are located primarily in The Funk Zone and SoCo neighborhoods, both hubs of independent galleries, shops and eateries.
Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, the cultivator of Santa Barbara’s contemporary arts scene, always has something interesting and cutting-edge on exhibit. Plus, they throw killer evening events. For your radar this spring/summer: Eating Apples in Paradise, The Home Show Revisited and Michele O’Marah: Video Portraits. Ask their staff for recommendations on other galleries to hit in town.
Our live music line-up runs the gamut from local bands to internationally-revered artists. What stands out about catching a show in SB is the intimacy of the venues, whether you’re seeing Cat Power at SOhO, Justin Townes Earle at the Lobero or Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Local promoters like New Noise SB and Club Mercy bring in the indie and emerging acts, along with some major stars and surprises. Refer to our weekly arts & entertainment paper The Independent to find out what’s on stages big and small.
Browse and buy at Left Coast Books, a new art bookstore and gallery in Goleta open Wednesday-Saturday. Peruse the literature at cozy Chaucer’s Bookstore, our last-man-standing independent bookseller (there are also a few superb used book stores in town). Music fiends can get their fix at Just Play Music and Warbler Records & Goods. The latter has more than music to browse, with handmade house wares, jewelry and more on display for sale. The Supply Room at Presidio Motel also carries an eclectic and well-curated collection of fashionable goods, from clothing and shoes to artwork and accessories. The selection of clothing and shoes at women’s boutique DIANI is dangerously good and the shopgirls are refreshingly friendly and honest. Budget-conscious shoppers will get more bang for their buck at consignment shops like The Closet and Crossroads Trading Co. Men will do best at Bryan Lee, which carries lines like J. Lindeberg and Earnest Sewn.
Good food translates across all demographics and we’ve got that in spades, so I won’t even attempt to narrow dining options down to a short list for you hipsters. But in the spirit of supporting youthful entrepreneurs, I will venture to say that Julienne is phenomenal and run by a young couple in their 20’s! For nightlife, check out this Santa Barbara After Dark post, which gives a comprehensive overview of things to do and places to go once the sun goes down.