Little Black Book

Blissful Santa Barbara: A Guide for the Hungry Bibliophile

by Nicole Gulotta
Santa Santa Barbara from the clock tower. Photo by Nicole Gulotta

Eat This Poem, one of Fathom's 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites, highlights the best food and fiction in cities around the world. Founder Nicole Gulotta gives us the rundown of all things literary in the idyllic beach town where she lived for eight years (and still regularly visits).


The Book Den
15 E. Anapamu St.; +1-805-962-3321
A local staple since 1933, The Book Den is one of California's oldest book stores. Today, they sell new, used, and out-of-print titles.

3321 State St.; +1-805-682-6787
This local bookstore is away from the bustle of downtown, but worth a visit. They're big supporters of local and regional writers, and host readings throughout the year.

UCSB Bookstore
University of California, Santa Barbara; +1-805-893-3271
Santa Barbara has wonderful local bookstores, but the nostalgic side of me secretly loves walking around the campus bookstore at UCSB with a pale mocha from Nicoletti's in hand.

Central Library

The Cental Library branch. Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Public Library.


Karpeles Manuscript Library
21 W. Anapamu St.; +1-805-962-5322
This is a museum holding the largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents in the world. It's a gem just off bustling State Street.

Santa Barbara Public Library
40 E. Anapamu St.; +1-805-962-7653
The Central Library is conveniently located adjacent to the art museum.

UCSB Library
University of California, Santa Barbara; +1-805-893-2478
I spent many hours here as a college student. Head to the eighth floor for an expansive view of campus and the ocean.

Coffee Cat

Cute shopfront at Coffee Cat. Photo by Nicole Gulotta.


Coffee Cat
1201 Anacapa St.; +1-805-962-7164
I spent many hours writing papers here during my student days. If you're on the move, grab a cup to go and walk across the street to the courthouse. Take the elevator up the clock tower for a panoramic view of the city.

The French Press
1101 State St. and 528 Anacapa St.; +1-805-963-2721
This coffee shop has two locations, including one on bustling State Street and the more tucked-away option on nearby Anacapa Street. Both offer ample seating and are places you can stay a while.

1315 Anacapa St,; +1-805-963-9353
This cupcake store and adjoining cafe is a good place to calm your sugar cravings. They also brew Intelligentsia coffee.


Photo by Nicole Gulotta.


9 W. Victoria St.; +1-805-730-1160
This was the first restaurant that introduced me to the beauty of pairing wine with food. Their mostly-local wine list, farmer's market menu, cozy atmosphere, and personable staff has made this my favorite restaurant in town since I started eating there in 2006.

Jeannine's Bakery
1253 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; +1-805-969-7878
A family-owned restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. They offer an impressive array of baked goods to go with your coffee or tea (that tend to sell out by the afternoon), as well as hearty and healthy meal options, like lobster benedict, whole grain pancakes, or warm quinoa with seasonal fruit and almond milk. I'm partial to the Montecito branch (within walking distance to Butterfly Beach).

Les Marchands Wine Bar
131 Anacapa St., Suite B; +1-805-284-0380
If your idea of "proper" includes wine, baguettes smeared with butter, and salmon cured with creme fraiche and tarragon, this new wine bar is the spot for you.

The Lark
131 Anacapa St.; +1-805-284-0370
Next to Les Marchands in the renovated Funk Zone near the Santa Barbara harbor, The Lark is a community restaurant that celebrates the bounty of the central coast.

Olio Pizzeria
11 W. Victoria St., Suite 21; +1-805-899-2699
The pizzeria next door to sister restaurant Olio e Limone, is a great spot for lunch. Try the Umbra pie with mushrooms and truffles.

Cest Cheese

Spoiled for choice. Photo courtesy of C'est Cheese.


Isabella Gourmet Foods
5 E. Figueroa St.; +1-805-585-5257
A boutique grocery that stocks foods from local purveyors, like olive oil from Ojai, Santa Barbara pistachio meal, and chocolate.

C'est Cheese
825 Santa Barbara St.; +1-805-965-0318
If you're in the mood for a picnic or are heading up to wine country, stop here to pick up an assortment of cheeses for your basket.

Elings Park

Take a hike. Photo by MIke Verbois / Courtesy of Elings Park.


If you're looking to create a writer's retreat for yourself, spend time at La Casa de Maria (800 El Bosque Rd., +1-805-969-5031) in Montecito. The grounds will fill you with inspiration.

For expansive views, go up the clock tower at City Hall, or wander through Elings Park above Hendry's Beach.

View from the Piere

View from the pier. Photo by Nicole Gulotta.


Each year, the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival features a variety of panelists and up to nearly 100 booth vendors offering books, author appearances, and non-profit information.

The annual Women's Literary Festival celebrates the work of contemporary female authors.

UCSB offers events through its Arts & Lectures series, and the College of Creative Studies hosts Wednesday afternoon readings during the academic year.


The gorgeous UCSB campus. Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbara.


1. Favorite view: Elings Park. For the best view, go through the park entrance then drive to the end of the road, where you'll come to a parking lot. Just before the lot, turn left up the hill, then wander around the pathways, sit under trees, and take in the sweeping views of the harbor.

2. Favorite place to write: On a bench overlooking Butterfly Beach, or in a local coffee shop.

3. Favorite museum: Karpeles Manuscript Library. It's a hidden gem tucked away off of State Street.

4. Favorite coffee shop: I love Jeannine's Bakery in Montecito. Their whole grain pancakes are a favorite.

5. Favorite thing about Santa Barbara: Everything. And that's not an exaggeration. It has the culture and amenities of a big city, but it's really a beach town at heart. Plus, you're at the base of one of the world's best wine country regions. Also, the sea.

This guide was edited and condensed from a guide that originally appeared on Eat This Poem and is printed here with permission.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.