Eat This Poem, one of Fathom's 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FOR A PROPER MEAL
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.
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.
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.
TREATS FOR THE ROAD
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.
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.
WHILE YOU'RE HERE
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.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
On the third Monday of every month, locals gather at 5:15 p.m. to read their favorite poems at Blue Agave (20 E. Cota St.; +1-805-899-4694). Visitors welcome.
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.
NICOLE'S TOP FIVE
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.