Southern California never gets old, keep exploring with Traffic411. Instant traffic reports & updates on cool things to see that you don't know about yet!

Lotusland: a Santa Barbara ‘hidden gem’

The pond in the Japanese Garden at Lotusland. The private estate turned world-class gardens is one of Santa Barbara's hidden gems. (Photo Traffic411)

The pond in the Japanese Garden at Lotusland. The private estate turned world-class gardens is one of Santa Barbara’s hidden gems. (Photo Traffic411)

Earlier this year I moved to Santa Barbara. As a native Californian, I’m used to nice weather, but the beauty of nature here along the ‘South Coast’ is truly something to behold. There are many hidden gems here in Santa Barbara, which I will be blogging about in the coming weeks and months.

Lotusland is one of Santa Barbara’s finest “Hidden Gems.” The former home of the free spirited opera star and socialite Madame Ganna Walksa, this 37 acre gated estate in Montecito is a plant lover’s paradise.

Visitors can stroll through several distinct gardens, including the Blue Garden, Tropical Garden, Japanese Garden, Cactus Garden, and Succulent Garden. There’s even a Cycad Garden, filled with ancient plants.  Statues and other unique decorations adorn the gardens, all collected thorough Madame Waska’s connections and world travels.

Lotusland: A Santa Barbara Hidden Gem

Lotusland is one of Santa Barbara’s finest “Hidden Gems.” The former home of the free spirited opera star and socialite Madame Ganna Walksa, this 37 acre gated estate in Montecito is a plant lover’s paradise.

[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_lotus-pond.jpg]2420
(Photo: Lotusland)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_aloe-garden-pond-sm.jpg]170
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_cycad-cone7660.jpg]150
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_crows-2_0.jpg]140
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_centuries.jpg]240
(Photo: KenPfeiffer/ Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_lotusland-little-people-traffic411.jpg]110
(Photo: Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_dry-wreath.jpg]120
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_lanterns.jpg]90
(Photo: Lotusland)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_silent-spring-small.jpg]140
A collection of empty bird cages are art at the "Flock: Birds on the Brink" exhibit at Lotusland through May 2015. (Photo: Lotusland)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_forest.jpg]100
(Photo: Lotusland)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_cactus-reef.jpg]80
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_crows.jpg]90
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_glass-path.jpg]70
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_japanese-garden-bcsm.jpg]50
(Photo: Lotusland)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_tree-berries2015.jpg]60
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_crows-2.jpg]40
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_flowers.jpg]50
(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/lotusland-a-santa-barbara-hidden-gem/thumbs/thumbs_fountain-2015.jpg]30

Remarkably, the world class gardens at Lotusland are fully self-sustainable.  No pesticides have been used for 20 years. It cost of maintaining the gardens is $3 million dollars a year, which makes the $45 admission price for a docent-led tour understandable.

Shell pool at Lotusland (Photo: Traffic411)

Shell pool at Lotusland (Photo: Traffic411)

Because of its location in one of the area’s fanciest neighborhoods, the garden is not open year-round, and the number of visitors is limited.  But, by planning ahead and being flexible, it should be easy to book a reservation.

Related: Santa Barbara poets read their poems inspired by Flock at Lotusland

Through May 23, 2015, Lotusland is featuring a special exhibit “Flock: Birds on the Brink.” This unique exhibition features all kinds of birds in artwork.  From the rock ‘n roll themed “Flutter and Strum,” featuring small birds in a big cage, perched on an amped up electric guitar, to the campy “Put it on my Bill” diorama featuring ducks in a speakeasy bar. There’s even a chair with feather wings, which flap in sync with the breath of the person who is sitting in it.

"Murder of Crows" is one of the outdoor art exhibits (part of "Flock: Birds on the Brink") at Lotusland. (Photo Traffic411)

“Murder of Crows” is one of the outdoor art exhibits (part of “Flock: Birds on the Brink”) at Lotusland. (Photo Traffic411)

Through a generous grant program, hundreds of Santa Barbara-area fourth graders get to visit Lotusland each year. Currently, children come from as far away as Santa Maria to be treated to this one-of-a-kind garden. Lotusland truly is a Santa Barbara treasure.

Watch the video “Flying Through Lotusland”

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: If you plan to visit more than once, consider purchasing an annual pass. It’s $75 to visit as much as you want, and allows you to purchase additional guest passes at a substantial (40%) discount.

Distance from LAX: 95 miles

Share

So Cal Boat Parade of Lights

HP5A4347It’s a California holiday tradition. Rain or shine, colorful boat parades will be lighting up harbors up and down the coast almost until Santa comes down the chimney.

Most of the parades take place this weekend. So, bundle up and watch twinkling lights glowing off the water, as festively decorated boats and yachts decked out with Christmas trees, candy canes and even a Singing Santa or two make our coastline extra merry.

Parades in Dana Point and Ventura Harbor run tonight and tomorrow night ( Fri-Sat Dec. 12-13 2014). Marina del Rey and Redondo Beach host their parades Saturday night (Dec. 13). I am your friendly announcer in Burton Chace Park, in Marina del Rey (to get there, take Mindanao until it ends in the Marina).  Parking is free in the County lots, so plan to arrive early to get a spot (well before 5pm). Fireworks kick off the Marina del Rey Christmas Boat Parade at 5:55pm.

'Santa's Helpers' assist boat parade announcers  Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

‘Santa’s Helpers’ assist boat parade announcers Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

Sunday in Santa Barbara, it’s an all afternoon affair – Santa’s Village on Stearns Wharf will keep kids of all ages busy until colorful vessels parade along the breakwater.

Starting on Tuesday, December 17th, head to Orange County for the granddaddy of Southern California boat parades. Hundreds of boats and yachts are expected to participate in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which runs for five nights. This parade has been going on for more than 100 years. See Newport Harbor packed with watercraft, from kayaking Santa to dancing elves. Boat owners go all out for this parade, it’s not uncommon to see $70,000 worth of decorations lighting up each boat!

Saturday, December 21st, is the Naples Holiday Boat Parade in Long Beach. The parade starts at 6pm, but nearby streets close at 5pm, so plan to arrive early.

If you plan ahead, you might still be able to get a reservation at a waterside restaurant with a view. But, it can be just as much fun to watch the parade outdoors, it’s free and what a fun family Christmas activity!

Click here for details on the Christmas Boat Parades across the Southland.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Dress warmly – it might feel cooler than the temperature outside sitting waterside to view the parade.

 

 

Share

Wine & Art Fans Love Santa Barbara’s “2nd Saturdays”

Oreana Winery & Marketplace on Anacapa St. hosts a parking lot party during the Funk Zone Art Walk. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Oreana Winery & Marketplace on Anacapa St. hosts a parking lot party during the Funk Zone Art Walk. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Looking for a fun one-day getaway on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner? Check out “The Funk Zone Art Walk” in Santa Barbara.

It takes place on the second Saturday of every month in the ‘Funk Zone,’ a renovated industrial area that’s now home to galleries, artist lofts, wine bistros and restaurants.

The Santa Barbara Art Foundry hosted a wine reception during the Funk Zone Art Walk in August. I enjoyed looking at their artwork, including several Erte statues. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The Santa Barbara Art Foundry hosted a wine reception during the Funk Zone Art Walk in August. I enjoyed looking at their artwork, including several Erte statues. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The Art Walk features an array of unique exhibits, as well as live music, wine, craft beers and more.

When I was there in August, The Arts Fund Gallery hosted a super cool interactive exhibit called “Ruckus,” where guests could create colorful moving images using our voice and body. It was fun experiencing a gallery where you’re actually encouraged to touch the artwork 🙂

Visitors to the Funk Zone Art Walk sample boutique wines at AVA Santa Barbara. The wine bistro is a passion project of winemaker Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

Visitors to the Funk Zone Art Walk sample boutique wines at AVA Santa Barbara. The wine bistro is a passion project of winemaker Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

The Funk Zone is located just off of State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. It’s a few blocks from the beach, and a short walk from the Amtrak Station. There are plenty of restaurants, and the ‘main drag’ of State Street is nearby, so if you enjoy walking, there’s plenty of things to see.

And, since the Pacific Surfliner hugs the coast (when you get north of Camarillo), there’s plenty of pretty scenery along the way. This is a fun train adventure for wine and art lovers from Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura and San Luis Obispo.

Pali Wine Co. is one of many comfy spots in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone to relax and enjoy a favorite beverage. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Pali Wine Co. is one of many comfy spots in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone to relax and enjoy a favorite beverage. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Upcoming (2nd Saturday) Funk Zone Art Walks: September 13; October 11; November 8. Click this link for further dates & more information.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Make your Amtrak reservation in advance, trains get crowded on Art Walk Saturdays.

Distance from LAX: 96 Miles

Share

Tours: Wild Ways to See Santa Barbara

Spending spring break or summer vacation in Santa Barbara? There are some adventurous city tours you wouldn’t expect to find in this upscale stretch of Pacific coastline nicknamed the ‘American Riviera.’

Guests on the Santa Barbara Land Shark tour get to see the city by land and by sea without leaving the amphibious bus. Here's a shot of Stearn's Wharf.

Guests on the Santa Barbara Land Shark tour get to see the city by land and by sea without leaving the amphibious bus. Here’s a shot of Stearn’s Wharf.

Santa Barbara Land Shark

You’ll see Santa Barbara by land and sea without leaving your seat when you hop on the Santa Barbara Land Shark.

Your friendly tour guide will keep you entertained with fascinating facts about Santa Barbara as you glide through city streets from the beach, to the historic courthouse, the zoo and other points of interest.

Then, you’ll zoom right into the water, as your amphibious tour bus becomes a boat.  I’m not a big fan of bus tours, but the seats are comfy on this tour and Holly,the tour guide, held my attention throughout the 90 minute tour. The Land Shark is a fun tour for both Santa Barbara locals and visitors.

hot rod limo

(Photo Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo)

Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo

If you are looking for a more intimate adventure and enjoy feeling the wind whipping through your hair, take ride on Santa Barbara’s Hot Rod Limo.

Jennifer and Phil who visited Santa Barbara enjoyed their wild ride aboard the bright yellow hot rod.

“We had a tour of SB on a “Hot Rod” this 8 seater open top east long yellow bar with red painted flames up the side with a big open engine..the woman driving was playing very loud music..was absolutely nuts!”

The driver’s personality adds to the attraction. “The driver, India, really made the trip what it was.  What a character…. she just keeps laughing. God, I thought, how fabulous is that and can I have what she’s on please.”

Now narrated, Hot Rod tour was not when Jennifer & Phil took the tour last year. But Jennifer said their tour guide offered interesting facts and tidbits as she zoomed around town. “We couldn’t even hear a word of the commentary she was giving, the couple in front of us passed the commentary back to us and we’d tell the couple behind us and so on.  It was (like a game of operator)…Mad! It all added to the fun…and..you got to know the other passengers quickly.”

(Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

(Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

Santa Barbara Trolley Tour

If you’ re looking for something more mainstream, try the Santa Barbara Trolley Tour. You can see the city on board a classic trolley car.

All of these tours depart from the Stearns Wharf area. Check their websites for tour times.

Santa Barbara Tours

Spending spring break or summer vacation in Santa Barbara? There are some adventurous city tours you wouldn’t expect to find in this upscale seaside town dubbed the ‘American Riviera.’

[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_sb-landshark-tour_holly_traffic411.jpg]2310
Tour guide Holly points out sights around Santa Barbara on the Land Shark tour. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_sb-chromatic-arch_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]90
The colorful Chromatic Arch is one of the sights you'll see when you take a Santa Barbara tour (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_santa-barbara-101-sign_traffic411.jpg]60
Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf and East Beach (popular with volley ball enthusiasts) are very close to the 101 Freeway (Photo Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_kite-boarder_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]80
You might see a kite surfer or a cruise ship moored off the coast when you tour Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_sb-landshark-tour_stearnswharf_traffic411.jpg]60
Guests on board the Land Shark enjoy a bus and boat tour in one! (Photo Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_seals_sbtour_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]80
Sunbathing seals are one sight you might see on the Santa Barbara Land Shark tour (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_sb-trolley-tour_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]50
Santa Barbara Trolley Tour (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/santa-barbara-tours/thumbs/thumbs_hot-rod-limo.jpg]80
Zoom through the streets of Santa Barbara and see the hisoric Mission on a Hot Rod Limo tour (photo: Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo)

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Bring along a light sweater.  Although it’s likely to be sunny, the air can feel cool, even in the summer.

Distance from LAX: 96 miles

 


View Larger Map

Share

Santa Barbara Storm Damage

Big waves sent sailboats crashing onto East Beach in Santa Barbara, Sunday March 2, 2014. (Photo Traffic411)

Big waves sent sailboats crashing onto East Beach in Santa Barbara, Sunday March 2, 2014. (Photo Traffic411)

Southern California got a burst of wintery weather over the weekend.  The biggest storm in years brought heavy rain and thunderstorms, delivering a blow that ripped boats from their moorings, sending them crashing into piers or onto beaches.

Two Santa Barbara restaurants were seriously damaged.  Meals were interrupted when a giant wave crashed through a window at Moby Dick restaurant on Santa Barbara’s Stearn’s Wharf (watch the video below!).

 

 

The storm-fueled waves broke through tall sand berms, pushing waves several hundred feet onto beaches. Big clumps of seaweed were scattered across the volleyball courts on East Beach (Santa Barbara).

A few miles up the coast in Goleta, the manager of the Beachside Bar-Cafe was sucked out to sea when a rogue wave crashed onto the patio of the pierside restaurant. Fortunately the man got stuck under the pier and was able to get back to shore safely.  (Click here to see video of the wild weather and storm damage that shut down Goleta Beach and damaged the Beachside Bar-Cafe).

In Carpinteria, seawater and debris flowed all the way up to railroad tracks along Santa Claus Lane, sending crews out on Sunday to clear and inspect the tracks for safety.

Share