Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova’s Tips for Serving Up Fun in the ‘American Riviera’
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - See the Sights with Sharapova's Insider Tips
When planning a trip to Santa Barbara, getting insider tips from someone who knows the area well can make all the difference. And who better to turn to than tennis superstar Maria Sharapova? Though known for her prowess on the court, Sharapova is also an avid traveler who adores the 'American Riviera'.
"I try to visit Santa Barbara at least a few times a year if my schedule allows," she shared in an exclusive interview. "It's one of my favorite weekend getaways from LA."
"It's such an iconic landmark and fun to walk out to the very end. You never know what you might see - I've spotted everything from whales to sea otters!"
What else is in this post?
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - See the Sights with Sharapova's Insider Tips
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Eat Your Way Through Santa Barbara Like a Pro
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Relax in Style at Sharapova's Favorite Hotels
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Serve Up Fun with Beach Volleyball Like Maria
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Sharapova's Picks for Top Santa Barbara Activities
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Wine Taste on the Urban Wine Trail Like a Champ
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Channel Your Inner Sharapova at the Funk Zone
- Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Maria's Tips for Exploring the 'American Riviera'
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Eat Your Way Through Santa Barbara Like a Pro
Santa Barbara’s food scene has exploded in recent years, with chef-driven restaurants, fantastic seafood, and a booming urban wine trail. Sharapova loves indulging during her visits. “The restaurants in Santa Barbara are fantastic. The ingredients are so fresh and the chefs are super creative,” she told me.
For breakfast, Sharapova heads to Jeannine’s, a beloved local spot. “I always get the croque madame. It’s so decadent!” The ham, cheese, and béchamel sauce sandwiched between slices of crispy French toast is a indulgent way to start the day.
When she’s craving Mexican food, Sharapova hits up Los Agaves. “I’m obsessed with their fish tacos,” she confessed. Their batter is light and crunchy, and the cabbage and pico de gallo provide a nice fresh contrast. Sharapova also recommends the tequila cocktails.
No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without seafood. Sharapova is a big fan of the Santa Barbara Fish Market. “It's super casual but the seafood is incredible. I love sitting outside on the patio with a glass of wine and some oysters." Their locally caught fish and shellfish are about as fresh as it gets.
For a fun, lively dinner, Sharapova suggests checking out The Lark. “They have an awesome sharable menu with different small plates so you can try a bunch of things," she said. Creative dishes like squid ink spaghetti and smoked duck breast with mole highlight the chef's inventive approach.
When she’s in the mood for Italian, Sharapova makes a reservation at Trattoria Mollie. “They have a great outdoor patio and make the best pasta in town. I always go for the pappardelle bolognese.” The handmade pasta is cooked perfectly al dente.
No indulgent weekend escape is complete without dessert. “I have the biggest sweet tooth so I love trying all the bakeries and chocolate shops in Santa Barbara,” Sharapova confessed. Some of her favorites include Chocolate Maya, with their incredible handmade bonbons, and Crushcakes & Café, where the cupcakes are irresistible.
The urban wine trail is another one of Sharapova’s go-to activities. “I love spending an afternoon hopping between tasting rooms, especially in the Funk Zone. The wines are excellent." Top stops include Riverbench Winery, known for their pinot noirs, and Municipal Winemakers, where she recommends the funky skin-contact white wines.
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Relax in Style at Sharapova's Favorite Hotels
After a day of exploring Santa Barbara, Sharapova likes to unwind at one of her favorite luxury hotels. "I’m definitely a resort girl at heart. I love staying at nice hotels with beautiful grounds, great pools, and top-notch service,” she told me.
At the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Sharapova feels like royalty. “The grounds are just gorgeous, with these stunning Spanish-style buildings, impeccable landscaping, and views of the ocean.” Guest rooms exude California elegance with private balconies, elegant furnishings, and lavish marble bathrooms. Sharapova loves lazing by the adults-only pool or indulging in a relaxing spa treatment. “Their massages are heavenly. I always leave feeling completely rejuvenated,” she said.
For a charming boutique stay, Sharapova checks into the Belmond El Encanto. “It’s like being transported back in time. The whole property is so romantic and peaceful.” The Mediterranean-style villas are tucked among lush gardens with secluded terraces and fireplaces creating a serene ambiance. “I love sitting on my private patio in the morning, having coffee and just looking out at the stunning views,” she told me. Don’t miss cocktails at the Riviera Terrace at sunset, one of Sharapova’s favorite rituals.
At the Rosewood Miramar Beach, Sharapova enjoys the laidback beach vibe. “The suites are gorgeous and I love being right on the beach. You really feel like you’re in your own private beach house.” Aside from the stylish accommodations, highlights include the Manor House with its living room fireplace and outdoor soaking tubs. Sharapova also recommends indulging at the Sense spa. “Get the aromatherapy massage – it’s pure bliss.”
For a uniquely Santa Barbara stay, Sharapova books one of the bungalows at San Ysidro Ranch. “The property is just breathtaking, tucked into the mountains with garden paths, fountains, and beautiful landscaping everywhere you look.” The charming bungalows exude romance with chandeliers, antiques, stone fireplaces and picturesque private patios. “It feels so secluded and peaceful. I love curling up on the patio with a glass of local wine in the evenings just listening to the sounds of nature.” Be sure to dine at the acclaimed Stonehouse restaurant on site.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is also a favorite for its stunning natural setting. “I love starting the day with a beachfront yoga class and then having breakfast on the patio overlooking the ocean.” The resort has Spanish-style architecture, three zero-edge pools, and a 42,000 square foot spa. Endless amenities ensure total relaxation. “I get the best sleep there - the beds are so comfortable,” Sharapova told me.
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Serve Up Fun with Beach Volleyball Like Maria
Santa Barbara boasts miles of spectacular beaches, and Sharapova loves taking advantage by getting her beach volleyball game on. “The wide open beaches with the mountains right there in the background make such a gorgeous setting for playing volleyball," she told me.
East Beach is Sharapova's favorite for spiking and diving in the sand. “It has well-maintained courts and I love the lively atmosphere there with people hanging out and playing music.” She recommends checking out the East Beach Grass Courts on Cabrillo Boulevard which host competitive local tournaments. Or hit up East Beach itself to join pick up games.
"I try to play as often as I can when I’m in Santa Barbara,” Sharapova confessed. “It’s such a fun way to enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise in this incredible setting.” She loves the heart-pumping cardio workout and the adrenaline rush of competitive play. Sharapova notes that volleyball skills definitely translate from the tennis court. “My hand-eye coordination helps with bumping and setting. And I can really pound down spikes thanks to my powerful tennis swing!” she said.
Fellow traveler Jay D. is also an avid beach volleyball enthusiast who makes a point of bringing his ball and getting a game going whenever he visits Santa Barbara. “It's just an iconic California thing to do - play beach volleyball with the waves crashing in the background and the sun on your back,” he said.
Jay recommends checking out Butterfly Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach for fewer crowds if you prefer a more laidback game. The courts at Leadbetter Beach near the harbor are another good option protected from wind by the cliffs. “Santa Barbara is beach volleyball nirvana. I've played everywhere from San Diego to Santa Monica and this is by far my favorite spot.”
Malia S. grew up playing competitive beach volleyball before becoming a travel writer. When visiting Santa Barbara, she immediately seeks out East Beach. "The courts are perfectly maintained and there's a great vibe. The college kids keep the level of play pretty high so it's fun and challenging."
She echoes Sharapova's advice to just ask around if you see players already on the courts. "Beach volleyball folks are super friendly. Just be respectful if people are in the middle of tournament games and wait for an opening. But in my experience, you'll always find someone welcoming to hop in for a friendly match."
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Sharapova's Picks for Top Santa Barbara Activities
As an elite athlete and avid traveler, Sharapova knows how to make the most of her leisure time in Santa Barbara. When I asked about her top activity recommendations, she had plenty of insider tips to share.
“I'm pretty active by nature so I really enjoy Santa Barbara's incredible recreation options," Sharapova told me. "There are so many ways to get your heart pumping while surrounded by stunning scenery."
Topping her list are the hiking trails in the Santa Ynez Mountains behind the city. "I love getting out into nature and the views are just gorgeous up there," she said. Her favorite hike is the Inspiration Point Trail. "It’s a great workout with over 700 feet of elevation gain, and you end up high above the city with panoramic views of the coast." Just be sure to go early before the day heats up.
For cycling enthusiasts, Sharapova recommends the waterfront bike path stretching from Leadbetter Beach to the harbor. "It's such a scenic ride along the coast. I like stopping at the different beaches along the way." She suggests renting a cruiser bike and packing a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the beaches.
Golfers visiting Santa Barbara should tee up at storied courses like Sandpiper or Glen Annie built right into the hillsides. "The ocean views are incredible and the courses are always in perfect condition," said Sharapova. She advises reserving well in advance as tee times book up quickly.
For a more relaxing outdoor option, Sharapova is a fan of stand up paddleboarding (SUP). "It's such a fun way to enjoy the ocean views. I like paddling out from Arroyo Burro Beach." Lessons and rentals are available from outfitters like Paddle Sports Center. She recommends going early to beat the wind.
To soak up some culture, Sharapova suggests visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Art located right downtown. "They have an awesome permanent collection, from ancient art to contemporary pieces," she told me. Sharapova is particularly fond of the Asian art wing. Docent-led tours provide fascinating art insights.
Architecture buffs will appreciate the variety of styles on display, from Spanish Colonial to Craftsman bungalows. "I love just walking around different neighborhoods and admiring all the charming homes," said Sharapova. A self-guided tour map covering favorites like the El Encanto Heights Historic District is available from the visitor's bureau.
For insight into Santa Barbara's rich history, Sharapova recommends the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. "It's housed in this beautiful old adobe building and really transports you back in time." Exhibits cover everything from the area's Native American roots to the modern art scene. Ask about their historical walking tours for the ultimate insider experience.
To experience the city's vibrant performing arts culture, Sharapova suggests catching a show at the historic Arlington Theatre or Lobero Theatre downtown. "World-class musicians, Broadway tours, ballet - there's always something exciting coming through. And the theaters are stunning." Sharapova has front row tickets to Yo-Yo Ma at the Lobero on her Santa Barbara bucket list.
Sharapova loves how easy it is to get out on the water in Santa Barbara. "Whether it's kayaking, sailing, or just relaxing on a boat cruise, being out on the ocean with the beautiful coastline all around you is pretty magical," she told me. Her top choice is an evening sail at sunset. "It's so romantic watching the sun dip into the water as you take in the view of the city lights. Definitely pack a jacket though - it gets breezy!"
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Wine Taste on the Urban Wine Trail Like a Champ
Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail offers the perfect activity for oenophiles to sip their way through the area’s top tasting rooms. “I love spending an afternoon hopping between the different wine tasting venues, especially in the Funk Zone,” Sharapova told me. “The tasting rooms are so unique and funky, and you can try an amazing range of varietals."
Sharapova recommends starting your Urban Wine Trail exploration at Riverbench Winery, her favorite for their excellent Pinot Noirs. Their expansive garden patio provides a relaxing place to swirl your first sips. She suggests the single vineyard select Pinot Noir for a treat. “Riverbench really showcases the best of Santa Barbara Pinot,” Sharapova said.
Next, head to Municipal Winemakers, known for their skin contact white wines. “They do super interesting things with varietals like Santa Barbara County Sauvignon Blanc. The tasting room has a very hip, casual vibe,” noted Sharapova. Grab a spot at one of their communal tables and be sure to sample fan-favorite 'Stained Teeth' Orange Wine.
Cutting-edge winemaking is also on display at Frequency Wines, Sharapova’s pick for the most unique tasting experience. “The owner is pushing all kinds of boundaries. I like tasting through their whole lineup to see the different flavors they’ve created,” she said. Their Akasha Rose Pet Nat brings beautiful berry flavors with a refreshing bubbly finish.
Sharapova loves the laidback, artistic ambiance of Corks n’ Crowns. “It has more of a neighborhood wine bar feel. Order some tapas and gather at a big farm table,” she suggests. Their diverse wine list shines a spotlight on small production Santa Barbara County wineries. Sharapova goes for their Grenache blend.
At Carr Winery, an urban winery and vineyard right in downtown Santa Barbara, Sharapova enjoys sipping wines straight from the source. “It’s so cool tasting wines while looking out at the actual vines they came from.” She recommends grabbing a glass of their Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay and meandering through the vineyard.
To sample more urban winemaking, Sharapova heads to Holus Bolus Wines, conveniently located right on the main drag. She loves their constantly changing lineup of eclectic wines. “They work with tons of tiny producers. You never know what gems you might discover.” Sharapova's last finds included a fantastic Santa Ynez Valley Mourvedre and an intriguing Condrieu-style white blend.
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Channel Your Inner Sharapova at the Funk Zone
Tucked away in Santa Barbara’s eclectic Funk Zone neighborhood, you’ll find an incredible concentration of Urban Wine Trail tasting rooms, craft breweries, chic eateries, and art galleries—making it the ideal spot to channel your inner Sharapova.
“I love spending entire afternoons just wandering around the Funk Zone, popping into the different tasting rooms and little boutiques. There’s always something new to discover,” Sharapova told me. This revitalized warehouse district perfectly blends industrial edge with a laidback beach vibe.
At Brass Bear Brewing, Sharapova suggests grabbing a flight of their craft brews in the minimalist-chic taproom accented with—you guessed it—brass bear statues. “Their Horizon Hazy IPA is my go-to. It’s refreshing but not too bitter,” she said. Outdoor seating beckons on sunny days.
For a more upscale vibe, Sharapova recommends dinner and drinks at the new Casa Del Mar restaurant situated right on the water. She favors a window seat for sunset watching. “Order a round of oysters and a glass of their Santa Barbara Chardonnay. Or try one of their awesome craft cocktails like the blood orange margarita.”
No visit to the Funk Zone is complete without taco pit stop at Los Arroyos Cantina, an ultra-casual local favorite. “I’m obsessed with their fish tacos,” confessed Sharapova. Lively crowds spill out onto their patio strung with festive lights.
To soak up some true bohemian Funk Zone flavor, Sharapova suggests dropping into the quirky ParADise Cafe. “It’s total Santa Barbara,” she said. Their eclectic decor and locally sourced, vegetarian-friendly eats draw quite the artsy crowd. Sharapova recommends their Moroccan lentil soup and homemade gingerbread.
At Sauce and Stones Empanadas, Sharapova satisfies her snack cravings with their mouthwatering empanadas. “I usually can’t decide between the sweet and savory flavors so I just get both!” she confessed. Pair them with a glass of Argentine Malbec.
For a refined cocktail experience, Sharapova slips into Good Lion. She loves their extensive mezcal and tequila selection. “Their cocktails are so creative. I’m partial to the smoked honey paloma with grapefruit and spice,” she told me. Sleek leather couches add to the speakeasy vibe.
To fully immerse yourself in Santa Barbara’s thriving arts scene, Sharapova suggests a visit to the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative gallery. Rotating exhibits feature works from over 60 local artists. Sharapova looks for one-of-a-kind paintings or photographs to commemorate her trips.
Funk Zone favorite Area 5.1 also attracts Sharapova with their modern art shows, indie films, and community events. “It’s just a great way to tap into Santa Barbara’s creative energy,” she said. The warehouse space epitomizes Funk Zone chic.
Ace Your Santa Barbara Getaway: Maria Sharapova's Tips for Serving Up Fun in the 'American Riviera' - Maria's Tips for Exploring the 'American Riviera'
Santa Barbara's picturesque setting between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean has earned it the nickname 'American Riviera'. Exploring this beautiful stretch of coastline lets you experience the best of this iconic destination through Sharapova’s favorite activities.
Kayaking or stand up paddleboarding along the coast grants a unique vantage point of Santa Barbara’s beaches, rugged cliffs, and regal mansions dotting the hillsides. Glide your paddle along butterfly Beach to spot opulent estates that rival the French Riviera's best. For a peaceful paddle, head to Arroyo Burro Beach where you can dip into sea caves as the mountains loom behind you. More adventurous souls can paddle out to the Channel Islands for an overnight camping trip surrounded by wildlife galore.
Serious hikers adore the trek to Santa Ynez Falls in the Los Padres National Forest behind Santa Barbara. This strenuous 6-mile roundtrip climbs over 1500 feet into sylvan paradise to reach the epic 150-foot cascades. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top as you soak in panoramic vistas over the entire coastline shimmering below. Early risers are rewarded at Inspiration Point where the sunrise colors the city in a golden glow best appreciated from this elevated vantage.
Cycling the winding mountain roads above Santa Barbara rewards with nonstop ocean views at every hairpin turn. Tackle the 10-mile ride up scenic Gibraltar Road to reach the historic Cold Spring Tavern, a perfect pitstop for tri-tip sandwiches and local brews on their patio before coasting back down. For a family-friendly option, cruise Shoreline Park's scenic bike trail stretching three miles along the coast. Stop at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens to wander amid the dazzling floral displays.
Kayak or SUP over to the rugged Santa Cruz Island for camping under starry skies with only horned owls and coyotes for company. Pack scuba gear to explore the island's incredible kelp forests and sea caves teeming with bright anemones and garibaldi fish. Rise early to hike up its windswept hills and watch gray whales migrate along the coast as the waves crash below.
For indulgence, charter a sunset sail and watch the city lights twinkle on as you glide across the harbor sipping local bubbly. Feel the sea breeze in your hair as you pass Stearns Wharf and the American Riviera coastline stretches before you.