Monday, August 11, 2014

A day in Santa Barbara... The Santa Barbara Mission, Crushcakes Cafe and The Lucky Llama

Left alone in Santa Barbara for a couple of days, what're a Mom and daughter to do??  Why eat, shop and take in the local sights, of course!  Dropping my son at UCSB for orientation, Liv and I made the quaint Upham Hotel (see our review) our home base and took on the town.

Centrally located and just a block and a half off of State Street, the Upham allowed us to leave the car and simply get out and walk.  With camera in hand we set out for our first stop of the day, the Mission Santa Barbara.

The Queen of Missions - Santa Barbara
Growing up in California, all students learn about the 21 Missions that make up a series of religious and military outposts established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1823.  In 5th grade each student is assigned a single mission to study, and some 35 years ago the Mission Santa Barbara was my mission.

Making a field trip out of the project, my dad took me and my family from our Northern California home down to Santa Barbara so I could see my mission in person, and then we returned home to build a replica out of sugar cubes.

Today, more than 200 years after its establishment, the Santa Barbara Mission continues to be a cultural and historical site.  A beautiful church with a large and active parish, the mission also hosts a museum, gift shop, cemetery, mausoleum, and ten acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.  Known as the Queen of Missions, the Santa Barbara Mission is well worth a visit when you are in town.

For a complete history of the Mission visit the 

Hungry after our trek to and around the Mission, Liv surprised me with a restaurant suggestion.  Not one to usually research ahead of time, my interest piqued as she described a cafe "that I know you will love Mom... I read about organic salads and awesome wraps.  I think it's going to be great!".

After about a 10 minute walk through the lovely streets of Santa Barbara we found Liv's cafe suggestion.  Crushcakes Cafe, that is.  Now fully understanding her interest, I smiled at she explained she had seen Crushcakes on Foodnetwork's Cupcake Wars and it seemed to be a must try.  She was right.

Walking through the decadent cupcake shop we made our way to the cafe (lunch before dessert...), where Crushcakes features locally grown produce - indeed organic when possible.  Serving breakfast all day, the Peace, Love and Granola (vanilla bean yogurt topped with our homemade granola, sliced bananas, strawberries and honey drizzle) caught my eye, but so did the offerings of organic scrambles and breakfast burritos.

Crushcakes and Cafe (Get the coconut!!!)
The lunch menu covers soups, salads, grilled paninis, wraps and house specials like Chicken Ranch Quesadillas or Rosie's Tacos.  I'll admit I wish we had time for two meals, but as we had just finished a full breakfast, the Animal Lover Salad did the trick for me (mixed greens, roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, roasted peppers
toasted pumpkin seeds, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, homemade vinaigrette)
and Liv stuck with the Turkey Club Wrap and could only finish half before proclaiming herself beyond satiated.  After all, we needed to save room for cupcakes.

And save room we did.  Entering the bakery the names of the cupcakes alone made us want one of each (Strawberry Blush, anyone??  Or perhaps a Lemon Drop or Chocolate Bliss??), but we settled for one each - might I just interject here that the Coconut Cloud is one of the best cupcakes I've ever had - and took a set of 4 for the road.  Let's just say that Crushcakes has earned a rating of "must visit" when in Santa Barbara in our book.  #awesomeness

Our last adventure the next morning took us to Carpenteria... just about 10 minutes from Santa Barbara (South on the 101), Liv and I had a tip from one of her girlfriends about The Lucky Llama, and will most likely we'll be making this a regular stop as we hit the road back to San Deigo on future trips.

The Lucky Llama - Carpenteria, CA
Featuring Acai and Breakfast Bowls, the Lucky Llama also serves a fabulous line of coffee drinks that I'm certain is going to take a number of visits so I can try them all.

Choosing an Avocado Bowl (acai blended with avo and banana then topped with more banana, strawberries and some of the best granola I've ever had) and a Mango Bowl (same as avo only with mango - this one was our favorite), we found ourselves perfectly fueled to return trip to UCSB to pick up my son from orientation.

Mango and Avocado Acai Bowls to go...
While Liv has another few years before she needs to make her own college decision, our few days in Santa Barbara did a lot to make her feel at home in the town, and I have a feeling UCSB will be high on her college interest list.

A walk through the campus and visit to the bookstore gave her a taste of college life, then a trek into Isla Vista brought an even bigger surprise.  What was the first restaurant to catch here eye?  Why another Crushcakes Cafe, of course.  UCSB now seems like home.

Storke Tower... University of California at Santa Barbara


  1. I love Santa Barbara but it's been way too long since I've visited. Your post is making me want to go back soon! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Your comments make our hearts sing!