We're going up there in October. I understand that it's a wonderful venue. Santa Barbara is always fun and relaxing...once you GET there!
There are some local wineries, and Solvang is a quaint little nearby Danish settlement worth a visit. If you're up for a bit of a drive, Hearst Castle is worth a visit, but it's a whole day. Santa Ynez Mission is a good example of the El Camino Real missions if you're interested. Might want to go over to the Cold Springs Tavern, an old stagecoach stop that has been continued on as a tavern and an interesting restaruant.
Other'n that, have fun and relax.
Santa Barbara is OK, but if you have the time drive north to the great towns of San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Both are neat little towns--SLO is home to Cal Poly, but Paso Robles is a fascinating wine venue--there is a Marriott Courtyard there near most of the wineries. Paso Robles has great wines, and most are reasonably priced.
Some of our favorites:
Tobin James Winery, just East of US 101 on CA 46 is a fantastic little (or not so little) place with no rules in the tasting room--except to have fun! Good snacks too!
Wild Coyote Vineyard and Tasting Room is a little harder to find, but also great.
Jada Vineyards is top flight and expensive but the wines are spectacular.
Paso Robles has interesting microclimates and a good small town feel (still). Worth a day trip for sure from the Santa Ynez Marriott (in Buellton as I recall).
You are also not far (when in Paso) from Hearst Castle, just west along Highway 46 to State Route 1, in San Simeon. The Imax there is great as is the castle tour. It can be sunny and hot--wear a hat!
It's a beautiful area that I visited 2 years ago and am heading back to in early October. The wineries are the top destination in the area - my two favorites are Fess Parker and Rideau. FP is owned by, you guessed it, Daniel Boone! It's a Winery, Inn, Restaurant, and Spa. What a fabulous place to stay - we're splitting our time between the SY Marriott and the FP Inn. Rideau is a wonderful, small vineyard owned by a lady from New Orleans who has been there for over 20 years. Their Rose' is one of my all-time favorite wines. Check out Solvang for a unique stop on your trip - it's a Scandinavian village in SoCal. Some good shopping and interesting food. Speaking of food, try the Hitching Post in the area. A great restaurant featured in the movie Sideways that I saw on either the Travel or Food channel. Santa Barbara is only about a half-hour away and has a few places to see. The Mission is easily my favorite. Enjoy your visit like this New Orleans traveler has.
My wife and I came to visit Solvang and stayed in the Santa Ynez Marriot and had such a wonderful experience. I loved the staff and the breakfast was awesome. The staff treated you like family. Very respectful and professional staff in the restaurant... Lalo, the person in charge of making the omeletts did an awesome job... I asked for Huevos Rancheros (thinking that he was gonna say no) & my wife for an omelette and they were both delicious!!! Salvador & Martha also did great as our waitress... 5 stars for the staff, service & food!!!