santa barbara pier

This past weekend was my golden birthday–26 on the 26th! I was feeling all sorry for myself and terribly missing Paris so when my mom asked what I wanted to do to celebrate, I was disgruntled and gave little suggestions. Being the person she is, my mom decided to take it upon herself (with the help of the awesome bf and dad) to plan something fabulous. The result: taking the train to Santa Barbara for a little wine tasting adventure.

pacific surfliner

Trains. Wine. Cheese. My favorite people.

I was stoked and I absolutely love taking the Pacific Surfliner. Being on the train makes me remember my travel days in Europe and you never can go wrong with the stunning coast by your side. We scored a table on the train and were able to spread our cheese and bottles of wine out. I highly recommend making at least one meal a every so often a feast on cheese, snacks, and wine. No, not healthy. But definitely makes me happy.


We were pretty buzzed by the time we got to Santa Barbara. This is what I will blame for the day flying by us. After taking in the sights on the pier and grabbing an appetizer, we decided to continue drinking (can’t go wrong with that plan!). We stopped at a couple wineries, one of them being Oreana.


The day was sunny and warm so the outside patio was filled with people. The inside was slightly easier to find seating but still quite packed. For $10, you get 6 tastes which is very reasonable as far as wine tasting goes. While I wasn’t too impressed with the wine and didn’t end up purchasing anything, the staff was very friendly and educated so I will give them a shout out.


After, we decided getting food in our bellies would be a good choice so we headed to The Lark. Based on several locals’ recommendations, it seems The Lark has become sort of a staple in Santa Barbara. This restaurant follows the trend of the farm-to-table approach and locally grown food. Their meals are intended to be shared and are served family style. The Lark’s craft cocktails and seasonal food works well in the unique vintage atmosphere, which is sprinkled with re-purposed furniture to create the 130-seat dining area.

I was impressed. Mind you restaurants like these are right up my alley, but The Lark does a wonderful job creating innovative dishes with fresh and local flavors. Instead of rolls or bread being served on the table, you will get a basket of orange-zested and herb seasoned popcorn. Coming from someone who despises popcorn, I was shocked when I kept going back for more handfuls. I liked the creativity of the dishes and love family style–I get to try more!

santa barbara

As dinner was coming to a close we realized our train’s departure time was in about 15 minutes. Unfortunately rushing out of there did no good because our train was delayed… for 6 hours.


There goes the lovely little birthday story into another one of my train mishaps. And while I would love to tell Amtrak how I really feel… I will refrain for the sake of putting all of you in an awful mood. Instead I will tell you the important thing to take from this is although sitting at a train station as a hangover is setting in can be quite tortuous, when you are surrounded by those you love you can make the most of it. It will be a story we will laugh about one day… in the distant future.


Do you have a story about the Pacific Surfliner or wine tasting in Santa Barbara? Share below!

3 thoughts on “On the Train to Santa Barbara

  • Gale

    Thank you for letting me re-live the memory of Santa Barbara. You are an incredible writer and photographer. Keep up the excellent work Sweetie! I am so proud of you.

    • Coco Marie

      Thanks for letting me have the memory of SB in the first place! And for your kind words!

  • Curtis

    This truly is a great advertisement for Santa Barbara and AMTRAK, despite the unbelieveably long delay! This a testament to your writing and your positive perspective. Good job!

    This is definitely a fun trip. The train ride up was awesome. The weather perfect. The company was excellent! Food, wine, fun! The train delay definitely put a damper on things, Coco, and everyone else, seemed to take this in stride; me, not so much! This is a story, I can only hope and pray, gets better with time. Supposedly, the formula for comedy is Tragedy + Time; well this definitely wasn’t a tragedy (unless you were the unfortunate ones in the train station as I ranted) and the time element may be very, very long – perhaps this story will be hilarious when Coco tells it to her grandkids!

    I was wrong. This was Coco’s birthday celebration and I should have remained focused on Coco and her enjoyment, but I went off track (no pun intended!) – Sorry Coco! I also apologize to my fellow travelling companions, friends and family, as well as all the strangers in the train station.



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