The Secret Garden Inn

By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer

The Secret Garden Inn
One of Santa Barbara's Greatest Bed & Breakfasts

One of the best weekend jaunts from Los Angeles is beautiful Santa Barbara, CA.  If there isn’t any traffic, and there never is in Los Angeles, the drive up the 101 will take you just about an hour.  Once you arrive it is sunny days and fun all around.  A couple of years back my lady and I became enamored with Bed & Breakfasts, and Santa Barbara has some of the best around.  We stayed at the Secret Garden Inn this time, a great B & B within walking distance of State Street.  The owner is a wonderfully nice proprietor named Dominique Hannaux, and she is from France and does a great job making you feel right at home.  In fact, in the main room hangs some of her paintings, and believe me, it will inspire you to paint.  At the very least, you will want to break out the easel and recreate the Santa Barbara sunset, or some bush you saw at the botanical gardens.

Our room was more of a cottage, with our very own Jacuzzi on the backyard patio.  It was absolutely lovely and extremely private.  After a tough day of golfing at Glen Annie, my travel companion and I opted for a long soak, and it was just what the doctor ordered.  Our cottage also had a fireplace, so after the therapeutic spa session we had some of Santa Barbara’s finest wine and discussed our next day plans.

There is so much to do in Santa Barbara, so going up for just one weekend will not give you enough time, so of course you will have to come back and visit again.  The grounds and the property at the Secret Garden Inn are gorgeous, and if you decide to just sit outside on the patio and read a book, that would be ideal as well.  As part of our trip up there, we did just that, enjoying coffee and tea while watching the bees buzz and the hummingbirds dart around from the beautiful blooming flowers.  However, the weather is always so nice in Santa Barbara, so that could only last so long without wanting to get up and go.

The mission in town is not to be missed, she has been crowned “Queen Of The Missions” – and once you see her, you will understand why.  There is also a top notch Natural History Museum right by the mission, and some of the exhibits in there are downright cool.  They also have a fully put together whale bone skeleton, and boy are those marine mammals large.

The great thing about staying at B & B’s is they cook you breakfast.  How wonderful is it to not have to worry about that?  And it almost always comes with the price of the room.  Well the nice lady that runs the Secret Garden Inn must have brought some really good recipes with her from France, because the breakfast is excellent.  We had a fantastic broccoli quiche which surprised me at first, because one does not think of broccoli as breakfast food.  The toast and muffins were delicious, and it was the perfect start to the day to give you enough energy to go tackle all the fun in Santa Barbara.

If you have the time, and I suggest you make the time, definitely take a trip on a boat.  There are a variety of companies to choose from depending on what you want to do.  We went whale watching on one trip, and went out well past San Miguel and the other Channel Islands.  That trip was about 5 hours long, and we saw all sorts of marine mammals, including a Mega-Pod of dolphins.  There must have been 100,000 of them; it is something I will always remember.  We also took the time to go out on a sunset cruise.  We filmed it so we could show my family.  Actually the hours and hours of footage have yet to be viewed, maybe at Thanksgiving.  There are also charter boats for sport fishing in Santa Barbara, definitely look into it.

(Additional Information on The Secret Garden Inn & Cottages in Santa Barbara, CA is available online at  Secluded behind high hedges, hidden pathways and romantic gardens, lies the Secret Garden Inn & Cottages.  Originally built for a large family in 1905, then renovated and opened as the Blue Quail in 1980, it is now owned and run by Dominique Hannaux.  Each guest room and cottage is lovingly furnished.  Clawfooted antique baths enhance all the bathrooms which have modern shower attachments for your comfort and convenience.  Indulge in a leisurely breakfast in bed, in the privacy of your garden patio or beneath the lacey intertwined branches of the persimmon and avocado trees.  On cooler mornings the dining room provides a more cozy setting.   The Secret Garden Inn is located at 1908 Bath Street in Santa Barbara, CA.  To inquire about staying at the Secret Garden Inn, please call 805-687-2300.)


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