#27 – A Real Watering-Hole – The Cold Springs Tavern



After checking out the Painted caves, you can continue on the road you are on through the actual town of Painted Cave at the top of the mountain. Keep following the road and when you get tot he T make a left. This road will then bring you back up to the 154. When you hit the 154 make a right and continue about 1/2 a mile. There is only one place you can turn left at before you hit the Cold Springs Canyon Bridge. Make a left onto Stagecoach Road following it towards the right. There is a sign there showing the eight way to go.


Once you navigate a few more sharp turns with an amazing view of the bridge on your right, you will find the tavern tucked back in the corner of the canyon. The building was originally built in 1886 as a stop for Stage Coaches traveling across the Santa Ynez Mountain Range, often exchanging horses or repairing buggies to make it the rest of the way over the mountains. The structures have not been changed and only been repaired when necessary, bringing you back in time the minute you step foots onto the property. Now on a Tuesday, the place doesn’t look that exciting, but if you make you way up here on a Sat or Sun in the summer time, you are in for a fun time, as well as a heaven for people watching. The mixture of culture and personalities is matched by few other places in the world. The tavern is a stop on almost every bike tour heading along the California coast so you are likely to see about 100 or so motorcycles upon arrival. There is always someone revving up a motor, or showing off their rides in some other hot shot way. Along with the bikers are the international tourists, US Travelers, city folks, farmers locals and every other kind of person you can imagine. The place usually has a live band, often something folky or into the classic rock direction to entertain drunken dancers, occasionally  joined by someone whose liquid courage has encouraged them to try and take over the microphone. The bad part is, you dont want to be driving on the 154 when all these people are leaving … Bring a DD.

Along with the booze which are flowing freely, the weekend bring THE TRI-TIP SANDWICH. It’s the best one iv’e ever had. Along with the fresh bun and hefty serving of meat comes an array of sauces, my favorite being the wasabi mayo. They are 8 bucks but well worth it. 1 will fill you up, but given that you might end up being here all day, i’ve gone through 2 or 3.

If you are making this trip on a weekday, you will likely find the place quiet and empty, perfect for a romantic meal or a family outing in their highly acclaimed restaurant, which serves a variety of game and the kind of comfort food you would hope to find when dining in a ~130 year old tavern in the middle of the woods. Trust me, its amazing !

The main entrance to the restaurant is located in the center of the image. There is another separate building to the left, which opens as a bar on the weekends. click on the photo to see their website.

This is the old Buggy Shop where you can get repairs done and switch out your cavallos

The old jail doesn’t look like much, but then again, there was no where to run anyway.


#25 – The Gaviota Hot Springs


So you are in Santa Barbara and you’ve just finished a day of wine tasting, what better way to continue the great day into the night then by taking a small hike to a hidden jacuzzi. Although if you choose to take the longer hike to the spring, this can easily be more like a half day trip, you can also take the .5 mile uphill trail that leads straight to the Hot Spring. The first time i came here i was really disappointed at first  because i failed to walk up to where the actual pool was, stopping at the pit of mud and sulfur that lies just below it. The smell was morbid and it didn’t look as though anyone would dare bath in these waters. After checking around a bit further I saw the pool up above eye level, just a few steps uphill. The water is almost pitch black, and looks like oil at first glance. On one side, the “tub” is engulfed by a HUGE Poison Oak Bush, so if you are alergic, i don’t recommend getting into the water, because even though i wasn’t burnt, i felt a little itchy after getting out of the water. There is bound to be some sort of the chemical that cause the rashes on those of us who are allergic, dissolved into the pool. But i was on a mission to get into the spring so i did. It wasn’t hot, which is rather unappealing when you think about the amount of other people that may have sat in these bathtub like lukewarm waters. I am sure that bacteria were in a frenzy and i can only hope that sulfur is some sort of an antibacterial agent. After being in the water for about 5 minutes i was done. I decided to shoot some photos, the original reason that i came here with some acquaintances. Although it wasn’t my shoot my friend didn’t mind me shooting off a few and seeing what i saw. They turned out pretty cool and he was able to get in the pool a little himself.

Overall i give this 3 out of 5 stars. The reason is that the tub just isn’t hot enough to make the steep uphill walk to it worth doing on a full-moon lit night, the setting which is most romanticized by hot spring fans. If you are going more for the hiking, then its definitely a cool spot to check out. The longer trail take you all the way around the mountain making for a good 5 mile, varied terrain hike. At some part you can’t even see the path, or maybe we lost the main path, but we were able to cut some brush out of the way with the machete we had brought. I recommend you do so too, just in case you want to clear the way for the fellow coming behind you.

Gaviota Hot SpringGaviota Hot Spring sulfur streamGaviota Hot SpringGaviota Hot Spring, aloe


The Gaviota Hot Springs, plural although there is only one pool that is accessible, lies in the mountains just off the intersection of 101 and 1. If you are coming on the 101 north you just get off of the 1, go right and follow it back along the freeway until you see a small parking lot with a collections box that asks for your honesty and $2 bucks for maintaining the path. I’m positive that a lot of people just ignore this, but I usually pay it because i feel like it is the least i can do to give back to the land i am enjoying.


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