Literally and figuratively, Milpas Street is on the far side of town from Santa Barbara's upscale State Street shopping neighborhood. On Milpas, you'll find useful things for everyday people ― from the famed fresh tamales at La Super-Rica to old vinyl records.
The street runs from the Santa Barbara Bowl amphitheater through a largely Latino neighborhood and ends at a wide, white beach bordered by swaying palms.
Milpas Street is on Santa Barbara's east side. From U.S. 101, take the Milpas Street exit.
What to do
East Beach: Winter temperatures in the mid-60s are perfect for biking along the beach's paved path. Milpas Street at Cabrillo Boulevard; parking is adjacent.
American Pie Records: A "Vast Vault o' Vinyl" with 60,000 records, mainly '50s and '60s LPs, including a rare $1,250 Platters original. Info: Mon-Sat; 614 N. Milpas; 805/965-2161.
Centro Musical de Santa Barbara: Warmhearted Maria Perez has served the neighborhood for 25 years with "a little of everything," from cowboy hats to comic books to saints holy cards for Sunday Mass. Info: 514 N. Milpas; 805/962-2785.
Steven Handelman Studios: Ornamental iron lighting, fireplace screens, and home accessories. Info: Mon-Sat; 716 N. Milpas; 805/962-5119.
Tri-County Produce: Open-front warehouse offering local produce and staples (including more than 20 types of granola). Info: 335 S. Milpas; 805/965-4558.
The Habit Burger Grill: Hit this popular joint and indulge in its addicting Charburger ― along with a milkshake and onion rings. Info: 216 S. Milpas; 805/962-7472.
La Super-Rica Taquería: The taco shack usually has a line outside, so come early. Maria Perez of Centro Musical recommends number 16: the Super-Rica Especial, with poblano chiles, cheese, and marinated pork, chicken, or beef, served on corn tortillas. Info: $; Thu-Tue; 622 N. Milpas; 805/963-4940.
Well located directly across from East Beach, Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort (360 rooms from $225; 805/564-4333) is a large Mediterranean-style hotel set among the palm trees. The red tile roof, gushing fountains, and arched walkways are all very Santa Barbara. There are also tennis courts and a heated pool.
For families planning to stretch out a vacation in Santa Barbara to a week or more, Villa Elegante Vacation Rentals (from $1,600 per week; 805/565-4459) are a great bet. Spotless 2- and 3-bedroom apartments are in a quiet location just off Milpas, one block from the beach. Built in 1997, the apartments are in a classic Mediterranean style and boast full kitchens and fireplaces.