There are no bad days allowed in Santa Barbara. After a few months of sniffing and scratching around this beach town with mountains, I am certain it is both a dog and human nirvana, making it all the sweeter of a paradise for a couple of canines from Canton, Ohio. There is simply too much good stuff worth doing.

There is a world-class, open-air cathedral of rock ’n’ roll right in the middle of town. It’s called the Bowl, and it’s in a neighborhood, and it’s intimate and small and feels like a friend’s backyard, but The Who played there last week, and the tree smelling in Jerry’s Glen is worth the ticket prices alone. The Natural History Museum has the bells and whistles and exotic attractions of a big-city space paired with the warmth and pitch-perfect area-centric view of this unique corner of the world.

As a beast who values his wild animal roots, I typically tuck tail at the mere mention of a zoo. But not here! The Santa Barbara Zoo is absolute family fun. Dot whimpers in her sleep about the baby giraffes, but I’m Team Lucky all the way — that Teva-wearing penguin is pure inspiration be you man or beast or bird.

Yet none of that compares to the whales and the soul-arresting salty odeur of experiencing these huge Bernese mountain dogs of the sea in their natural element. Our day on the Condor Express spent among these animals out in the Channel will forever live in Daug family lore.

We had a similar discovery-filled adventure — not to mention one of the best ways to get quickly oriented to the modern quirks and rich history of this town — with a head-out-the-window t our of S.B. on both land and sea aboard the Land Shark.

We tickled our karaoke bone at Tiburon Tavern every Friday night, me handling the Snoop Dogg standards and Dot, as always, doing her Baha Men thing. I never tire of watching her do her “Who Let the Dogs Out” paw-shaking one night in a hot crowded dive bar and then classing up her act tenfold the next night for the latest Ensemble Theatre Company production at the New Vic or a State Street Ballet show at the Granada. We pulled just such a doubleheader earlier this month with Macbeth directed by Jonathan Fox — nothing like a little blood, greed, and politics during election season to help raise your hackles.

Place to Hear Live Music

Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. MilpasSt., 962-7411,

Finalist: SOhO Restaurant & MusicClub


Santa Barbara Museum of NaturalHistory, 2559 Puesta del Sol, 682-4711,

Finalist: Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara Zoo
Paul Wellman

Family Fun Spot

Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Niños Dr.,962-5339,

Finalist: Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond

Whale-Watching Tour

Condor Express, 301 W. Cabrillo Blvd., 882-0088,

Finalist: Double Dolphin

Land Shark
Paul Wellman

S.B. Tour Company

Land and Sea Tours: The Land Shark, 216 Arboleda Rd., 683-7600,

Finalist: SantaBarbara Adventure Co.

Tiburon Tavern
Paul Wellman


Tiburon Tavern, 3116 State St., 682-8100

Finalist: The James Joyce

Theater Company

Ensemble Theatre Co., 33 W. Victoria St., 965-5400,

Finalist: Out of the Box Theatre Co.

Dance Company

State Street Ballet, 2285 Las Positas Rd., 845-1432,

Finalist: La Boheme

Beach /place to watch the sunset

Hendry’s Beach (Arroyo Burro Beach), 2981 Cliff Dr.,

Finalist: Butterfly Beach

SBIFF — Riviera Theatre
Paul Wellman

Movie Theater

SBIFF — Riviera Theatre, 2044 Alameda Padre Serra, 805-963-0023,

Finalist: Camino Real Theater

Wildcat Lounge
Paul Wellman

Dance Club/College Night

Wildcat Lounge, 15 W. Ortega St.,962-7970,

“The Wildcat is a game changer. No other place pumps up the jam like the Kitty. I’ve spent six hours on the dance floor and wanted more.” —Tate Larrick, dance machine

Finalist (Dance Club): SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

Finalist (College Night): Velvet Jones


Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St., 730-1460,

“This is what makes Sullivan Goss awesome: the confidence to recognize and unearth the work of past artists while having the vision to recognize the potential of new, contemporary work.” —Blakeney Sanford, artist

Finalist: 2nd Fridays Art at SBTC

Classical Ensemble

Santa Barbara Symphony, 1330 State St., Ste. 102, 898-9386,

“Under the leadership of maestro Nir Kabaretti, the S.B. Symphony has grown into a formidable ensemble capable of attracting the world’s top soloists and maintaining an outstanding roster of great musicians.” —Charles Donelan, The S.B. Independent

Finalist: Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra

Funk Zone Spot

Figueroa Mountain Brewing, 137 Anacapa St., Ste. F, 694-2252 x342,

Finalist: Seven Bar & Kitchen


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