Home California How To Spend A Day In Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

How To Spend A Day In Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

by Penny Sadler

Updated June 21, 2019: Great news. Margerum Wines has now opened a tasting room just steps from the Santa Barbara Funk Zone–across the street from the Hotel Californian. I love Margerum’s small tasting room in El Paseo, too. Doug Margerum has been a key player in the Santa Barbara wine scene for over 35 years and he makes really good juice.

How To Spend A Day In Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

Located just two blocks from the beach, between Cabrillo Blvd. and Highway 101, is Santa Barbara’s unusually hip neighborhood.

Known as The Funk Zone, it was originally an industrial area taken over by artists who have turned the abandoned warehouses into studios. In addition to artist galleries you’ll find wineries, tasting rooms, farm-to-table restaurants, unique shops, a micro brewery and Santa Barbara’s first distillery.

Wildly popular with tourists on holidays and weekends, locals love it too. I have no trouble getting my local friends to spend a day with me in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone.

I’ve been traveling to Santa Barbara for over fifteen years, and though it is undeniably beautiful it can be very quiet. The Funk Zone definitely adds to Santa Barbara’s fun factor.

getting funky in Santa Barbara, Pinterest image

 

 

Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

In addition to exploring Santa Barbara wineries, one of my favorite things to do in the Funk Zone is to simply walk around and look at the street art, murals and graffiti, and talk to the pop-up vendors.

But, back to the wine tasting. The Funk Zone is part of Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail (more about that in future articles). Approximately half of the twenty plus tasting rooms that comprise the Urban Wine Trail, can be found in the The Funk Zone. And the beauty of it all, it’s 100% pedestrian friendly. Enjoying a great day of culture and wine tasting in Santa Barbara couldn’t be easier.

Follow me on a photo walk through the tasting rooms, street art, and restaurants of the Funk Zone.

Wine tasting

 

wine tasting, Santa Barbara, champagne at Riverbench

Bubbles at Riverbench

 

A good place to start is at The Valley Project. The tasting room is dedicated to educating customers about Santa Barbara county wines via maps and displays of soil samples. There are fifty-five varietals grown in Santa Barbara County’s eight AVAS (American Viticulture Area). You can try wines from all of them at The Valley Project. I love the huge chalk map and other visual education materials that decorate the tasting room.

wine tasting the urban wine trail, Santa Barbara

Cool chalk mural at AVA The Valley Project in the Funk Zone. Photo courtesy of AVA The Valley Project.

 

116 East Yanonali
www.thevalleyproject.net
 

Riverbench wines are made from 100% estate grown grapes, specializing in chardonnay and pinot noir. They produce four sparkling wines made in the methode champenoise – this is why I go to Riverbench, I love their sparkling wine.  I tried the Blanc de Noirs and the Brut Rose. Both are made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.  The Blanc de Noirs had strong bubbles and a nice crispness with pear and citrus on the nose. It’s not cheap but it’s a great value compared to a French champagne of similar quality.

The Brut Rose is already sold out so that tells you something. Softer bubbles with more berries on the nose, this wine is easy drinking – so watch yourself.

You can also visit the winery and vineyards located in Foxen Canyon. For more information check their website.
 

 

Riverbench tasting room the Urban Wine Trail, Santa Barbara

Golden hour outside Riverbench tasting room

 
137 Anacapa St. Suite C
www.riverbench.com
 

Pali is known for their Pinot Noir. The owners have recently planted vineyards in Santa Barbara and Sonoma Counties; their 2015 vintage will feature wines made from the fruit of these vineyards. Prior vintages are sourced from Santa Barbara County, Oregon, and Sonoma county. They offer Pinot Noir flights and wines by the glass.

116 Yananoli
www.paliwine.com

Slow Down and Enjoy the Funk

As you’re wandering from one tasting room to the next, take time to notice the street art and the flowers. Even the doorways to the artist galleries, museums and studios tell you a story.

 

street art in the Santa Barbara funk zone

Part of a mural by Marin artist Zio Ziegler

purple flowers at a wine tasting in Santa Barbara

Take time to smell the flowers

slow down and enjoy the funk, Santa Barbara funk zone

Get the message yet?

More Drinks

If wine is not your thing try Figueroa Mountain, a California microbrewer with multiple locations up and down the Central Coast. The Santa Barbara Funk Zone location has live music and has become a local hot spot for late night revelry.

Eat

Hungry? I always want to eat everything in sight when I’m in Santa Barbara. I’ve never had a bad meal there.

Needless to say, I had to go to The Lucky Penny. Look at that cool exterior covered in copper. And who doesn’t appreciate a sense of humor. Seating is communal with benches and tables outside. Lucky Penny is known for their wood-fired pizzas and salads, so we went with that and as you can see, we liked it.

 

lucky penny Santa Barbara, pizza, eating in the Santa Barbara funk zone

Of course I went to The Lucky Penny!

Their sister restaurant, The Lark, is booked well in advance. They were closed for lunch but we wandered through and I took some photos. I think one of the things California does consistently well besides wine, food, and scenery, is interior design. I loved this whimsical space.

The Lark was named one of the 100 Best Restaurants on Forbes 2016 list. Dine on oysters on the half shell, gnocchi with Dungeness Crab, or marinated and grilled Hanger Steak. I definitely plan to hit this place next time I’m in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara's funk zone restaurant, The Lark

Great interior design follows great food or is it the other way around?

131 Anacapa St. next to The Lucky Penny
www.thelarksb.com

Update

Michelin rated dining in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone

Helena Avenue Bakery – brings upscale Southern cuisine to the Santa Barbara. 

Shopping the Santa Barbara Funk Zone

Artists gave birth to the Santa Barbara Funk Zone, so be sure to spend some time browsing the shops and galleries. Don’t miss The Mermaid’s Chest, which you can see is right next to a Segway rental. On the left is the Surf Museum.

shopping Santa Barbara's funk zone, small shops

So many cool places to explore, maybe by Segway?

Santa Barbara funk zone, the surf museum

The Surf Museum appropriately next to the Mermaid’s Chest

The Guitar Bar – I don’t play the guitar but I love music and this store. The big sofas and ottomans scattered about look so comfortable I want to just plop myself down and hang out for a while. If you are in the market for a guitar maybe you’ll find it here? If not, you’ll sure have fun trying.

the guitar bar in the funk zone, Santa Barbara

The Guitar Bar

137 Anacapa St.
www.sbguitarbar.com

The Funk Zone is bordered by State St., Garden St., Cabrillo Blvd.,  and Highway 101. Cabrillo Blvd.  runs along the beach and State St. is the main drag so you can not possibly get lost. Across State St. is the Amtrak station.

Stearn's wharf in Santa Barbara, funk zone

Stearn’s Wharf is on Cabrillo Blvd. and a short walk from the tasting rooms of the Funk Zone

Depending on where you are staying you can either walk, bike, hire an Uber car, or a pedicab. Santa Barbara is an easy city to navigate, especially around the beach. The only issue can be parking, though that is less of a problem in the Funk Zone.

See a map of the Funk Zone.

 

I’ll follow up this article with more tasting rooms on the Urban Wine Trail. Meanwhile, enjoy the funk.

Have you been to the Funk Zone?

7 x 7’s article compares the Funk Zone to the Mission in San Francisco.

 

All materials copyright Penny Sadler. All rights reserved.

 

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21 comments

fyhfurn1 August 2, 2017 at 6:36 am

Nice Blog !! .

Reply
Penny Sadler August 4, 2017 at 4:49 pm

thanks.

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Tami July 25, 2017 at 1:00 am

The Guitar Bar looks like such a fun place to hang out. I don’t play very well, but it’d be fun to pick up a guitar and strum a little…or just relax in those comfy-looking chairs! You’ve put together a nice list of happenin’ places in Santa Barbara.

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Penny Sadler July 25, 2017 at 9:22 am

The guitar bar is super inviting for sure.

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Michelle July 21, 2017 at 9:54 pm

This sounds like a great, relaxing day! I love wine tasting and microbreweries (and art is pretty great too), so this sounds right up my alley! Thank you for sharing!

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Mags July 20, 2017 at 10:16 am

I didn’t even know about the Funk Zone. That’s too fun! I guess I’ll have to add Santa Barbara to the ever growing list.

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noel July 20, 2017 at 12:01 am

I would love to go back to Santa Barbara and check out this cool area some day

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Penny Sadler July 20, 2017 at 9:51 am

You’d like it

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Paige W July 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm

I’ve never heard of the Funk Zone, but it looks absolutely awesome! I love the recommendation to slow down and enjoy the funk. I would love to go to the guitar bar. Sounds really cool!

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Natasha July 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm

This seems like the ultimate place to come and chill out! I love how the abandoned buildings are now being used by somebody instead of just being empty and probably an eyesore! Wine tasting is right down my street so I would be doing that!

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Tanya Korteling July 16, 2017 at 5:44 am

Absolutely love the sound of the wine trail; the art sounds interesting too! Hopefully one day I’ll visit!

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Jenna July 16, 2017 at 4:00 am

The Funk Zone looks like such a cute neighborhood! I would love to stop at the The Lark to eat and then go browsing in the shops. Love the street art, too! I think I need to plan a trip here 🙂

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Indrani July 16, 2017 at 2:43 am

A good place to chill and relax. The wine tasting seems great and the ideal for a weekend outing.

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Victoriab July 15, 2017 at 9:15 pm

I love art and the urban wine trail sounds so fun! I don’t care for beer so a wine trail is much more my speed! Thanks for sharing!

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Penny Sadler July 15, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Thanks Victoria. I’m sure you’d like it.

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thomas harper July 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm

who are you kidding? the “funk” is gone from the funk zone, it’s just another drunk zone!

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Penny Sadler July 7, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Hey Thomas, I was there in February which isn’t exactly high tourist season. Had a lot of fun. But yea, I can see that it can be a drunkfest for sure. Any suggestions of other places to go?

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Margie Miklas June 28, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Loved this post, Penny …so many details!! Looks like you could easily spend a weekend there!!

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Penny Sadler June 29, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Margie! Yes. I’ve spent a lot of weekends and more there, though not only in the Funk Zone. 🙂 Thanks so much for the comments!

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Sand In My Suitcase May 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

The Funk Zone definitely sounds like a place in Santa Barbara one should hit :-).The wine tasting looks like fun…

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Penny Sadler May 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm

It is. And there are so many tasting rooms there. Walking to them is the best part!

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