Cold Spring Tavern in the Mountains Above Santa Barbara

Cold Spring Tavern is one of those historic and beautiful places that has an amazing atmosphere, great food and a fantastic location to add to it. From the moment you walk into the quiet little log cabin and see the fire roaring you will wish you had more time just to sit and listen to the stories that no doubt these walls could tell. Here is all the info so you can experience it for yourself.

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Details

  • Hours: 11 AM – 8 PM
  • Cost: $15
  • Location: 5995 Stagecoach Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
  • Suggestions: Tri Tip Sandwich

History

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At over 125 years old, stagecoaches used to stop here when it was known as “Cold Spring Relay Station.” The tavern was purchased in 1941 by Adelaide Ovington and is still run as a rest stop for modern travelers to this day.

Getting There

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Located down a windy road in the hills above Santa Barbara, Cold Springs Tavern feels about as far away from the pop culture of Santa Barbara as is humanly possible.

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As you round the bend on Stagecoach Road, after passing an overlook for the amazing Cold Springs Bridge, you will see this little cabin nestled in the mountain and can park anywhere down the side of the road that goes by it.

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The interior is small and full of charm with a dozen or so tables and only a few people working there. I love sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter day as I wait for my tri top sandwich to be ready.

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It does get really busy on the weekends though as it is a favorite spot for motorcycle riders to visit and people wanting a nice brunch.

The Food

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As far as food goes, I have been here many times, and I have a hard time ordering anything but the tri tip. It is just so juicy and flavorful that it has become something I think about on long road trips up the coast.

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It comes with fries or potato salad, and both are great choices, but I usually go with the fries.

If you really want a flavor explosion then add 2 more dollars and get the onion rings. They come with ranch or you can dip them in the excellent mustard that comes with the sandwich.

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You can also order your food to go and take it outside to sit under the trees and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the area. This is one of those places that I recommend you plan an hour for as it is fun just to sit and relax without a huge agenda.

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After finishing your meal be sure to explore the antique shop, if it’s open.

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As you can see, I really like this place. The area itself is so beautiful, and it feels like you stumbled onto one of those hidden California gems. Be sure to add it to your list on your next trip up Highway 101 and let me know what you thought in the comments.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • szahn

    Great tip! Went up here for the weekend and enjoyed some lunch here. Definetly worth it.

    • Thanks for the comment, glad you liked it!

  • Luisa Curiale

    I went here this weekend, because of you! What an awesome place!!!! Apple cobbler to die for!!! I’m so glad I found your site, I have done SOOOOOO much because of you.
    Have you gone to Knapp’s castle ? Which Is near here?

    • Thanks for the comment and I am so glad the site has been helpful! I agree, Cold Springs Tavern is pretty epic!

  • Thanks for the comment, I will have to check it out!

    • Jenifer Russell

      I’m so happy I found your website! I was born and raised in So Cal and you have so many wonderful places to explore it reminds me why our State is so amazing! I live in Ventura now and so if you are referring to the Brooks Institute that was here, sadly it has closed. They were bought out by a new company and then filed for bankruptcy last year. There was a big scandal about it here between the City, property developers and Brooks you can find it all online if you’re interested. Sad loss for our great city. Keep up the amazing work!