The Trip Every Couple Needs to Take Before Having a Baby

Aerial view of Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara
Courtesy of Hotel Californian

We’ll level with you. The term “babymoon” is more than a little cheesy, but the concept is worth getting on board with: You take a trip with your significant other before a new member of the family crashes into the picture and turns your life into a tornado.

Of course, just because the aim of a getaway at this crossroads in your life is usually unwinding, that doesn’t mean you can’t eke out as much adventure you can pack into a long weekend or week. You don’t have to lounge poolside or loll about in a spa the whole time (though you should probably sign your wife up for a prenatal rubdown ASAP).

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The best way to do a pre-baby trip is to pack it with all the activities you both enjoy since your post-baby trips will probably revolve around your kid(s) for the foreseeable future. Our suggestion? Head west. Santa Barbara is a sweet spot between the Pacific and mountain peaks that offers everything you need to feel refreshed, exhilarated, and ready for the next chapter.

Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara
Courtesy Image

Where to Stay

Nestled between the oceans and the mountains, and mere blocks from the beach, is the R&R–ready Hotel Californian. The design is Spanish colonial architecture meets Morocco—boasting more than 1 million tiles throughout the hotel, many of which are hand-painted in Morocco for a totally authentic feel. Request a room with a fireplace to get extra cozy; if you’re lucky, you’ll nab a view of the sea or the Santa Ynez mountains from your personal veranda. Take in one of the resort’s Sunset Sessions concerts on Sunday evenings. And definitely lounge on the picturesque rooftop with a cocktail (or mocktail) in hand while soaking up killer views and music spun by top DJs.

What to Do

Make sure to visit the iconic Old Mission Santa Barbara, built in 1786 (the tenth of 21 missions founded throughout the state by Spanish Franciscans). It houses an active parish and a mausoleum. Go on a tour or a romantic walk through the 13 acres surrounding it, taking in views of several lush gardens and the Pacific Ocean.

Sandpiper Golf Course
Sandpiper Golf Course Courtesy Image

Set your spouse up with a treatment at Hotel Californian’s Majorelle spa. Make it personal with a customized experience, during which she can choose from a special blend of essential oils and gemstones at the spa’s aroma design bar. Either stick by her side for a couples’ massage, or use the time to go for nine holes at one of the amazing local golf courses. Play at Glen Annie Golf Club, and you’ll be swinging among lakes, waterfalls, and scenic views of mountains and the Channel Islands in the foothills of Santa Barbara. Or, take to a seaside bluff at the epic 7,000-yard Sandpiper Golf Club.

A must-do for music lovers: Pick up a record or two at VNYL record shop inside the nearby Kimpton Goodland hotel. They’ve got a library of classics from the ’60s through the ’90s. (Bonus if you book a night at the hotel: Every room has a vintage-style player for you to spin your own tunes on while you stay.)

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Stroll downtown and scoop up a leather backpack for your wife (it could double as a diaper bag…) and a new travel tote, like the Montecito Weekender, for yourself at Parker Clay; the luxury brand is based in Santa Barbara but employs artisans in Ethiopia to craft all its gear—so you can look and feel good supporting the brand.

Sip your way along the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. You can walk, ride, or shuttle along the way, hitting up outposts of 31 top vineyards from throughout the county. Taste locally grown and crafted chardonnay, syrah, and pinot noir.

Where to Eat

Head to the Funk Zone, a district between the ocean and Highway 101 that’s dotted with winemakers, art galleries, and several local craft breweries. Enjoy an award-winning pint alfresco at the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. taproom and get a wood-fired pizza from Lucky Penny served right to your table.

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Spend a fun afternoon soaking up harbor views and sampling local seafood at the famous Brophy Brothers Santa Barbara outpost. Then for a more romantic evening, dine under the stars on the terrace at Belmond El Encanto’s dining room. The farm-to-table menu’s focused on locally sourced, seasonal picks with lots of options fresh from the coast.

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