Stepping Back in Time!


A great tip I’ve learned during my travels is always talk about your travel plans with others because you never know what information that person may share. For instance, I was talking with a former coworker over a lunch catch-up on my plans for going to Santa Barbara for the weekend and she told me I had to go to Cold Spring Tavern for their amazing chili. After our lunch I Googled the restaurant and was immediately sold on visiting. I might not have ever known about Cold Spring Tavern if not for my lunch date! It’s such a unique and cool place that it gets its very own blog post!

[I’ve written about Santa Barbara before so feel free to check out that post here!]

Cold Spring Tavern might be as close as one can get to traveling back in time to the Old West in California! I get the same feeling when I visit Death Valley that time has frozen here to allow us a peek into the harsh and often romanticized life of the Old West. The Tavern was established in in 1865 as a stagecoach rest stop where travelers could rest their horses and themselves while enjoying a warm meal. The need for a way station began after the new turnpike over the San Marcos Pass was constructed in the 1860s to make transporting easier through the Santa Ynez Mountains. The pass became a vital route connecting Santa Barbara with the rural areas in the mountains, and Cold Spring Tavern was a significant staple on that road and continues to comfort travelers today!

My friend and I drove up the winding mountain roads behind Santa Barbara for lunch and were greeted to a charming tavern! We arrived a little before noon which was perfect timing before the lunch rush since there are not a lot of tables in the tiny restaurant. We both couldn’t decide what to choose between and ordered both the famous chili and popular tri-tip sandwich! Both were so delicious and the chili would be amazing on a cold day. If we had the time it would have been great to stick around at the pub next door and sit outside sipping beers and listening to the live music. Cold Spring Tavern is the perfect place to spend the afternoon! I can’t wait to go back and spend more time enjoying the fun and charming atmosphere! And another big bowl of chili! 😀


Cold Spring Tavern is located about 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara, California in the mountains of the San Marcos Pass area.


The restaurant and adjacent bar are a popular gathering place for bikers and locals to grab a refreshing beer and hearty meal while enjoying the live music and company of friends. You can order chili and the tri-tip sandwich from the bar but for all other menu items you have to eat at the restaurant.


You can tell this tavern remained nearly unchanged because it’s pretty tight quarters by today’s standards. You will get cozy with your neighbors and table guests! 🙂


I’m enjoying the popular tri-tip sandwich with the cozy original fireplace behind me!


Cold Spring Tavern is a symbol of the Old West and exploration of the American Frontier.


“For over 100 years Cold Spring Tavern has been a haven for hungry travelers. This old and weathered establishment, virtually unchanged since the days of the stagecoach run, is rich in California history and old time hospitality. If the walls could talk they’d speak of the thousands of colorful characters who once found solace here from the dusty roads and the wilds of the old west. The horse drawn coaches have long since disappeared but the Tavern still stands ready to welcome hungry travelers…and reminisce about days gone by.”


Cold Spring Tavern is located about 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara, California in the mountains of the San Marcos Pass area.



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