Inside their landmark shop, the McConnell family has churned up super-premium ice creams from fresh California cream for more than 60 years. Showcasing radiant smiles and gleaming, steely forearms, scoop masters top a crisp waffle cone ($4.25) with one of more than 100 creamy flavors, 15 of which are served on a rotating basis, including mint chocolate chip, Brazilian coffee chip, and the seasonal pumpkin. Fresh drifts of nonfat frozen yogurt descend daily from the shop's machine to form inventive swirls in more than 35 flavors, each boasting 13 calories per ounce. Frigid flavors such as cookies and cream or Coffee Royale fill a cavernous small cup ($3.75), and white-chocolate raspberry or peanut butter whip up the perfect storm in a thick shake ($7.25). Ambitious eaters can tackle the popular ice cream pie: up to three flavors of ice cream or frozen yogurt are sandwiched between hot fudge and whipped cream, and served on choice of two crusts ($24.95).
There's a lot of history within Strataca at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum?about 275 million years' worth. It was way back then when the once mighty Permian Sea dried up, and its receding waters revealed something that would forever change the Hutchinson area: salt. Salt as far as a terrified slug's eyes could see. The mineral covered some 27,000 square miles, and it waited there for eons, until Ben Blanchard?an oil man?accidentally discovered it in 1887. Then salt companies began mining the area, eventually clearing out enough room for a museum, 650 feet deep within the Earth's crust.
To reach that depth, visitors travel down a mine shaft on Strataca's double-decker transport. And that ride is only the first of many. Surrounded by walls of exposed salt, the Dark Ride sends guests on a tram through the mine's exhibits on air flow, hazards, and history. The Salt Mine Express then journeys to an area of the mine virtually unchanged from the way it was 50 years ago. Aside from these permanent attractions, the museum also hosts special events, including its Salt Safari, which sends groups wandering through miles of dark tunnel with only a lighted hard hat.
As a significant stop on the Urban Wine Trail, Margerum and Au Bon Climat curate an experienced team of vintners who bring the best of their vineyard-grown gems to downtown Santa Barbara. Glass tippers can traverse the neighboring spaces of the Au Bon Climat and Margerum tasting rooms in whatever order they wish, guiding palates through a tasting tour that includes one full flight of wine from each winery. Flatbread and cheese plates from the nearby Wine Cask Restaurant provide ideal escorts for lonely glasses of handmade vino. In each room, guests savor the complex tastes of a flight of a rare or limited-edition vintage, from classic Burgundian-style beverages to estate-grown nebbiolo, teroldego, and petit verdot.
Twin Cups, a healthy-snack kiosk adjacent to the freeway, serves as a roadside oasis for patrons to grab quick, locally sourced treats using convenient drive-thru ordering. After noshers order from the menu at the kiosk and pull up to the curb, friendly staffers custom make nonfat, gluten-free fro-yo and brew cappuccinos to deliver to waiting cars or covered wagons. Order a plain frozen yogurt ($2.65+) or add a touch of sweetness with a choice of two blend-ins, such as raspberry, pineapple, and chocolate ($3.75 with blends). Infuse mornings with a hand-holding beach walk of tropical smoothie ($5.25) swirled with fresh orange juice, yogurt, and blends of pineapple, coconut, and mango. Drivers can also refuel stomach tanks with a medium americano ($2.35), cappuccino ($3.30), or house coffee ($1.85) and freshly baked cookies ($2).
Coffee Cat and Cafe Zoma satisfy caffeine cravings with a wide selection of freshly roasted fair-trade coffee drinks, and silence grumbling tummies with homemade baked goods, sandwiches, and crêpes. Perk up after an exhausting night of sleepskating with a foamy cappuccino ($3.50) or classic house brew ($1.90). Taste buds can nestle up to one of Coffee Cat’s specialty espresso drinks, such as the chocolate-raspberry mocha ($4.55) or honey-hazelnut latte ($4.20), served hot or iced, or the tantalizing selection of premium loose-leaf teas. Break up sipping, slurping, and gargling regimens with a morning-glory muffin—a freshly baked confection of coconut, carrot, cranberries, and walnuts—a slice of vegan zucchini bread, or a cherry-lemon scone. Homemade fluffy crêpes at the Coffee Cat location serve as a snuggly sleeping bag for sweet and savory concoctions, such as smoked ham, egg, and cheese ($6.95) or banana and Nutella ($6.75).
The brewing baristas at Santa Barbara Roasting Company freshly prepare more than 40 different blends and single origin coffees, which warmly woo palates from a café menu of espressos, blends, and teas. Standard espressos ($1.90–$2.65) eschew pomp and frills for straightforward bean-roasted flavors, whereas a caramel latte ($3.50–$4.50) intermingles saccharine delights like prom at a gingerbread high school. Steaming café staples including yerba matte ($2.15–$3.15) and roco cocoa ($2.85–$3.45) offer both warm and iced versions to match any weather. Mocha ice blended drinks ($4.05–$4.95) deliver cold bursts of energy, perfect for warm weather sipping or sharing with a pet snowman.