Cold Spring Tavern: History, Photos & Review of a Hidden Gem

cold spring tavern cover

Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Santa Barbara, Cold Springs Tavern stands as a testament to the rich history and vibrant culture of the region. This hidden restaurant offers visitors a unique blend of warm hospitality, delectable cuisine, and a glimpse into the past. Join us as we embark on a journey to discover the captivating history of Cold Springs Tavern and its enduring appeal.

old stagecoach road sign
The historic Old Stagecoach Road in California.

Historical Legacy

Cold Springs Tavern has a storied past that dates back to the early 1800s when it first opened its doors. Originally known as “The Cold Spring Relay Station,” the tavern served as a popular stopover for travelers along the historic Camino Real, the “Royal Road” that connected California’s Spanish missions. It provided a welcome respite for weary travelers seeking food, refreshments, and a place to rest.

cold spring tavern area
Walking from parking on the curvy road toward the tavern.

Cold Spring Tavern Ambience

Step into Cold Springs Tavern, and you’ll be transported back in time. The tavern has managed to retain its old-world charm, with its rustic decor, vintage photographs, and memorabilia adorning the walls. The inviting ambiance, combined with the friendly staff, creates a welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.

Culinary Delights

The former stagecoach stop maintains its historic look, and as you explore the grounds, you can’t help feeling like you’re stepping back to the late 1800s.

One of the highlights of Cold Springs Tavern is its mouthwatering cuisine. The tavern offers a diverse menu featuring both traditional and contemporary dishes that showcase the flavors of the region. From locally sourced seafood to hearty comfort food, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Pair your meal with a selection from the tavern’s extensive wine list, which includes both local and international varietals.

Cold Spring Tavern has had many owners over the years and the current family has done a great job of preserving its history. Hours are meal specific:

  • Breakfast is only on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am – 11am
  • Lunch is daily from 11am – 3pm
  • Dinner is nightly from 5pm – 9pm.
cold spring tavern
Ye Cold Spring Tavern historical restaurant.

Inside the tavern is a menagerie of artifacts; Wagon wheels, old pistols, trolly car tracks, historic photos, sideboards, tables, and more. They all feel like they have their own unique and intriguing story to tell.

cold spring tavern dining area
Dining area inside the old log Cold Spring Tavern.

The tavern is lit by the beautiful glow of oil lanterns. Not only is this in keeping with the historical accuracy of the building, but it also provides a romantic ambiance.

cold spring tavern menu
Charming table setting and delicious fresh bread.

Locally grown ingredients are used in this American-fare game inspired menu.

cold spring tavern charbroiled new zealand venison
Delicious charbroiled New Zealand Venison.
cold spring tavern chicken dinner
Chicken dinner at the Cold Spring Tavern.
cold spring tavern beef chili
The highly recommended beef chili. So good but filling!

Log Cabin Bar

Originally a water bottling plant from 1945-1953, this log structure is now a bar and music venue. On the weekends, local bands play, while the air is filled with the delicious smells of barbeque tri-tip. Tables are set up outside to accommodate the crowds.

log cabin bar fireplace
Fireplace inside of the Log Cabin Bar

The end of the cabin was torn down to remove the water bottling equipment. In its place, they constructed an awesome stone fireplace.

log cabin bar band
Band setting up for the evening performance.

Waiting for the neighboring tavern to open doors for dinner, we decided to relax and enjoy our surroundings with a few cocktails.

log cabin bar drinks
Rum and Coke, plus an amazing atmosphere.

Live Music and Entertainment

Cold Springs Tavern is not just a place to enjoy a delicious meal; it’s also a hub of live music and entertainment. The tavern hosts regular performances by talented local musicians, adding a lively and vibrant atmosphere to your dining experience. Whether you’re tapping your feet to the rhythm of a live band or enjoying a laid-back acoustic session, the music adds an extra layer of charm to your visit.

On the weekends, a table is set up outside for purchasing their famous tri-tip bbq sandwiches and onion rings.

log cabin bar smoker bbq
Barbecue and smoker outside of the Log Cabin Bar. Smells amazing!

Preserving History

Cold Springs Tavern is not just a restaurant; it’s a custodian of Santa Barbara’s history. The tavern proudly displays artifacts and photographs that tell the story of the region’s past, creating an immersive experience for visitors. Take a moment to appreciate the heritage that surrounds you as you indulge in the culinary delights and soak in the ambiance.

There are several historical buildings on the property, including the Road Gang house and some ghost town Gopherville structures. This tiny two-room structure is the 0ld Ojai Jail. Built-in 1873, this cell is rumored to hold up to eleven prisoners at once.

cold spring tavern jail
Old historic 1873 Ojai jail house.

The Bunkhouse was used for stage drivers when they stopped to add or take off horses. It is now an antique gift shop but with limited hours of operation.

treasures n trash antiques
Treasures ‘N Trash antique shop next to Cold Spring Tavern.

Cold Springs Tavern in Santa Barbara is a cherished destination that seamlessly blends history, culture, and culinary excellence. Whether you’re a local seeking a nostalgic trip down memory lane or a visitor looking to experience the rich heritage of Santa Barbara, the tavern offers an enchanting experience. From its fascinating history to its charming ambiance, delightful cuisine, and live entertainment, Cold Springs Tavern is a place where past and present converge, leaving you with lasting memories.

Experiencing this historical and living location stirred our imagination of what it was like over a century ago. We were excited to visit Ye Cold Spring Tavern, and it exceeded our expectations. The atmosphere was lively and serene, the food was excellent, drinks were decent, and the service was friendly; We are looking forward to visiting again soon.

Tips:

  • Take a smaller car if possible. Parking is limited.
  • Restaurant has specific hours. Plan according.
  • The property is available for weddings and other special events.
  • Check their website calendar (coldspringtavern.com) for updated bands and events.
About our
rating of Cold Spring Tavern
This places is teaming with history and charm. Definitely worth the trip but it’s so far out of the way, there isn’t much to do but hangout, listen to live music and have a drink before dinner.

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