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Belly up to the oyster shucking station and down a few briny bites at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara.
AQUATIC OBSERVATION: There are few things more heart-twisting, at least on a civic level, than a city that has something amazing and wondrous at its front door and yet doesn't do too much to honor that amazing and wondrous thing. We think this is a rarer occurrence, at least we hope so, because if your town happens to be cheek-by-jowl with a gorgeous spot, honor that spot. Santa Barbara is cheek-by-jowl -- or, um, er, sand-by-shore? -- with the Pacific Ocean, and it does a very fine job of recognizing that fact throughout the year. Harbor Festival? Check. Seafood Festival? Check. The Kardboard Kayak party, where kayaks are indeed made out of cardboard? It's a summer staple. Sunny weekends where a bevy of events are planned at the water's edge? Just another Saturday and Sunday in the American Riviera. In fact, we'd almost say that Santa Barbara makes up for other ocean-close towns that don't do too much regarding their watery neighbor. So thank you, S.B. -- we can totally call you that, right? -- and we'll see you at the next oceany to-do, which happens to involve...
OYSTERS: Lots and lots of glisteny bivalve action'll be on the shucking tables at the Canary Hotel come Sunday, July 28. That's the date for the Shuck 'N Swallow (catchy), the hotel's first oyster-eating competition. Those don't roll around enough for masterful shuckers or those foodies who can't get enough of the briny bites. A DJ, local wines and beers, and a taco station -- yay, taco station! -- round out the summery Sunday.
IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT... or aren't an oyster aficionado, keep an eye on the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. They're involved in many of the ocean-nice to-dos around the town, so bet you'll find your perfect H20 experience.