So what went wrong? First of all, out hotel was in complete remodel mode. The place was a total construction site complete with boarded up areas, sawing, hammering, dirt, etc. I wish I had taken pictures, but we were so stunned by the condition of the place that it completely slipped my mind!
The front desk was located in a portable trailer out in the parking lot! Given that it was the 4th of July at the beach, we knew there wouldn't be any available rooms elsewhere, so we stayed, but not without demanding (and receiving) a serious discount on the room!
We tried heading to the beach on Friday as soon as we had checked in, the room was that unappealing, but we couldn't find a single place to park. And we looked. For a long while. Since the beach was a no-go, we drove inland a bit to one of Santa Barbara's many parks. We had the dog with us and knew that a hike would be good for him.
Once we finally found the park's entrance, we were shocked to see the entrance closed and locked. Fortunately, just down the road, there was a small turnout that we used to park the truck. We did get to hike, but it was frustrating to be turned away yet again!
After a third turn-away, a deli that we really wanted to try was closed for the holiday weekend, things started to improve. We ultimately made it to the beach, and we enjoyed a number of delicious meals. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous city, but it's better enjoyed on a quieter weekend!