Originally Posted by imatlas
Steaming Bean, Shell Beach (best coffee in the Central Coast and just off of an exit on 101)
Hmm. I've never visited there, but have you been to The French Press or Handlebar Coffee in Santa Barbara? Both are excellent coffee shops in the 3rd wave coffee tradition (but without the pretension).
Anyway, if we're encouraging people to go off the 101, then the Lompoc wine ghetto is definitely worth a visit, with many tasting rooms from the various Santa Rita Hills wineries. They have a website, but it appears to be down right now. Lompoc is a little bit west of Buellton --- basically where the 101 meets 246, take the 246 west into the hills. In that area, Babcock and Melville are great places to visit since they're right next to each other, and are very pretty to boot.
And if you take the shortcut down to Santa Barbara, you will pass by Los Olivos, which has many good wineries and tasting rooms nearby, too. The shortcut is taking highway 154 off 101, a little bit south of Los Alamos. It's the exit you take to Lake Cachuma, and I think that's what it says on the sign. You can't take the shortcut if you're going on to the 246.
It will drop you right into Santa Barbara, and saves about 10 minutes. The drive down the pass can be spectacular since you are looking south at the ocean almost the whole way down but keep your eyes on the road!