The 16-room Presidio, more than a half-century old, was transformed by the team of Chris Sewell and Kenny Osehan, who sought out art students to add playful murals to the walls of each room. Like its sister property, the Agave, rooms are small but clean and chic with comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, free use of bicycles and continental breakfast. Close to downtown.

1620 State St.; (805) 963-1355,

Weekday rates from $79; weekend rates from $110

5. The Sandman Inn

This 112-room motel in uptown Santa Barbara advertises "a tradition of value for over 50 years," and few would argue. It has the most attractive grounds of any of the hotels in our budget category, with 41/2 acres of trees, vines and lovely landscaped pool areas. Rooms are efficient and clean; continental breakfast, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi are included.

Weekday rates from $85; weekend rates from $100

3714 State St.; (805) 687-2468,

10 restaurants for $10 or less

1. Breakwater Restaurant

You'll find lots of tropical-paradise ambiance at this patio restaurant overlooking the Santa Barbara yacht harbor. Try the Breakwater for breakfast (or later in the day) and watch power boats and sailboats bobbing in the water just beyond your table. Nice atmosphere on the patio, booth seating indoors. Omelets, egg dishes, salads and sandwiches available for less than $10.

107 Harbor Way; (805) 965-1557, Tab: $4.95-$12.95.

2. East Beach Grill

This laid-back coastal winner sits right on the sand in a converted historic building, the Cabrillo Bath House. It's basically a beach café with a walk-up counter and a forever-and-a-day view that encompasses the Channel Islands. Extremely popular at breakfast; ride a bike or walk to avoid parking problems. Sandwiches, burgers, omelets.

1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; (805) 965-8805. Tab: $4-$11

3. Gelson's Market

Not much atmosphere here, but the deli, the Wolfgang Puck Express, has great picnic potential. Choose from pizzas, oven-baked sandwiches, breakfast items, pastas (we like the Pennette Bolognese and Caesar salad side for $7.99), as well as grab-and-go sandwiches. Then visit a beautiful beach or park.

3305 State St.; (805) 687-5810, Tab: $4.50 and up

4. Mac's Fish & Chips

We get hungry just thinking about this Santa Barbara newcomer, which opened downtown about six months ago. British chef Grant MacNaughton, the owner, thought Santa Barbara needed "proper fish & chips." So he cooks up large crusty pieces of Alaskan cod with thin and crispy batter instead of what he characterizes as "the Americanized version" with thin strips of fish and heavy batter. We love his version and his "mushy peas," another savory British fave ($1.50) that he serves as a side.

503 State St.; (805) 897-1160, Tab: $5.50-$18