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The Isla Vista Rundown

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

THE IV RUNDOWN: A guide to a perfect week in Isla Vista, California. 

Although Isla Vista might just seem like a silly little college town for UCSB students, it is so much more than that. There are tons of things to experience in Isla Vista: from food to fashion to music, IV has it all. Not to mention, the beautiful neighborhood is right on the ocean and has one of the prettiest views on the planet. IV is not a neighborhood that anyone should take for granted, especially if you’re a student at UCSB. 

Your first stop in IV before a long day of exploring should always be a classic one: CAJÉ. 

CAJÉ is one of the best coffee shops I’ve ever been to, not just around UCSB, but everywhere. Not only is it so cute, but the vibes are unmatched in every way. Every single worker is so friendly and the small menu is nothing short of delicious, with tons of smoothies, bowls, bagels, coffees and other fun drinks. If you don’t know what to get, it’s probably best to go with a classic: The Works bagel on a plain bagel and a large iced matcha. As a coffee hater, their matcha with a pump of lavender is the best option!

You can easily take your matcha to-go and walk around the corner to Little Acorn Park, where there are fashion markets every weekend. These unique markets are usually filled with student vendors who make products or have a small business, and there is always some super cool stuff going on. Live music is usually playing while you walk around to different booths and find the second-hand clothes of your dreams. Some people make their own up-cycled clothing while others collect vintage pieces that need a new home. It is definitely something you don’t want to miss in IV. 

After some nice cheap second-hand shopping in the park, a beautiful and refreshing bike ride around the neighborhood is always a great idea. You’ll notice that there are barely any cars around IV, as everyone buys cute little cruiser bikes from the IV Bike Boutique. It’s by far the cutest bike shop I’ve ever seen. You can check out all the cool and random places of IV with your cruiser, and maybe there’s time to stop into IV Deli Mart for some snacks or treats. Trust me, they have everything you could ever imagine in that little store. You absolutely can not go wrong in IV Deli Mart. It may seem odd, but their hot food is some of the best in the area. 

If you’re still hungry, you can run across the street to Hummus Republic. My friends and I used to stop in here daily for an IMPOSSIBLE meat hummus bowl. Chef’s kiss. So many yummy options—I don’t even like hummus that much but this place works wonders. 

So far, all I’ve talked about in IV is food places, and don’t get me wrong it has a lot, but there are other spots to hit too. If you’re looking to spice up your look, head right into the Precious Slut Piercing Shop. I just recently got my piercing changed there for only 15 bucks and haven’t had a single problem with it. Super cheap, quick and easy, and they always do a great job. The workers are always funny and nice, so it’s definitely worth a trip.

And of course, if it’s Thursday, you have no choice but to head into Woodstock’s for a loud and crazy trivia night. If you want to get a meal you can, but otherwise you can lock in to win a long game of trivia with your squad. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a more intense environment, but its truly amazing. You don’t have to be good at trivia, you just need some dedication.

After trivia you’re going to be starving from all that thinking, even if you had a delicious Woodstock’s pizza. Walk yourself on over to the most popular spot in Isla Vista: Freebirds. Nachos and a Queso-rito are a must at Freebirds. It’s basically a much better version of Chipotle, you tell them what you want and they serve it right in front of you. The line is usually pretty long out the door, but don’t let that intimidate you because they are quick moving in there! Create your own anything. And don’t forget to get their guac: I know people who drive miles just to stand in the hour long line at Freebirds for the homemade guac. It’s just that good! 

Now, if you’re from UCSB you probably already know all of these little spots, but if you’re not from UCSB, take my word for it. College is the best four years of your life, but only if you try every place in IV. 

Now, to make your life easy, here are my special orders and favorites at all spots in IV: 

CAJÉ: The Works Bagel with Garlic Cream Cheese and an Iced Matcha with Honey Lavender 

Hummus Republic – Impossible Meat and Couscous Bowl with Side of Pita 

IV Deli – Curly fries and a Caprese Grilled Cheese (always with a Yerba Mate) 

Dank Bowls: Tomato Soup Bread Bowl and Watermelon Lemonade always 

Blenders: Peanut Butter Smoothie (add chia seeds!) 

Free Birds!!: Literally anything. Everything is so good. 

UCSB Communications major with a passion for writing, thrifting, and sustainability!