Barbara, or the "American Riviera", glistens like a jewel. From the sparkling
ocean waters to the tiny lights that twinkle on the mountains at night,
a timeless beauty causes many guests to succumb to the inner voice that
urges them to stay a little longer. This Central Coast treasure located
between the Pacific Ocean and the gently sloped, Santa Ynez mountains,
offers something for every age and interest, making it one of California's
favorite destinations and best reasons to consider it your next adventure.
Ideally located north of Los Angeles (about
a 75 minute drive), you can visit by car, train, plane or bus and with
or no fuss, head straight for the beach when you arrive. Popular
for its year round warm, sunny sand where locals and guests spend much
time, activities are as endless as the parade of people traveling along
the paved beach path in surreys, on skates, by foot and on bikes.
Swimming, sailing, surfing, sunbathing, volleyball and even shopping are
enjoyed at the beach. For the culturally minded, there are museums,
a mission, music, theaters, a state university and lots of great shops
to browse for favorite books or objects d'art.
Santa Barbara offers a variety of options
in shopping, dining and accommodations, making it within reach for every
budget and preference. From bed and breakfast inns, fine resorts,
budget hotels and even an international hostel, there are lodgings for
every price range.
As you "check in" to Santa Barbara, you
have many choices to make. The beach is a top attraction and you
might want to survey it early on. Stearns Wharf offers restaurants, shops
and a museum, there's a beautiful, free skate park near the wharf,
a carousel, several playgrounds, a zoo, volleyball courts and lots of sand
to run your toes through. And you're not even wet yet!
Wander up State Street away from the beach
for a shopping extravaganza. One-of-a-kind shops and boutiques line
the stately thoroughfare where purple acacia trees fill the sky with color.
There are department stores such as Macy's and Nordstrom's, dozens of cafes,
restaurants, bars and gourmet coffee shops, a movie theater and a top notch
art museum. Explore side streets with more shops, walkways and buildings
and an historic courthouse with forever views of the city, beach and surrounding
hills. From the Santa Barbara Courthouse bell tower you can set your sights
toward the Santa Barbara Mission.
For a small fee, hop aboard the bus to
what some rank as the "Queen" of the 21 California missions. Not far away
is a Natural History Museum which the kids will love, a Botanical Garden
and several other attractions and points of interest. Santa Barbara
traces its history back to the earliest days of Spanish settlement in Upper
California. In 1602 Spanish conquistador Sebastian Vizcaino sailed into
Santa Barbara Bay and named it for the saint who held that birth date.
Whether you've decided to take a solo trip,
vacations or a romantic retreats, all can be done with enjoyment
and ease. It's no secret among celebrities that Santa Barbara
is the "in" place. From Charlie Chaplin's love of the region in the
early 1900's, to establishment of homes and estates by today's stars, don't
be surprised if you see someone famous. (On one trip to the top of
the Santa Barbara Courthouse, we spotted John Travolta, giving a tour to