Santa Barbara, California Crown Jewel - Vacation Photos and Info

Santa Barbara, or the "American Riviera", glistens like a jewel in the crown of the Central California Coast. From sparkling ocean waters to 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 a Santa Barbara vacation as your next adventure.  Santa Barbara vacations offer stunning scenery, arts and the sparkling Pacific Ocean


Consistently ranking as one of the nation's favorite beach cities, there's no mystery why Santa Barbara is a tourist favorite. The variety of hotels is tremendous, ranging from beach resorts such as Bacara and Four Seasons, to affordable and budget accommodations. In addition to the broad mix of properties geared to tourists, there's enough shopping (among the favorite vacation past times) to last an entire weekend. History, money, missions and wine are a few of the attractions that attract guests to this scenic and culturally-rich destination.


Ideally located north of Los Angeles (about a 75 minute drive), you can visit by car, train, plane or bus and with little 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. Plus, 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 seasonally 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, California family vacation or a romantic retreat, all can be yours 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 famed actor John Travolta giving a tour to his friends.)


Factoid: Santa Barbara offers more space per capita than in other city in the US. Source: Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission.


Among Santa Barbara's Population, Landmarks and assets, you'll discover a host of amenities and attractions. The city has Beach Hotels that include Spa resorts, Four Diamond Hotels and Five Diamond Resorts, plus Golf Hotels Resorts.

Activities and events include Free pier fishing, Beach Volleyball, a Farmer's Market and Harbors & Marinas for sportfishing, whale watching trips and bay cruises.

Santa Barbara photos