california

Santa Barbara, California


Santa Barbara is located geographically less than 100 miles from hyper-metropolitan Los Angeles but feels light years away from the noise and congestion of its huge neighbor to the south, which helps explain why the upper crust of Southern California have long favored the coastal retreat as both a getaway destination and the perfect place for a second (or sometimes first) home. With a temperate climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is perfect for a day trip, with its wide, perfect beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices, or a much longer stay, with a highly active local culture of volunteerism and fund-raising (not to mention the very high number of wealthy people) that enables the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy the sort of cultural and social amenities that are usually found only in much larger cities.

Although the common perception of Santa Barbara is as a playground for the rich and famous, the reality is more middle-America than you might think, with an average income only slightly higher than California as a whole, and a diverse ethnic makeup and heritage. Notable for its California Mission-style architecture (a long-standing local ordinance ensures that all commercial construction follow the Mission theme, which results in a plethora of red-tiled roofs and faux adobe supermarkets), local residents are intensely proud of their city's roots and traditions, and a number of hugely popular festivals throughout the year celebrate the many cultures found within the city limits.

things to do in Santa Barbara

Beaches
Along the Waterfront. Santa Barbara's most popular beach, East Beach, is a pristine stretch of blindingly white sand framed by postcard quality palm trees, surrounding hills and nearby harbor. For less crowded beachcombing, try nearby Leadbetter Beach, or further up the road, isolated Arroyo Burro (known to locals as Hendry's Beach,) where dog lovers bring their pets to frolic in a no-leashes-needed surfside dog park. Even more isolated is Butterfly Beach, tucked away in a cove beneath the high-toned Biltmore Hotel in Montecito.

Golf
Santa Barbara has numerous private and public golf courses located in and around the city. Hidden Oaks, Twin Lakes, and Ocean Meadows are 9 holes courses that provide budget prices for a round of golf.

Hiking
From the Mesa to the Santa Ynez Mountains, the unique geography of Santa Barbara provides amazing opportunities to see panoramic views and abundant wildlife. Hiking guides and maps are easily obtained at any local bookstore, well-equipped newstand, or selected stores in tourist-heavy locations such as downtown. Examples include the Douglas Family Preserve, a great off-leash open space that often serves as the backdrop for numerous weddings, and East Camino Cielo Road off of Highway 154, which has several spots one can park and find a little trail to hike on, or even just sit and enjoy the view.

Paragliding
Instruction of beginner and intermediate pilot. Fly solo from the training hill at Elings Park.

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