Have you ever been to Santa Barbara? If not you’re really missing out. There’s a reason why it’s nicknamed “The American Riviera” and I should know because I was lucky enough not just to visit several times but I had the opportunity to live there for nearly eight years and what a wonderful eight years it was, had it not been for circumstances beyond my control at the time, I’d probably still be living there, because it’s the kind of place that is extremely hard to leave behind.
They call it The American Riviera because of it’s gorgeous coastline, beautiful public beaches and it’s extremely moderate temperature all year round. The average temperature in Santa Barbara hovers around 70° F with an average low of just 53° F. I remember one year that there was a week that was over 100° F every day and everyone freaked out because 99% of people who live there don’t have AC in their homes. There was also one single year that we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. Other than that, the temperature and weather is near perfect!
Santa Barbara is probably one of the most beautiful cities in all of California, with its pristine beaches with the mountains as their backdrop there’s not much of a greater view anywhere. On top of that the charm of this old Spanish city with it’s Terra Cotta tiled rooftops is something one doesn’t forget easily.
There is a lot of pride in this city for it’s beauty and for it’s commitment to the environment. Santa Barbara was “green” before people even knew what it meant to be “green”. They have always led the state and the nation with their love and care for the environment and it shines through the beauty of this wonderful city.
There is so much to see and do in Santa Barbara and surrounding areas that there is no way anyone could ever get bored there, I know I never did. The beaches to begin with are simply awesome and let’s not forget the parks, there’s plenty of those to experience as well.
Arroyo Burro Beach is a great place to stroll along the sandy shore, enjoy whales passing by, surfing, fishing and enjoy a picnic on their grassy picnic area that has BBQ grills, picnic tables, benches and easy access restrooms. They also have equestrian trails.
Butterfly Beach is west facing and this is where you can see some of the nicest sunsets. This beach is close to a very exclusive neighborhood in Santa Barbara and it also attracts a somewhat interesting crowd that you might like watching if you are a people watcher.
East Beach is the beach that sits right in the middle of everything that’s happening in Santa Barbara. It is ideally located so that if you get tired of bathing in the sun, playing Frisbee or volleyball, you can easily find a restaurant nearby to enjoy, hop on over to their nice little zoo or take a nice stroll on Stern’s Wharf. Only issue with this beach is the parking and you usually have to park a ways away because this is the most popular beach in Santa Barbara.
Both El Capitan Beach and Gaviota Beach are also State Parks and both are quite lovely with their gorgeous clean sandy beaches, great views, where you can even see whales and dolphins if you are lucky enough. Gaviota is about 20 minutes away from Santa Barbara but is worth visiting.
Other beaches available are Goleta Beach, Leadbetter Beach, Refugio Beach & State Park and West Beach, all have their own personalities and should all be visited if you have time.
If you don’t want to go to the beach, no problem, there are plenty of parks you can visit as well.
There’s Alameda Park which is a very family oriented picnic and playground spot. There’s Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden which is great for strolling through some interesting low water gardens. Chase Palm Park is great for outdoor music events, has a cool carousel, playground, stream side walking paths and great for a picnic. Douglas Family Preserve is a great undeveloped park that is perfect for walking your dogs without a leash and has great views from the bluffs of the ocean. Other parks include Elings Park, Franceschi Park, Lake Los Carneros, Oak Park, Orpet Park, Parma Park, Rocky Nook Park, Tuckers Grove, Shoreline Park, and Stow Grove Park.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention both the Mission Rose Garden and the Botanical Gardens that are both incredible and located in the same area as the Santa Barbara Mission. These gardens are simply breathtaking and are a must see when you visit. But what you really shouldn’t miss is the mission itself. The Santa Barbara Mission is part of the mission system that runs all through California and is considered by historians and many others to be the most beautiful of all the California missions! Mission Santa Barbara is officially called “Queen of the Missions” because of its graceful architecture and beauty. It was founded in 1786 and still functions as a Catholic church to this very day. It’s a must see because words can’t do it justice.
Other neat places to see when visiting Santa Barbara are:
• The Carriage Museum – Dedicated to restoring vehicles from the past.
• The Waterfront – This is the heart of Santa Barbara with three beaches, restaurants, the wharf, a museum, harbor and even a skate park.
• The Courthouse
• Santa Barbara Zoo
• Santa Barbara Museum of Art
• El Presidio State Historic Park – Probably one of the most significant historical structures in the city.
• Casa de La Guerra
• Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum
• Stow House & Railroad Museum
And if that’s not enough for you here are some of the activities that you can find to do while visiting this lovely little city:
• Trolley tours of Santa Barbara
• Whale & Dolphin watching
• Horseback riding
Santa Barbara is an incredible gem on the West Coast of California you don’t want to miss out on.