Santa Barbara Travel Guide
Santa Barbara is the self-styled "American Riviera." It is the loveliest of California's coastal cities, oozing with Mediterranean charm. It has reliably good, warm weather with blue skies and sunshine. It has gorgeous beaches with volleyball courts and board rentals, and a wharf packed with souvenir vendors and seafood joints. It has a downtown abuzz with pedestrians and shoppers bobbing in and out of hip boutiques and luxury shops, and diners sipping locally grown and bottled wines at upscale restaurants and sidewalk cafés. It has more than its fair share of resident Hollywood celebrities, as well as some of America's most exclusive neighborhoods – the likes of Hope Ranch and Montecito – with mansions tucked away behind manicured hedges and gated entries with palm-lined driveways. It has world-class museums and art galleries, and arguably the liveliest Summer Solstice festival in the country. And it has the most prominent of California's Franciscan missions, together with more in it that is reminiscent of Old Spain than perhaps any other city in California – Spanish-colonial architecture, with white stucco buildings with red-tiled roofs, and 18th- and 19th-century adobes, brick-paved plazas and atmospheric arcades built around Spanish-style courtyards, Spanish gardens and terrazzo walks, Spanish street names, and dollops of rich, colorful Spanish-colonial history. In fact, an exploration of downtown Santa Barbara is akin to a romp through Old Spain.
Santa Barbara is situated on the beautiful Southern California coast, backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains, just 90 miles north of Los Angeles, or 331 miles south of San Francisco.
Santa Barbara can be reached quite easily on Highway 101 directly from either Los Angeles (90 miles), driving north, or from San Francisco (331 miles), going south. The nearest international airport is LAX in Los Angeles.
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