Go Coastal in Santa Barbara

By: Visit Santa Barbara

***Editor’s Note: The following article is one viewpoint on the best California Vacation spot. On July 30, another viewpoint was published in the article, “When Life’s a Beach, Head to the Mountains!

Come summer, the living is extra easy on “The American Riviera.” Stunning Santa Barbara is a gem of a destination nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean on the southern Central Coast. You’ll settle into the local rhythm of ease and relaxation the moment you arrive. But don’t let the laid-back pace fool you — while Santa Barbara is indeed incredibly rejuvenating, there’s plenty of excitement to offer stimulating the mind, body and spirit.

Santa Barbara’s diverse topography creates an epic outdoor adventurers’ playground. Extreme athletes, ocean-lovers and forest bathers alike can get in on the action — from paragliding and stand up paddle boarding to mountain biking and nature walking. Adventure outfitters lead all sorts of excursions, be it kayaking in sea caves and snorkeling at the islands or cycling through wine country and hiking in the hills.

The city’s compact size ensures you won’t have to sacrifice any creature comforts in between surf sessions, beach going and sunset sails. Enjoy the best of all worlds and delve into the cultural and culinary abundance the city serves up on the daily. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to where to eat — Santa Barbara chefs work serious magic with regional ingredients sourced from local waters, ranches, farms and orchards. Dozens of wineries are scattered throughout the downtown Urban Wine Trail, and craft breweries and small batch distilleries are also in the local libations mix.

Step back in time and take advantage of spectacular photo opportunities at historic architectural landmarks like Mission Santa Barbara, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse — the 360-degree view from the top of the clocktower is a must-see. Meander along State Street shopping and browsing the independent boutiques. Explore vibrant creative neighborhoods like The Funk Zone, Presidio District and Lagoon District, where you can meet talented makers.

Catch a show at iconic venues like the Santa Barbara Bowl, Granada Theatre and Lobero Theatre. See incredible works of art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, and scout masterpieces for your home collection at the many galleries throughout Santa Barbara, Montecito and Summerland. If you’re traveling with kids, the Santa Barbara Zoo, MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will entertain the whole family.

Find more inspiration for your Santa Barbara getaway at SantaBarbaraCA.com.

By Visit Santa Barbara, the nonprofit destination marketing organization for the Santa Barbara South Coast (including the cities and towns of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito and Summerland). The primary mission of Visit Santa Barbara is to enhance the economies of the City of Santa Barbara, South Coast communities and Santa Barbara County areas through tourism marketing that increases business revenue, tax revenue and creates jobs.

Photos by Blake Bronstad, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara