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Santa Barbara’s wine country is world-renowned

A view of Santa Barbara’s coastline.

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Santa Barbara’s Butterfly Beach

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Santa Barbara – the American Riviera

Santa Barbara, known as the “American Riviera”, is just 90 miles north of Los Angeles. Its natural beauty, pristine beaches, local-inspired gourmet cuisine, and nearby vineyards have been beckoning Southern Californians for years. It is sophisticated and simple, refined yet relaxed. Famous visitors, natives, and residents, including Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe, and pop star Katy Perry, make Santa Barbara somewhat of a mecca for the talented, intellectual, environmentally minded and creative types.

Santa Barbara is located at the unofficial border between Northern and Southern California. Throughout the city Spanish Colonial architecture is fused with modern details, giving it a casual elegance lacking in many other California beach towns. It is known for its farm-to-table cuisine, boutique wineries, art galleries, hiking and biking trails, marine life, gardens and estates, and its rugged remote coastlines.

The city has a storied history from its missionary days, when in 1786 The Santa Barbara Mission became the tenth of the 21 California missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans, and a romantic history as well. Hollywood icons like Sir Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, and more recently, Gwyneth Paltrow, choose the upscale beach town as the locale for their nuptials.

Such popularity in Hollywood is no surprise – it was home to California’s first major movie studios and film’s early pioneers. In fact, legendary director Cecil B. DeMille once shot its beaches for the sandscape scenes in The Ten Commandments. In years past, the city has seen everyone from Albert Einstein and author T.C. Boyle and was host to one of the nation’s first Earth Day celebrations in 1970.

The Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market is a must to visit while there. Considered “world famous,” you can mix and mingle with local farmers who boast unique produce like mission figs, Meyer lemons, walnut oils, and wild mushrooms. A visit to the market is one of the best ways to get a real sense of the culture in Santa Barbara in addition to its passionate support of all things local. Additionally, with over 22,000 acres of vineyards, a visit to Santa Barbara wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its wine country.  

While in town, one of the best, most relaxing ways to see the sights and get a sense of the landscape is to take a trolley tour. Along the way, you will pass the impressive Santa Barbara Mission, the Chromatic Gate rainbow art statue on the East Beach Waterfront, and the largest fig tree in town – it has a canopy 50 feet in diameter. If visiting on a Sunday, stop off at Stearn’s Wharf to visit the Santa Barbara Beach Art Show held weekly. Also, consider a visit to the 37-acre Ganna Walska Lotusland in neighboring Montecito, which showcases an extravagant collection of gardens and thousands of rare and exotic plants.

One of the best attractions in Santa Barbara is the Zoo. The 30-acre property itself is unlike most zoos, featuring views of the surrounding mountains and ocean throughout. The Santa Barbara Zoo has approximately 500 animals in their care and an impactful conservation program. While there, take a ride on the Zoo Train, one of two C.P Huntington trains that circle the Zoo’s perimeter.

For an insider’s tour of the zoo, the VIP Experience Backstage Pass allows you to work alongside an experienced zookeeper for interactive encounters with animals such as giraffes and elephants.

Hotel options in Santa Barbara are plentiful, including the ultra luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and the newly renovated Hyatt Santa Barbara.

 

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