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Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Just a quick drive up from Los Angeles lies the city of Santa Barbara, also lovingly referred to as “The American Riviera.” This seaside town earns its nickname through its beautiful coastline, miles of pristine beach and the two green hills that en-wrap the city; all of which lend an air of health and beauty to the Spanish-tiled roofs which line the streets.

Visitors here enjoy a mean annual temperature of 72 F, and with over 300 days of sunshine per year, people can usually be found outside enjoying the abundance of the city parks, the decorated Botanical Gardens, some of the many water sports activities or simply doing some window shopping along the popular State Street. The area is also widely known for its excellent wine offerings (the movie Sideways was filmed just over the first crest of hills) and many of the local wineries have banded together and formed a bit of a wine trail in the industrial heart of the city.

While here, be on the lookout for Hollywood celebrities on vacation, local bakeries opening their doors early and all the dining and beach-going you desire.
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Old Mission Santa Barbara
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Also known as the Santa Barbara Mission or simply “The Mission,” Mission Santa Barbara has come to be more than just a Catholic outpost; it has come to represent all that is historic and cultural in Santa Barbara. A Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan Order in 1786 and built upon a hill overlooking the valley, The Mission, with its beautiful construction and commanding position on the landscape, is a long-standing Santa Barbara favorite.

Rich in history, the missions of California were Spanish colonial outposts and served to help colonize the area. Known for its rolling lawns and rose garden, which are open to the public year round, Mission Santa Barbara is one of the longest continuously operating missions in California. It still takes parishioners to this day, thus maintaining the longest unbroken tradition of choral singing among the California missions.

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Leadbetter Beach
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One of the most beautiful beaches near downtown Santa Barbara, Leadbetter Beach is often filled with windsurfers, joggers, and sunbathers. Its light surf makes its an excellent spot for low-key and beginning surfing. It’s one of the more scenic spots close to the city, with an expansive golden sand beach and grass lawn. There are also facilities for picnicking and barbecue, as well as public restrooms and showers. Often sailboats can be seen cruising just off the coast from Leadbetter, as it’s located next to the Santa Barbara Harbor. Lifeguards are on duty during daylight hours. For these reasons, it is one of the more popular public beach areas. Though it can be crowded, it is often bustling with activity compared to other spots on the coast. It’s considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in California.

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More Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Montecito

Montecito

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Montecito is a small but wealthy town along California's coast. The town started out as a popular vacation destination more than 100 years ago because of the pleasant climate and natural beauty. Some visitors loved it so much they didn't want to leave, and they decided to move to Montecito. Today many celebrities call this town home. It's still a popular place for a relaxing escape, and there are plenty of hotels, shops, and restaurants with outdoor patios.

One of Montecito's big draws is its natural landscape and environment. This small town's coastline is home to some of the area's most beautiful beaches including Miramar Beach, Fernald's Point, Hammonds Point, and Butterfly Beach. Some areas boast calm waters while others are well known for their waves. Popular activities include surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, sunbathing, and boating. Since the coast faces west, it is also the perfect place to watch the sunset.

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Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

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Solvang

Solvang

3 Tours and Activities
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Goleta

Goleta

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Goleta is a small coastal town west of Santa Barbara, CA. The town has a mild climate with temperatures typically within 10 degrees of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and warm winds, making this a pleasant place to live or vacation. The town hugs the coast providing plenty of opportunities for enjoying the beach as well as swimming and other water activities. The nearby Santa Ynez Mountains make for a picturesque backdrop. They are also the source of the warm, or sometimes even hot, winds that blow in occasionally.

Many of Goleta's residents commute into Santa Barbara to work at a variety of companies or at the University of California Santa Barbara. The town is also known for its Monarch Butterflies. In October each year the butterflies return to Goleta from their summer home and congregate in massive colonies in the Eucalyptus trees in the Goleta Butterfly Grove.

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Channel Islands

Channel Islands

Just off the Californian coast, dotting the horizon like some distant land, the beautiful Channel Islands are a favorite escape of every southern Californian. Hiking, kayaking, biking, fishing, surfing, and camping are popular pastimes for those who frequent these amazing local treasures, but the Channel Islands are more than just a quick weekend getaway. Five of the eight of the Channel Islands comprise the Channel Islands National Parks - a conservation zone which protects thousands of years of animal, plant, and archeological resources which can be found nowhere else on earth.

The most popular Channel Islands are: Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island and Santa Catalina Island.

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