Romantic Santa Barbara Getaway
The leisurely pace of life, the beaches and the water sports, the numerous restaurants, mountain hiking, horseback riding, and of course, people watching makes this the ideal getaway.
Santa Barbara is one of southern California's most spectacular towns and a sense of wonder assails you the moment you set eyes on it. This charming town is nestled between miles of white-sand beaches in the south and the stunning Santa Ynez Mountains in the north. Known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is full of elegant buildings, tiled galleries, arcade windows filled with luxury goods, and plenty of wonderful restaurants. The climate here is pretty much ideal throughout the year with an average temperature of 70 degrees. The cool sea breeze is a bonus.
Mediterranean style buildings and houses with red tiled roofs, wrought iron gates, and whitewashed adobe walls gives the place its Spanish flavor. It feels as if you have entered a time warp or the set of a period film. Gardens of bougainvillea and citrus, and streets lined with palm trees add to the beauty of the town. The surrounding countryside is as romantic and picturesque as the town, with many vineyards dotting the rolling hillsides. The Santa Ynez Valley is especially beautiful. The beaches in Santa Barbara face the south, not the west, but you will still see brilliant sunsets.
As you would expect, Santa Barbara is a favorite with the wealthy crowd and many of them - Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Connors, Kirk Douglas, Brad Pitt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Julia Child, to name a few - have residences here. High-class style is the norm and real estate prices are over the top. However, the budget traveler need not worry, Santa Barbara offers a lot for everyone. Naturally, people watching is one of the great pastimes.
Santa Barbara has a great history and once had a thriving Native American population. The Spanish influence began with missionaries, who came here in the late 18th century. The Spanish-Mediterranean town that one finds now is a planned community, built after the devastating earthquake of 1925 that more or less leveled the town. The authorities decided to retain the Spanish ambience when they rebuilt the city and a strict building code remains in place. Even new buildings are very graceful with rounded archways, adobe walls, beautifully done tile work, and terra cotta roofs.
Another wonderful thing about the place is the conscious effort to promote the use of public transportation, so there are fewer cars on the road. Busses are plentiful and there are bike paths and walking trails all over the city. The entire shoreline has an off-road bike path.
More than anything else, Santa Barbara is a fun place. The leisurely pace of life, the beaches and the water sports, the numerous restaurants, mountain hiking, horseback riding, and of course, people watching makes this the ideal getaway. It is a great art, entertainment, and cultural center with more than a 100 galleries and museums. Add to this the greenery of subtropical and Mediterranean foliage and the beautiful gardens and what you have is a wonder; the Spanish missionaries indeed chose the right place!