Santa Barbara has a long and unique history; once solely inhabited by the Chumash tribes, the Spanish colonial influence of the European settlers remains very strong today. Nicknamed the American Riviera, Santa Barbara just oozes charm. In keeping with its Mediterranean style you won’t find any skyscrapers here, just gorgeous beaches, great shopping, the historic mission and the stunning county courthouse, all surrounded by mountains, national parks and some incredible wine regions.
There are plenty of tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail and in nearby wine country, the Santa Ynez Mountains. State Street has world-class shopping and restaurants, serving some of the best Mexican food in California. Jutting out into the ocean is Stearns Wharf, built in 1872 by John Peck Stearns and remains the oldest working wharf in California. There are many beaches to explore, but with picnic areas, volleyball courts and paved walkways, one of our favourites is East Beach, for its gentle surf and inviting sand that is perfect for the whole family.
In more recent times, locals have witnessed the growth of the Funk Zone – a bohemian-style district, where you will find art galleries, tasting rooms, artisan restaurants, craft breweries and the odd surfboard shop thrown in for good measure!
Santa Barbara is also a gateway to the Channel Islands Marine Preserve. This sanctuary is a federally-designated protected area for hundreds of species, sensitive habitats, shipwrecks and maritime heritage artefacts.