Because it would be a pity to know of this city only the credits of the famous series, here are some of the attractions of the capital of the American Riviera.
The Architecture of the City
Santa Barbara proudly displays its Hispanic past. The city, like many in the region, was founded by the Spaniards around its Presidio (military base) and Jesuit mission in the early 1780s. This architectural heritage was reactivated in 1925 when the city suffered a violent earthquake. While most Victorian homes were destroyed, Spanish colonial buildings, based on indigenous construction techniques, were much more resistant. It is thus in the architectural style of the adobe (low constructions with white walls and red tiles) that Santa Barbara is rebuilt. The Red Tile Walking Tour, a self-guided pedestrian tour, allows you to visit the main historical sites of this human-sized city.
It participates, legitimately, in the reputation of this tourist resort. The long white sandy beaches at the foot of the mountains are very pleasant. Of course, they offer all kinds of water activities, but it absolutely worths to take the bicycle paths that follow the seafront, for example the Santa Barbara Beach Trail Park that allows you to reach the nearby town of Montecito. A little further on, 29 miles from the coast, the Channel Islands National Park promises you a very authentic nature break for hiking, diving, or paddling.
The Wine-growing Hinterland
The Santa Ynez valley, 45 minutes from Santa Barbara, will delight wine lovers. Its Mediterranean climate has allowed the development of numerous vineyards where a variety of grape varieties flourish: Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Like the heroes of the film Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne) you can opt for a road trip, by car or by bike, to visit the many vineyards that welcome you with great hospitality for wine tastings. The other option is to stay in the charming town of Los Olivos which has many wine tasting, restaurants, and artisan shops. If you are short on time, you can stick to the Urban Wine Trail (located in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone), where you can discover the region’s best award-winning wines in over 20 tasting rooms.
The proximity of the Getty Museum
If you want to enjoy Los Angeles but live in a quieter place, Santa Barbara is an interesting option. Thus, the famous Getty Center is only 1h20 away by car and can be the subject of a day trip. It is a magical place, set on the hill of Breetwood, which assures you an incredible view of Los Angeles. Opened in 1997, it brings together a university research center and a breathtaking collection covering the world history of art, excluding the 20th century.
But the interest of the Getty Center also lies in its unique gardens and architecture. The architect Richard Meier chose modern and pure forms as well as travertine, a clear porous rock, for a luminous result. . . literally and figuratively!