Life is laid back in the utopia of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is located in the southern part of California, less than 100 miles north of Los Angeles. This laidback city on the Pacific Ocean is a wonderland of green parks and colorful, flower-filled gardens like Alameda and the Mission Rose Garden, harbor-side seafood restaurants, peaceful beaches and marine museums. Mild weather and varied activities attract the rich and famous who own houses that cluster on the hills surrounding this spectacular place, and yachts that dance to the tune of the seaside breeze. But, the main course on the menu here is rest and relaxation.
Things to do
If you love nature and wildlife, whale-watching tours take you out into the Pacific to cruise areas that are filled with aquatic life. Over 30 different species of whale reside in the Santa Barbara channel, giving you a great assortment of magnificent creatures to witness. From orcas to blue whales, you'll see the largest mammals on earth in their natural home. Schools of dolphins sometimes frolic alongside the boats as well.
Boat tours are not limited to whale watching since Santa Barbara is also a gorgeous, romantic town. If you're on a weekend getaway with your significant other, climb aboard a variety of nighttime boat rides for a dinner-and-wine experience out on the waves.
Sunday arts and crafts show
Every Sunday, there is an arts and crafts show located on Cabrillo Boulevard, which runs right along the main beach of Santa Barbara. Locals come down to the sands to set up and exhibit their handmade wares. They sell everything from paintings to handmade toys, pottery and lawn art. This great event is perfect when you're seeking a unique souvenir that embodies your trip.
State Street is the main avenue in downtown Santa Barbara, where visitors can find myriad activities. It provides the best shopping, entertainment and cuisine that the town has to offer, and also conveniently links straight to Cabrillo Boulevard. State Street is a fantastic part of town to visit during the day for retail therapy inside designer stores, quirky art galleries, jewelers and local Californian haunts, but you can also come back in the evenings for a taste of its unique nightlife. Live music spills from bars and clubs, and the atmosphere is electric.
When you're traveling to Santa Barbara for a family vacation, it's not hard to keep the kids happy. The beaches offer rentals for surfing, boogie boarding, and even tandem bikes to travel along the main beach and up Fisherman's Wharf. The Santa Barbara Zoo is also conveniently located within a few miles of Cabrillo Boulevard and is home to a wide variety of animals. Its large size and additional activities can provide an entire day of entertainment for the whole family.
Where to stay - beach retreats
Staying beachside is a favored option for travelers to Santa Barbara, whether you want to indulge at luxury resorts like the Bacara, where spa facilities and two miles of sands are perfect for leaving your worldly worries behind, or you prefer inns such as Montecito, which was commissioned by Charlie Chaplin and sits close to Butterfly Beach. Hotels range from $50 a night budget accommodations to more exclusive stays that can be upwards of $400 per night.
Summer Solstice Parade
Every Summer in Santa Barbara, State Street hosts the Summer Solstice Parade. This parade has been around since the 1970s and draws in over 100,000 spectators. Similar to Mardis Gras, the Summer Solstice Parade creatively entertains its audience with incredible costumes and vibrant colors. A variety of vendors from the area come down to serve food, drinks and souvenirs that complete the experience.
There is never a bad time to visit Santa Barbara. The weather is beautiful all year round, and the area rarely experiences cloudy or rainy days. Average temperatures range between 58 and 74 degrees, making it the perfect beach climate.
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