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Spotlight on:
Santa Barbara

Exploring Central California's doorway to Pacific

Do your vacation aspirations include seeing the Pacific Ocean in a wonderfully warm climate without fear of rain? Then plan a trip to a place that has over 300 days of sunshine a year and is surrounded by majestic mountains overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Spend your vacation in Santa Barbara, California.

Santa Barbara is just 90 miles west of Los Angeles and is called the American Riviera because of the Mediterranean climate year-round. It's the perfect spot for RVers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Call one of the many RV parks home for the week and you're ready to explore the area.

Santa Barbara Mission
Santa Barbara was founded in 1786 as a Franciscan mission. Today, visitors can still visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara and explore the beautiful church, historic cemetery, museum, gift shop and 10 acres of lavishly landscaped gardens.
If you happen to be visiting over the Memorial Day holiday, make a point to stop by the I Madonnari, an Italian street-painting festival. This festival takes sidewalk chalk to an entirely new level. Artists transform the streets and sidewalks of the Old Mission into a work of art. Admission is free.

Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens
Just minutes from the Old Mission along Mission Canyon Road, you'll find one of the prettiest places in Santa Barbara—the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. Over 1,000 native species of plants fill 65 acres in scenic glory. You'll find a garden shop and a grower's nursery or you can just walk the trails through the redwoods and along Mission Creek. This is the perfect place to spend the day for anyone with a green thumb or for those who wish they had a green thumb. The garden is open daily, rain or shine, except on major holidays.

Coronado Butterfly Preserve
If you like flowers, chances are you'll like butterflies, too. The Coronado Butterfly Preserve is home to native plants, birds and other wildlife. The property attracts butterflies on their annual migration along the California coast, so visitors are bound to find lots of species. Walk along Devereux Creek, which runs through the preserve, or take one of the many trails that encircle the area. The best time to see butterflies is between November and February. The best time of the day is early afternoon. You can spot them in clumps hanging from the native eucalyptus trees.

Need a little retail therapy? Santa Barbara has just what you need. There are a number of shopping districts to choose from. If you're looking for that perfect gift that no one else would ever think to buy, make a stop at the Funk Zone. Sure, the shopping district sounds a little odd, but you'll be able to find art, bohemian shops, artisan wines, gourmet goods and even Santa Barbara surfing gear. Or stop by the La Cumbre Plaza. This high-end mall has lots of names you'll love. At La Arcada, you'll find nook shops sure to keep you busy all day long.

After you've been shopping, you're bound to be hungry. Luckily, Santa Barbara is a delicious destination. There are many choices that will please any palette. From tacos to burgers, sizzling steaks to barbecue as well as delectable seafood cuisine. Santa Barbara restaurants feature fresh catch-of-the-day selections such as ridgeback shrimp, spiny lobster or rock crab. There is also seabass, rockfish, oysters, mussels, clams and scallops—enough to make any fish lover happy.

Santa Barbara does one more thing really well…wine! You'll find nearly 100 wineries near Santa Barbara all waiting to impress and enhance your experience. Travel on one of these wine trails and you'll have to keep reminding yourself that you're in California, not Italy or France, although the wine is just as good if not better. You can pick up a map and do a self-guided wine tour or you can hop in the back of a limo and let someone else do the driving while you taste the luscious libations along the way.

Santa Barbara Beaches
Pack one of those bottles of wine you just bought along with some cheese and crackers and head on down to one of the many miles of beach that washes ashore in Santa Barbara. Pour you and your sweetie a glass of cabernet and watch the sun sizzle into the sea. If you can do this, great, but if you have the dogs and the kids along, that's okay too, because the beaches are as beautiful in the afternoon as they are in the evening. Sit on the sand and watch for whales and dolphins or help the little ones build their very own sand castle. Pack a picnic and sun block and you can still take a bottle of wine. We won't tell.

Can't wait till tomorrow?
Before you head back to the RV, you might want to check out a few more attractions like the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Ty Warner Sea Center at Stearns Wharf or the Santa Barbara Zoo.

For More Information:
Visit Santa Barbara

California Travel and Tourism Commission