Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Drive past Santa Barbara on the 101 Freeway at sixty five miles per hour and you may miss the ultimate California coastal city. But take the Cabrillo Boulevard exit, cruise slowly down the gorgeous palm lined avenue hugging the Pacific and experience Santa Barbara’s laid back glamour and sophistication.

This cosmopolitan city, called America’s Riviera, packs so much within its limits : a perfect climate, historic wharf, upscale State Street shopping, bistros and restaurants, extravagant homes, world class art museums and galleries, a multitude of outdoor activities, entertainment venues, and the city’s jewel, the “Queen of the Missions,” Mission Santa Barbara.

There’s too much to see and do in lovely Santa Barbara in one day. Be sure to drive along the ocean on Cabrillo Boulevard and stop to put your feet in the sand. On weekends in the summer, the sidewalks bordering the beach are turned into an arts and crafts spectacular. There is parking out on Stearns Wharf for the shops and restaurants over the water. For delicious fresh seafood and chowder, the Wharf Restaurant can’t be beat for Santa Barbara oceanfront dining, especially for dinner, when lights shimmer on the water.

Whether you visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, shop in El Paseo and Paseo Nuevo Shopping Centers, drop in at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, or wander the Santa Barbara Mission grounds, make time for a leisurely lunch. A great place for gourmet burgers, salads or tacos is the Shoreline Beach Café. Across from Santa Barbara City College at 801 Shoreline Drive, the little restaurant not only has incredible fish tacos, their signature dish, but if you can get a table out back, you’ll have your toes under the warm sand, a bite of tangy fish or ahi taco in your mouth and the feeling, watching the surfers in the rolling surf, that life doesn’t get much better than this.

Shoreline Beach Café is just past the Santa Barbara Harbor entrance and then left at the stop light. There’s free parking right in front but if those are filled, there’s a pay lot right next door.

South of Santa Barbara is the Beverly Hills type community of Montecito, with palatial homes belonging to movie stars and tycoons. Oprah Winfrey has an opulent estate in Montecito.