ABOUT SANTA BARBARA
Santa Barbara is located about 100 miles WNW of Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast. This stretch of coast along southern Santa Barbara County is often referred to as the “American Riviera” because of its Mediterranean climate. The Santa Ynez Mountains, an east-west trending range, rise dramatically behind the city, with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet. Covered with chaparral and with sandstone outcrops, they make a famously scenic backdrop to the town. Nearer to town, and directly east and adjacent to Mission Santa Barbara, is a hill known locally as the “Riviera” traversed by “Alameda Padre Serra” (shortened APS) the pathway of Father Serra. The hillside, made accessible by the advent of the automobile early in the 20th century, is now built with relatively expensive homes. A spectacularly beautiful area looking south toward the Pacific and the Channel Islands and having sunrise to sunset views, Santa Barbara became the winter destination for the titans of post-Civil War America. Private railroad cars clustered on the sidings at Santa Barbara. The Potter Hotel overlooking Santa Barbara’s West Beach was a world renowned resort. Owners of industry visited Santa Barbara and chose Santa Barbara hillside locations for their grand estates. Others preferred the beach and built palatially there, from Sandyland Cove, Padaro Lane, the city beaches, and west to what is now Goleta. The city’s prime homesites were built out with family homes by the first decades of the 20th century. The city sustained heavy damage in an earthquake on June 29, 1925, which was followed by substantial rebuilding.
The architectural image of Santa Barbara is the Mission revival style of architecture adopted by city leaders after the 1925 earthquake destroyed much of the downtown commercial district. The domestic architecture of Santa Barbara is predominantly California bungalows built in the early decades of the 20th century, with many Victorian homes adorning the “Upper East” and Spanish style homes designed by well known California architects in Santa Barbara and on estates in Montecito and Hope Ranch. The city has passed ordinances against billboards and regulates outdoor advertising, so the city is relatively free of the advertising clutter found in most American cities.
Hendry’s Beach – OfficiallynamedArroyo Burro Beach, this beach has an ideal location, a sense of privacy and plenty of amenities. The only drawback is the lack of parking. Go early and linger. It’s worth the extra sunscreen.
Butterfly Beach – One of the few west-facing beaching, you can actually catch a sunset here. Private and in the midst of a very exclusive neighborhood, this beach draws an interesting crowd.
Carpinteria State and City Beaches – You get two beaches rolled into one very long stretch of gorgeous sand. The beauty of the State Beach is you can set up camp surf-side. The beauty of the City beach is its easy access. Many a local brings lunch to eat and watch the waves.
East Beach – East Beach is in the middle of everything and has it all. If you get bored with the sun and volleyball, you can find a restaurant, swing by the zoo, rent some blades or walk along the wharf. The only drawback is the parking. Go early and make a day of it or go later and prepare to walk. Either way, this is a wonderful beach for just about any member of your group.
El Capitan Beach (and State Park) – This is a beautiful beach for those who love beaches. It’s not the biggest in town, but it has plenty of sand, and the level of privacy is delicious. Since it is away from the city there is a sense of getting away, even though you don’t go too far.
Gaviota Beach (and State Park) – This is a quirky little beach about 20 minutes north of Goleta. It has a railway trestle running between the parking lot and the beach and a very long, tall fishing pier.
Goleta Beach – Another favorite of just about everybody. This beach is for the easily bored. Between the excellent restaurant, volleyball, picnic and fishing facilities, you could entertain an entire cadre of folks – which is probably why its a local favorite for company picnics.
Leadbetter Beach – Centrally located and busy, this beach offers plenty to do. It is a popular haunt for windsurfers, catamaran pilots, surfers and walkers. Leadbetter is between Shoreline park and the breakwater. Each summer this beach hosts weekly sporting events, parties and it’s not uncommon to see a radio station hosting something interesting.
Refugio Beach (and State Park) – Just a bit further out than El Capitan, this beach is truly unique. It has a charm all its own that makes it worth the extra ten-minute drive up the coast.
West Beach – Although not the most glamorous, this beach hosts a number of sporting events, including the Hawaiian outrigger lessons. Nestled between the Wharf and the Breakwater, you can enjoy the boats coming and going, as well as the variety of people walking by.
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