Santa Barbara is often compared to the Cote d’Azur for its stunning beauty. It is a dramatic combination of the sparkling ocean coast, the red crores surrounded by lush parks and the mountain ranges in the hinterland. The city is located on the most beautiful part of the U.S. West Coast 18 miles north of L.A. and 530 miles south of San Francisco. The beautiful, sandy beaches with an abundance of sun oriented south are the reason why Southern California is considered to be its northernmost point. Residents of northern California consider Santa Barbara County to be their southernmost because of the temperate climate and native fields at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
In the hinterland of Santa Barbara is Franceschi Park. It is an 18-acre large botanical garden with an enviable collection of diverse exotic plants and a vantage point overlooking the city’s panorama. The Santa Barbara Mission was built in 1786 (22 missions in total) by the Spanish Franciscans. The Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a beautiful 1929 Spanish-Amur building. El Mirador is also one of the tallest buildings in Santa Barbara. The richly decorated Spirit of the Sea Fountain and the beautifully landscaped gardens and lawns of this building are frequent backdrops of various performances, weddings, etc. Main State Street runs through the heart of Downtown and enters the oceanfront, connecting the Downtown Historic Arts District and Waterfront District. In the Co Co neighborhood you can discover the bohemian side of Santa Barbara with plenty of bars, restaurants, markets, shops.
At the Port of Santa Barbara you can board one of the quad-jet catamarans and go sightseeing with gray whales and dolphins. The long sandy beach divides the port of Santa Barbara and the dock to the west and east beaches. For those who don’t like the city beaches 11 miles to Los Angeles, there are Carpenteria State Beach and Rincon Beach, California’s most popular surf destinations. Next you walk to Stearn Wharf, the oldest shoreline of the West Coast on wooden poles (1872) that survived the Pacific’s whimsical nature, wars, fires and earthquakes. Until the 1930s, there was a gym and a civilian port of the city and a floating casino until World War II. Then it becomes a military dock. Today it is a striking feature of the city with its shops, museums and bars.
The former industrial city hub is completely different from the rest of the city. It is a city center with surf equipment stores, galleries, art studios, wineries and workshops. This is where the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum is located. The museum is open to visitors on Sundays from 12 to 5 pm. Admission is free.