I’m standing on the beach in Santa Barbara, California, and almost can’t believe what I’m seeing. Pristine white sand beaches and panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean are framed by gentle rolling mountains towering over a lush landscape dotted with the historic Spanish Colonial architecture that gives this famous resort town its distinct Mediterranean flavor. I suddenly understand why Santa Barbara is called “The American Riviera.”
But it’s not just the beaches that make this popular vacation retreat approximately 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles one of America’s top coastal destinations. With a thriving arts community, star-studded nightlife and high-end food and drink scene that rivals that of many larger cities, Santa Barbara is everything you could want in a classic California beach vacation – and then some.