The coastal town, just a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles, is an intoxicating mix. It is a young city, thanks to the nearby University of California, Santa Barbara, with plenty of art and nightlife. It is a town of sandy beachfronts, perfect for summer fun. It is also the unofficial southern edge of Central California’s wine country, with plenty of wineries in the city and many more a short drive to the north.
For me, Santa Barbara represents all of it. It’s known as the American Riviera and it is an apt comparison; when I arrive here, it feels like an adult Disneyland – a medley of food, drink, sun, and relaxation that is every bit as fun to me as the rollercoasters and entertainments of the House of Disney. Sitting at the beach, watching the sunset with a concealed glass of local wine in hand, is better than any end-of-day firework show.
Want to see for yourself? Here’s where to stay while exploring Santa Barbara.