Santa Barbara is Southern California’s loveliest collaboration between man and nature. It is a unique seaside city in a natural amphitheater between towering mountains and a rare south-facing coastline. Palm-shaded parks border miles of fine sandy beaches along some of the gentlest surf on the Pacific coast. “Santa Barbara style” architecture is everywhere. Red-tile roofs and whitewashed adobe distinguish buildings embellished with graceful curves and dramatic arches, passageways, secret court-yards, sculptures, and fountains in harmony with luxuriant gardens. The subtropical climate is as idyllic as the setting.
One of four presidios to protect the coastline of California for Spain was established here in 1782. Four years later, Father Junipero Serra founded a mission. The present church, called the “Queen of California Missions,” was built in 1821. The Spanish legacy was reinforced through beautification movements that coalesced following a devastating earthquake in 1925.
Today, Spanish-Colonial embellishments abound. Some of America’s loveliest public buildings glorify the spectacularly landscaped downtown area alive with shoppers and strollers both day and night. Recent improvements link the flourishing district and the beach, pier, and harbor where a wealth of water-oriented recreation is available year-round. Gourmet restaurants contribute to the vitality and stature of picturesque neighborhoods throughout the city. Lodgings are similarly abundant and appealing, ranging from modern motels or romantic bed-and-breakfast inns to world-class resorts by the sea.