The Santa Barbara area of California encompasses the sunny cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, Hope Ranch, Montecito and Summerland. This portion of the state is situated in the southern half and is full of exciting attractions, natural sights to explore and delicious cuisine to dine on. This area is nearby some stunning natural beauty like the Santa Ynez, San Rafael and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges.
The cities in the area are known for unique Mission-style architecture as well as a variety of beaches where you can relax in the sand, catch a fish, try your hand at surfing or hop in the water for a refreshing swim.
Things to Do
- Los Padres National Forest: In Goleta, nature and outdoor lovers will enjoy a visit the Los Padres National Forest. As you explore through the vegetation, keep your eye out for the local wildlife like California condors, peregrine falcons, California mule deer and more. There are more 1,257 miles of trails you can use for a thrilling hike through the forest. You'll also find some beaches here, so if it's a nice day take some time to enjoy the warmth of the sun as you gaze across the water.
- Carpinteria Valley Museum of History: Step back into the city's past at the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History. An array of unique exhibits features displays on the three main cultures that have called this area home: the Chumash people, Spanish and Mexican settlers and pioneers. Admission is free, though there's a suggested donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children, so it's a budget-friendly outing. You'll see photographs, artifacts and more left my former inhabitants.
- El Fureidis: While you're in Montecito, visit El Fureidis, Little Paradise or Pleasure Gardens - depending on how it's translated. It's a 10,000 square foot historic estate built in 1906. El Fureidis was originally called the James Waldron Gillespie Estate after the original owner. It's one of only five homes designed by American architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. The estate has been featured in a variety of postcards due to the beautiful Persian gardens and unique and stunning design.
- Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum: If you're a lover of all things literary, you won't want to miss out on Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Santa Barbara. It houses a collection of historical documents and manuscripts. The archives include works in literature, science, history, art and religion. Some of the artifacts include the original draft of the Bill of Rights, the original manuscript of "The Wedding March," Einstein's E = Mc2 formula, the "Thanksgiving Proclamation" signed by President George Washington, Webster's dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus and more than a million more rarities.
- Summerland Beach':' - Summerland Beach is a delightful strip of shore that's not usually too crowded, so you won't have to worry about fighting for a spot in the sand. Watch horseback riders mosey through the surf as you stretch out on your beach towel with a good book or dive into the sand and construct a brilliant sandcastle. This beach is popular among dog owners as well, so you can watch happy pooches playing with their owners and fetching balls out of the water.
- Rincon Beach: Rincon Beach is another excellent option in Carpinteria for spending a day in the sand and surf. It's a top spot for surfers, so you're sure to be treated to a show watching them catch the perfect wave. Relax and enjoy the warmth of the sun as you work on your tan or join the surfers in the water for a refreshing dip.
Shopping and Dining
- Camino Real Marketplace: If you're looking to shop in Goleta, head to Camino Real Marketplace where you'll find everything from large retail stores to smaller boutique shops and everything in between. It's a great spot to do a little retail therapy and pick up some exciting souvenirs to remember your trip. There are also a variety of dining opportunities here, so feel free to stop and refuel with a delicious meal. If you're looking to beat the heat, there's also a state-of-the-art theater.
- Summerland Beach Cafe: For one of the best breakfasts in the Santa Barbara area, head to Summerland Beach Cafe. There's plenty of charm and atmosphere housed in this 19th century Victorian home in addition to the delectable meals.Savor your breakfast or lunch indoors, out on the back patio with a wonderfully wooded backdrop or on the front porch as you gaze over downtown Summerland.