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Santa Barbara Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara’s climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the “American Riviera”. As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria while the contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon,Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

In addition to being a popular tourist and resort destination, the city economy includes a large service sector, education, technology, health care, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and local government. In 2004, the service sector accounted for fully 35% of local employment. Education in particular is well represented, with five institutions of higher learning on the south coast (the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, Westmont College, Antioch University, and the Brooks Institute of Photography). The Santa Barbara Airport serves the city, as does Amtrak. U.S. Highway 101connects the Santa Barbara area with Los Angeles to the southeast and San Francisco to the northwest. Behind the city, in and beyond the Santa Ynez Mountains, is the Los Padres National Forest, which contains several remote wilderness areas. Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are located approximately 20 miles (32 km) offshore.

Santa Barbara – Info Card

POPULATION : • Total 88,410
• Estimate (2014) 91,196
FOUNDED :   April 9, 1850
TIME ZONE : • Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8)
• Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
LANGUAGE :  English
AREA : • Total 41.968 sq mi (108.697 km2)
• Land 19.468 sq mi (50.422 km2)
• Water 22.500 sq mi (58.275 km2) 53.61%
ELEVATION :   49 ft (15 m)
COORDINATES :  34°25′33″N 119°42′51″W
ETHNIC : White 75.1%
African American 1.6%
Asian 3.5%
American Indians and Alaska Natives 1.0%
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders 0.1%
Two or more races 3.9%
Some Other Race 14.7%
AREA CODE :  805
POSTAL CODE : 93101–93103, 93105–93111, 93116–93118, 93120–93121, 93130, 93140, 93150, 93160, 93190, 93199
DIALING CODE :  +1 805

Tourism in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a city and metropolitan region located less than 100 miles south of Los Angeles but with a pace that is worlds apart from that of its massive neighbor to the south. With its temperate climate and lush natural surroundings, the “Riviera of the West” is a pleasant day or weekend trip from Los Angeles, with its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a diverse selection of shopping and dining options that enable the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy cultural and social amenities typically reserved for much larger cities.

Although Santa Barbara has a reputation as a playground for the wealthy and famous, the fact is that the average household income inside city boundaries is only marginally greater than the state average. Notable for its California Mission-style architecture (a long-standing local ordinance requires all commercial construction to adhere to the Mission theme, resulting in an abundance of red-tiled roofs and faux adobe supermarkets), local residents are fiercely proud of their city’s roots and traditions, and a number of extremely popular festivals take place throughout the year to celebrate the city’s diverse cultures. Additionally, the city’s considerable Latino population, which is centered on the city’s east side near Milpas Street, means that there are several tacquerias and Mexican cuisine establishments. Santa Barbara has also been inspired by the food-truck culture in Los Angeles.


Santa Barbara is a popular year-round tourist destination known for its pleasant climate, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. Tourism contributes almost a billion dollars to the local economy each year, including $80 million in tax income. Along with its cultural riches, the city is home to numerous notable locations. Mission Santa Barbara, dubbed “The Queen of the Missions,” is situated approximately two miles (3 kilometers) inland from the port on a hill and is preserved as an active place of worship, tourist destination, and national historic site. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish edifice with an open air tower, gives a panoramic perspective of the downtown area. The Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish military station and chapel constructed in 1782, was essential in the town’s early growth and continues to serve as a symbol of the city’s colonial history. In 1855, the Presidio Chapel, which had fallen into disrepair, was transformed into the Apostolic College of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is today known as Our Lady of Sorrows Church. The current church, dedicated on April 21, 1929, on the 147th anniversary of the presidio’s establishment, remains one of the most magnificent in California.

Additionally, the annual Fiesta (formerly named “Old Spanish Days”), which takes place in August, is well-known. The Fiesta is co-hosted by the Native Daughters and Sons of the Golden West via a joint body called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was founded in the 1920s as a tourist event, similar to the Rose Bowl, to bring commerce to the community.

The Flower Girls and Las Seoritas are another highlight of Fiesta, marching and participating in both Fiesta Pequea (the festival’s kick-off) and the other parades. Flower Girls is for females under the age of thirteen. They pelt the masses with roses and other flowers. Las Seoritas are their more senior bodyguards. At the age of 16, many Seoritas join the Native Daughters.

The annual French Festival in Santa Barbara takes place during the Bastille Day weekend in July. This festival is the biggest of its kind in the western United States.

The New Noise Music Conference and Festival, founded in 2009, is a four-day event that features a primary party in the Funk Zone, a tiny art and wine tasting portion of the city near the beach, as well as performances by other minor bands at other smaller venues across the city. Each year, New Noise attracts approximately 75 musicians and 50 speakers.

The Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show has been hosted on Cabrillo Blvd., east of Stearns Wharf, and down the beach for over 40 years, bringing thousands of visitors to see artwork created by Santa Barbara County artists and craftspeople. According to the show’s guidelines, all works on exhibit must be created by the artists and artisans themselves, who must also sell their own wares. The event began in the early 1960s and today has over 200 booths of varied sizes and styles on any given Sunday. The performance is also conducted on several national holiday Saturdays, but not in poor weather.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, another local non-profit, has grown in popularity in recent years, attracting over 50,000 guests during what is often Santa Barbara’s quiet season in late January. SBIFF, which spans for ten days, has a diverse array of celebrities, premieres, talks, and films from across the globe.

The Summer Solstice Parade attracts up to 100,000 spectators each year. It is a vibrantly themed procession organized by local citizens that travels roughly one mile along State Street, terminating at Alameda Park. Its primary regulation is that no written messages or worded banners are permitted. The parade’s floats and costumes range from whimsical to obscene; parties and street festivities take place throughout the parade’s weekend, which is the first weekend after the solstice.

Surfing is as much a part of the culture of Santa Barbara as art is. Bruce Brown’s cult favorite, The Endless Summer, popularized surfing, and he is often seen about town. Santa Barbara is home to surfing great Pat Curren and his son, three-time world champion Tom Curren, as well as ten-time world champion Kelly Slater and other well-known surf giants like as Jack Johnson. Local surfers are well-known for traveling north to The Point and south to Rincon.

Climate of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has a Mediterranean climate with mild summers (Köppen: Csb), which is typical of coastal California. Due to the city’s proximity to the seaside, onshore breezes help to regulate temperatures, resulting in milder winters and cooler summers than those farther inland. In the winter, storms make their way to California, with some bringing considerable rainfall. Local rainfall totals may be increased by orographic lift when storms are accompanied by southerly flow that pushes moist air over the Santa Ynez mountains, resulting in more rainfall than in other coastal locations. Summers in Southern California are mostly rainless, owing to the existence of a high-pressure system over the eastern Pacific. In the autumn, downslope winds, commonly referred to as “Sundowners,” may push temperatures into the high 90s and humidity levels into the single digits, increasing the likelihood and severity of wildfires in the city’s foothills. Annual rainfall totals are very varied; in rare years such as 1940–1941 and 1997–1998, more than 40 inches (1.0 m) of rain fell in a single year, yet less than 6 inches (150 mm) of rain is not unheard of during dry seasons. Snow sometimes blankets the Santa Ynez Mountains’ upper altitudes, but is exceedingly unusual in the city proper. The most recent accumulating snowfall around sea level occurred in January 1949, when the city received roughly two inches.

Geography of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is situated on the Pacific coast, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. This stretch of shoreline in southern Santa Barbara County is sometimes referred to as “The American Riviera,” apparently because its geology and climate are comparable to those of the Riviera regions along the northern Mediterranean Sea coast (particularly in southern France). The Santa Ynez Mountains, a range that runs east–west, rise steeply behind the city, with numerous peaks reaching 4,000 feet (1,200 m). They provide a magnificent background to the town, being covered with chaparral and sandstone outcrops. Snow falls on the mountains sometimes, maybe once every three years, although it seldom lasts more than a few days. Closer to town, just east of and next to Mission Santa Barbara, is an east-west ridge known locally as “the Riviera,” which is spanned by a road named “Alameda Padre Serra” (short APS, which translates as “Father Serra’s avenue”).

The city has a total area of 42.0 square miles (108.8 km2), of which 19.5 square miles (51 km2) is land and 22.5 square miles (58 km2) is water (53.61 percent). The high official water statistics are a result of the city limits being extended into the ocean, including a strip of city stretching out into the sea and back in to keep the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) inside the municipal limits.

Economy of Santa Barbara

Aerospace and military firms, such as Alliant Techsystems, Channel Technologies Group, Citrix Online, FLIR Systems, and Raytheon, employ a significant portion of the city’s private workforce. The tourism attractions of Santa Barbara have elevated the hotel sector to a position of prominence in the area economy. Motel 6 began in 1962 in Santa Barbara.



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