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Lost in the Art, Santa Barbara - The American Riviera - The Old World Charm

Santa Barbara was our destination for the first trip of the new year - a road trip to start the year 2020. Located just north of Los Angeles made it a perfect choice. It is a beautiful town along the Pacific Coast of California with Santa Ynez range on one of its sides. Thus, the town offers the best of both the world - hills and beaches. The town has also been able to preserve its old-world charm which makes it a great destination. Located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles, the city was a perfect place for our road trip destination. We were going to complete the Highway 1 journey stopping just short of LA which we had already visited a couple of times.

The town has all everything that a visitor may look for - chic downtown, shopping options, beaches, a happening downtown and cuisine to satiate every taste. It is no doubt the sought after vacation destination for the A-listers. A number of celebrities have estates around the town. We spent more than half a day exploring this town during our road trip. However, we have not hesitation in saying that even a couple of days may not be enough to cover all that surrounds the town. Here are the top 5 things that we would recommend if you visit the town on a short trip.

Lake Cachuma Recreational Area
Santa Barbara Wharf

Visit the official visitors at - Santa Barbara, California - or the official city home page - Santa Barbara - The American Riviera.

1. Santa Barbara Wharf

This is apparently the first item on any list of things to do in Santa Barbara. It is a great place to hang out with scenic views all around. There is a vast ocean on one side and slopes with houses on the other. On a sunny afternoon, you would find a lot of residents fishing in the ocean. You would also see a lot of sea lions active if you look over the barricades.

The wharf is also a good place to grab a meal, especially if you are looking for seafood. There are a number of outlets, serving fresh fish dishes. It is also interesting that there is a 90-minute complimentary parking on the wharf itself. So, feel free to drive up to the end of the wharf and avoid a walk. :)

2. Art and Craft Exhibition and the Beach Promenade

The beach promenade in Santa Barbara is a good place for a walk or jog. One could also try renting a cycle and ride along the beach. There are nicely manicured gardens all along which are great for a picnic. The area also houses a couple of children parks so that your kids find something for themselves. It is a nice place to spend some time in the evening.

On Sundays and a few other important days, there is an open-air art and craft exhibition at the beach. The lawns along the beach are occupied by local artists to display their creations. Luckily we were there in the town on one of the Sundays and had the opportunity to see the exhibition. The creations are marvelous and some of the paintings are no less than actual photographs.

Art and Craft Exhibition

3. Funk Zone - Hip-Hoping and Fun

This is one of the recent development in the town. The area has come up as a destination for the young crowd. There are night clubs, restaurants, high-end stores, and other attractions for the new generation. One can spend a good amount of time hanging around with friends and enjoying a drink or meal. Converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces set the tone for this hopping section of town. Surfboard shapers, winemakers and up-and-coming chefs all practice their crafts here.

4. Mission Santa Barbara

Missions are an important part of the history of California. These have an important significance from the times of the growing Spanish influence. There are multiple missions around California that have become a great center of attraction. These missions served as centers for spreading Spanish culture and influence. Once their primary purpose was served, these became churches and educational centers. The mission in Santa Barbara was one of the largest and important mission.

5. Chromatic Gate - The Colors of Life

Chromatic Gate

Art is an important component of Santa Barbara as a town. The town has a rich history of artists visiting and leaving their impression. One such artist who settled in the region was Herbert Bayer. The famous artist developed the colorful Chromatic Gate off East Beach. If you stand at the beach and look towards the mountains, the view of clouds is stunning. On the other hand, if you look towards the beach through the gate, the views of the tall trees through the gate are mesmerizing too.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful city that offers something for every taste and age. We loved our time, however, short it was, during the road trip and would love to spend more time there. Till then stay tuned for all experiences from our road trip. For an overview of our road trip, read Santa Barbara Road Trip.

Downtown Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Visitor Center

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