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20 Things to Love About Santa Barbara


Two California pelicans on the Santa Barbara pier.

It seems like a bit of a disservice to list only 20 things to love about Santa Barbara. Enumerating all the great things residents enjoy here, however, would take up a great deal more space than this blog post allows. So here, in no particular order, are what many area residents, including me, consider the top 20 reasons for living in Santa Barbara:

  1. The weather
    Few places have a temperate climate like Santa Barbara. Due to its central, protected location, Santa Barbara enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and hardly has to worry about storm clouds appearing on its horizon (the average annual rainfall here is no more than 18 inches).

    Vintage filtered picture of wooden lifeguard tower at sunset, beach in California, USA.

  2. The beaches
    The area has been dubbed the American Riviera for good reason. There’s no shortage of creamy, sun-kissed beaches here. The three largest ones within the city itself are East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach. Plus, non-surfers may not know this, but Santa Barbara has long been a surfing mecca. Some of the best places to catch a wave are Rincon Point, Hammonds Point, and Leadbetter Point.

    An example of one of the thigs to love about living in Santa Barbara: a home featuring the area's famous Spanish Colonial Architecture

  3. The Spanish Colonial architecture
    Santa Barbara’s collection of white stucco houses and buildings with red tile roofs and intricate wrought iron detailing is one of its defining features. Take the spectacular home pictured here, for an example. Public examples include the Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and other historically and architecturally significant landmarks.


A photo of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, CA

Stearns Wharf. Creative Commons

  1. Stearns Wharf
    Stearns Wharf is the oldest working wharf in California and dates back to 1872. Now home to a vibrant array of shops and restaurants, it’s one of the things to love about Santa Barbara, and one of the city’s most notable landmarks. It’s also one of the best places to get a good view of the coast and one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. The Santa Barbara Harbor has more than a thousand boat slips.
  2. Downtown Santa Barbara
    This is the cultural and commercial heart of the city and is immensely walkable, especially since much of it is closed to traffic these days. Take a stroll on the new Santa Barbara State Street Pedestrian Promenade where shops (quite a few of which are one-of-a-kind), and restaurants (featuring a variety of cuisines), have taken over. There are farmers markets aplenty as well.

    An example of one of the wide variety of home styles and superb features of Santa Barbara homes

  3. The homes
    The wide variety of styles and superb features of homes themselves is definitely one of the things to love about Santa Barbara. One example is the European-Inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate pictured here, the former residence of celebrated comedian Jonathan Winters and his wife. Or perhaps you’d like to live near the downtown area, or up in the hills, in your own retreat in Montecito. The sky is truly the limit for living in Santa Barbara!
  4. The cultural scene
    The arts are very much alive in Santa Barbara and you can spend days gallery hopping here and nights enjoying theatrical performances, concerts, and more. Among the most notable venues is Sullivan Goss, The Arlington Theatre, Granada Theatre, Gallery 113, Lobero Theatre, and more.
  5. The wines
    The vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley are no more than a few miles away and there are many wineries and tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara. Many of these are in The Funk Zone, which also boasts microbreweries.
  6. The Backcountry
    The great outdoors is never too far away in Santa Barbara and if you’re not in the mood for the beach, you can always head to the hills and up the Santa Ynez Mountains. Hike, bike or ride a horse into the San Rafael Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest.
  7. The University of California, Santa Barbara
    UCSB is in the Goleta area and is the main reason why Santa Barbara has a young, energetic vibe even at its most serene. It is ranked among the best universities in the country and the world.
  8. Santa Barbara City College
    SBCC has been named the #1 Community College in the nation by the Aspen Institute. And for the third year in a row, Value Colleges rated SBCC the #1 Community College as “a flawless investment.”

    Mission Santa Barbara was the tenth of the California missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. It was established on the Feast of St. Barbara, Dec 4, 1786.

  9. Santa Barbara Mission
    The renowned Santa Barbara Mission, known as the “Queen of the Missions,” was established in 1786: the tenth in a line of more than 21 missions was originally used to Christianize the Indians and to teach them farming and other skills. The mission has evolved into its beautiful appearance of today, famous for being the only mission with two bell towers.
  10. The History
    In a recent blog post, I shared The Richness of Santa Barbara History. That history began approximately 13,000 years ago when the first Native Americans arrived. The Spanish came in the 18th century to occupy and Christianize the area, which became part of Mexico following the Mexican War of Independence. The City was among the first in America to understand the cultural and economic value of preserving its historic buildings. Because of this early intervention, original Spanish Colonial and Mexican-era adobe structures still exist, providing a window to the City’s past.

    Leonardo Dicaprio at the SBIFF Honors Leonardo Dicaprio and Martin Scorsese, Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara, CA 02-06-14

  11. The Festivals and Celebrations
    Residents of Santa Barbara know how to celebrate! Leading our cultural festivals is the Old Spanish Days Fiesta, featuring music, crafts, dancing, and plenty of food and drink. There is also the Santa Barbara International Film Festival that draws super stars to our city. Kick back and relax at the California Wine Festival or the Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest Festival. The Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival showcases fresh-off-the-boat seafood of every kind. And nature lovers will enjoy the Ocean Awareness Festival and the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival.
  12. The Funk Zone
    Over the past couple decades, this district, which spans the area between the ocean and Highway 101, adjacent to the Amtrak station, has enjoyed an up-swell of boutique tasting rooms, cafes, galleries, and shops that cater to Santa Barbara’s contemporary side. Converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces set the tone for this hopping section of town.
  13. The Locals
    Those of us living in Santa Barbara value our active, friendly, trendy, relaxed neighbors. Diverse in age, ethnicity, and background, most locals have a thing for surfing, hiking, cycling, kayaking or any of our many year-round outdoor activities. That fact makes this one of the most athletic cities in the country. By the way, Santa Barbara is also known as one of the least stressed cities in the United States. Plus, the American Riviera is a green city. Every way you turn here has a garden or is a garden.
  14. The Cosmopolitan Ambiance
    A city is said to be cosmopolitan when people from different countries, regions and cultures live in it. Our cosmopolitan ambiance is provided by the wonderful mix of cultures, languages, and heritages. Santa Barbara’s South Coast residents tend to be well-educated and affluent. The Santa Barbara metro area attracts a mix of families, retirees and college students, as well as recent graduates. 
  15. The Media
    The media is diverse here as well. In addition to the mainstream corporate television, newspaper and radio outlets in Santa Barbara, there’s the Santa Barbara Independent, Montecito Journal, Nexus (UCSB student newspaper), Noozhawk, Edhat, and the award winning Santa Barbara Magazine which celebrates the area’s rich and colorful lifestyle with editorial on Santa Barbara people, homes and gardens, architecture, food and wine, history, arts, escapes and more.
  16. The Museums
    The arts are very much alive in Santa Barbara and you can spend days gallery hopping here. Among the most notable venues are:
  1. The Botanic Garden
    Widely regarded as a model botanic garden, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has long been celebrated as one of the things to love in Santa Barbara, and for the distinctive marriage of its landscape design and natural setting. This historic landmark’s collections-based research preserves California native plants and displays them in a beautiful, breathtaking setting. This living museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, dedicated to research, education, and conservation of California native plants.

Would you like more information on living in Santa Babara? I’m happy to discuss everything I love about the area. Or if you have something to add to this list, call (805) 886-9378, or email me at You can also contact me if you’re interested in Santa Barbara real estate. Start by exploring my comprehensive website and schedule a consultation with me at your convenience.


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