Santa Barbara has no shortage of spectacular scenery and choosing the best Santa Barbara landscapes is no easy task. That said, here’s a sampling of the best places in the region to view and/or catch a view from:
National Geographic’s Santa Barbara Loop
If you’ve never been to the area before, going on a road trip here is one of the best ways to get acquainted with this particular stretch of California coast. National Geographic‘s recommended drive, which extends 166 miles and loops west from Santa Barbara to the Santa Ynez Valley before looping back to the city and heading east to the Ojai Valley, is a great route to take for sightseeing. Expect to see the city itself as well as miles of beaches, the rugged rock formations of the Gaviota Pass, fields of blooms in Lompoc (in June and July), the verdant vineyards of the wine country, and more.
Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve
Sunset magazine recently included this 137-acre coastal bluff preserve in its list of the “7 (hidden) wonders of the West,” praising it for having the “best view.” As indeed it does. Located in the Goleta area, this pristine sweep of grasslands, vernal pools and monarch butterfly-bedecked eucalyptus groves is perched on a cliff edged with a wide swath of beach and looks out on endless views of the ocean.
The Channel Islands National Park encompasses five islands and a 175-mile coastline and has a diversity of breathtaking, untouched landscapes, not to mention more than 2,000 plant and animal species, 145 of which can only be found here. Undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring view is from Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island, but do make time to explore all the other islands as well. Some areas are harder to get to than others, but they’re all very much worth it.
If you’re up for a bit (and then some) of hiking or biking, head up to Camino Cielo, from where you’ll be privy to a wide variety of panoramic views of the city as well as the surrounding terrain. Along West Camino Cielo, keep your eyes open for the various sandstone formations such as Lizard’s Mouth – not that they’ll be hard to miss. From here you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy long-range views of the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges as well as Goleta and the Channel Islands. The views along East Camino Cielo are just as superb.
Note that this is far from a definitive list and that some of the best Santa Barbara landscapes are to be found in private property and as such are not going to be viewable without an invitation. Still all of the landscapes mentioned above will give you a definite idea about the region’s natural beauty and help illustrate why the real estate Santa Barbara has to offer is as highly valued and sought-after as it is.
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