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Santa Barbara Recognized As One of the Best Small Cities in the Nation

A look at Santa Barbara from the hills The prestigious honor comes from the Conde Nast Traveler 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

Santa Barbara has been named one of the “Best Small Cities in the U.S.” by the folks who read Conde Nast Traveler. Since 2015, readers have praised the American Rivera in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. More than 7.2 million visitors look forward to reading the results each year and plan their vacations accordingly. In addition to our fine city making the cut, several Santa Barbara area hotels won the survey’s “Top Hotels in Southern California” category. Included in that list: Hotel Californian, Belmond El Encanto, and Kimpton Canary Hotel. Not surprising, the Biltmore Santa Barbara and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, were awarded “Top Resorts in Southern California.”

“We’re thrilled to be named a top U.S. destination by Condé Nast Traveler readers and proud to see so many Santa Barbara South Coast hotels and resorts recognized,” said Visit Santa Barbara President and CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes. “Santa Barbara has a way of making travelers feel like they’re in a little pocket of paradise when here. The natural beauty, diversity of activities and attractions, vibrant restaurants and world-class wine country offer visitors an unparalleled quintessential California experience.”

After reviewing more than 429,000 survey responses, Conde Nast editors got a clear snapshot of what people are looking for when they travel. It appears that Santa Barbara has what visitors are looking for: a quiet, small, subdued location where people can vacation the way they want. Looking for adventure? We’ve got that. Looking to relax? We can handle that too. Sounds like the perfect place to live, too.

This year’s answers centered on comfort and convenience. The nominees and winners were all closer to home than ever before, and the properties that impressed travelers most were smaller and less flashy than in years past. Editors say the results suggest that less is more.

The recent award isn’t Santa Barbara’s only one. Our fine seaside town was recently named a top 10 city by and was designated a Gold-Level Community by Walk Friendly Communities.

To understand what makes living or vacationing in Santa Barbara so treasured, all you need to do is take a look at our gorgeous city. Besides enjoying miles of breathtaking shoreline, amazing views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the perfect year-round Mediterranean weather, there’s an abundance of social and recreational activities to enjoy as well as cultural attractions to uncover, and much, much more. 

Group playing volleyball on the beach in Santa BarbaraOutdoor Adventure Abounds
Getting outside is mandatory on the American Rivera. In fact, Santa Barbara is a haven for outdoor adventure. Residents have endless opportunities to hike the Santa Ynez Mountains or enjoy amazing scenic vistas via bicycle. Then there are the golden ridgelines that cascade into the Pacific Ocean: perfect for water activities of all kinds. Some of my favorite, must-do adventures found on the American Riviera include surfing (or watching the experts catch waves), sea cave kayaking at the Channel Islands National Park, hang gliding over Elings Park’s South Bluffs, cycling Gibraltar Road, trail running Rattlesnake Canyon, hiking to Inspiration Point, golfing at Rancho San Marcos or the Glen Annie Golf Course, fishing, SUP, rock climbing, horseback riding, or even joining a pick-up beach volleyball game.

Santa Barbara Dining Options
Santa Barbara eateries have been an essential part of the fabric of our amazing community for decades. Whether you’re looking for the stiffest drinks in town, like those that are served at Harry’s Plaza Cafe, a restaurant that specializes in traditional breakfast fare like Paradise Cafe, an unfussy Italian place like Toma Restaurant & Bar, an eatery like Joe’s Café, that has served savory steaks for decades, or one that has fresh fish on the menu like Santa Barbara Fish House, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

There are also several health-conscious restaurants in town, such as Mesa Verde, which caters to vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diners; Green Table, which boasts the largest selection of Matcha green tea blends in all of California; or Lilac Patisserie, our first dedicated gluten-free bakery, and café. Yum!

Santa Barbara Wellness
As I explained in a previous blog, there are so many good reasons to live in Santa Barbara, not the least of which is our healthy lifestyle. Santa Barbara is a wellspring of wellness. You can nurture your mind, body, and soul at our many spas, yoga studios, fitness classes, energy healing centers, and meditation workshops.

For a double dose of healing and relaxation, visit a Himalayan Salt Cave, where you’ll experience the physiological benefits of halotherapy. You can treat your body to a massage there too. Or have a truly blissful experience in the heart of downtown by letting all your cares float away at Float Luxury Spa. To radiate good vibes, you can just spend time meditating outside at any of our beautiful parks or beaches.

Santa Barbara Wine Country
Wine aficionados love the Santa Ynez Valley, home to some of California’s most sought-after wines. Due to our county’s unique location and climate, we’re well known as the perfect place to grow grapes that produce some of the most spectacular wines. Our local wine country became famous in 2004 when the Academy Award-winning film Sideways was released because some of it was shot on location in Santa Barbara Wine Country. The wine industry mushroomed into the full-fledged affair we now enjoy shortly after the film was released.

Santa Barbara Schools
If you have a family, Santa Barbara is a wonderful place to raise kids. Our educational tradition is one of the oldest in the state of California. Education here is rooted in the 18th-century Spanish era. For over a century, Santa Barbara graduates have gone on to become community, state, and nationally recognized leaders. 

If you already live here, I hope this post has renewed your appreciation for your home base. If you’re considering moving to or within  Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, or considering purchasing a vacation home here, give me a call at 805.886.9378 or email me at I have the intel on many fine Santa Barbara homes for sale on my comprehensive website. It would be my pleasure to add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home on the American Rivera at the same time.


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