What makes Santa Barbara one of the best places to live?
Livability.com ranks Santa Barbara, aka the American Rivera, number 30 in the top 100 best places to live. To understand why Santa Barbara living is so prized, all you need to do is take a look at our gorgeous city. Our amazing views of the Santa Ynex Mountains, miles of breathtaking shoreline and perfect Mediterranean weather are a good place to start. Then there’s an abundance of social and recreational activities for residents as well as cultural attractions and much much more.
“I like to describe Santa Barbara as a small city with big ideas,” says former Mayor Helene Schneider. She goes to on to wax poetic about the quality of life residents enjoy here. “And we have a real rise in entrepreneurial spirit here right now, in part inspired by students from UC Santa Barbara and our other colleges who want to stay here after graduation.”
Walkable Santa Barbara
One thing that adds to the appeal of living in Santa Barbara is the city’s walkability. Just think about it: Santa Barbara is so pretty that walking is alluring and easy. To promote walking, there are many shuttles and buses in town that run to beaches, shopping promenades, the Mission, the Museum of Art, the Botanic Garden and more so that you can jump on public transportation when your feet get tired.
“The neighborhoods here are all very visually distinct, walkable and livable. All of them have their own commercial areas, grocery stores, coffee shops, the things that make them true neighborhoods,” Schneider says. “But you get so much more than the indoors – there is so much outdoor living space in the city – no one here stays cooped up inside.”
Santa Barbara has been designated a Gold-Level Community by Walk Friendly Communities. There are also some self-guided walking tours for locals and visitors alike including:
- Red Tile Walking Tour of downtown Santa Barbara
- Twelve Santa Barbara Paseos pedestrian walkways in downtown
- Harbor/Shoreline Walking Tour with options through City College and the Douglas Family Preserve
- Walk the Wharf for the history of Stearns Wharf
- Butterfly Beach/Coast Village Road in Montecito
- Walk Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail, stopping at wine tasting rooms as you go
The Sunday Arts and Craft Fair is another great place to walk along the beach side of Cabrillo Boulevard from State Street to Chase Palm Park. The city’s decades-old Santa Barbara Farmers Market is held 6 days a week at 6 different locations, including downtown on Tuesdays and Saturdays where you can walk the equivalent of 2 solid blocks of certified local foods, seafood, flowers and value-added products like local cheeses.
Residents can take a short ferry ride to visit the spectacular Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary, inhabited for centuries by Native Americans. You may be lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions and a host of other wildlife traveling to and from the park.
Outdoor Fun all Year Long
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, then Santa Barbara living will offer you plenty to do. And you can do them all year long! The Santa Barbara Sailing Center is the place to charter a ship that suits your fancy. You rent a yacht a kayak for two or try the popular sport of paddle boarding. Don’t want to go out on the water? Feel free to hang out on land at the Santa Barbara Harbor. This is the perfect place to stroll, dine, do some shopping and take in all the sights. From late October to March, visit the Coronado Butterfly Preserve to get a close up look at the magnificent monarch butterfly. Hikers must not miss the scenic Inspiration Point. Bring your four-legged friend with you because this hike is dog-friendly!
Besides the 18th-century Franciscan Mission Santa Barbara, where you can still attend services, the city’s own rich cultural history seems endless. Take, for example, the Presidio, the Spanish-Moorish style County Courthouse, Casa de la Guerra and Burton Mound. Just the Spanish Revival architecture of the town helps make it exceptional.
You’ll find an abundance of cultural events and festivals in town. Some of the popular events include the well-known Fiesta (or “Old Spanish Days”), the June Summer Solstice Festival, the French Festival for Bastille Day, the critically acclaimed Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the famous Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show and more.
Civic Pride is Contagious
Civic participation is another marker to consider when ranking the livability of a city and Santa Barbara has it in spades. There’s the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Leadership Santa Barbara County: focusing on issue-oriented leadership development for a diverse group of individuals. Leadership Santa Barbara is open to anyone who lives, works or attends school in Santa Barbara County. This program brings together future community leaders with diverse backgrounds and beliefs to work together effectively to address issues affecting us all.
If Santa Barbara living is your dream, sounds like it might be, or if you’re already here and ready to buy or sell a home, call me at 805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. I’ll happily share more of my favorite reasons why living in Santa Barbara has been the fulfillment of my personal dream for many years.