Friday, December 31, 2010

Santa Barbara - The Best Times to Visit

It seems that Santa Barbara has no past. It’s idyllic setting and stunning terrain do not give clues to its history, A small shelf sandwiched between mountains and Pacific Ocean appears to be suspended in time. But this town of roughly 120,000 people is fiercely proud of its cultural heritage, and Santa Barbara has a history that extends back since the Chumash Indians inhabited this area over 10,000 years ago. To limit a visit to Santa Barbara to merely the oceanfront and State Street, the usual suspects for most tourists, would be like ignoring part of your family. Sure, the focus in on these areas, but Santa Barbara has such a wealth of cultural, architectural and historical treasures that it requires time to immerse yourself in the area.
Santa Barbara's red-tiled roofs
Yes, there is the shopping, the wine industry, the Spanish architecture that dominates the region and a laid back vibe inspired by endless waves and eternal sunshine. But there is also a vast sense of physical activity and communal well being. No less than five farmers markets each and every week make healthy produce abundant and accessible, for example. The Rincon is a favorite surf spot, but eager surfers dot the waters everywhere. Santa Barbara can be adequately covered in three days, but even then there is so much to discover and each turn of a corner brings something new. It’s no surprise that the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Santa Barbara as a Distinctive Destination in 2009. There is much to absorb in Santa Barbara and if you stay long enough, like most of us, you won’t want to leave.
At the popular Solstice Parade
Santa Barbara, being fairly compact, can easily be enjoyed over a weekend. That doesn’t mean you can do everything you may want to do, but a weekend will give a great overview. It’s best to consider how active you are. If you want water activities, hiking and cycling, more time will be needed. If you are the meandering type, the waterfront and State Street will suite you fine. To fully explore, three or four days are needed to do justice. The best time to visit is not in the summer months. The idea time is from March to May, where everything is pristine after the mild winter rains. Summer gets the June gloom, lots of fog that sometimes doesn’t burn off until early afternoon. October through December is also a great time. There are more chances of rain, but I can’t tell you the number of Thanksgivings I’d had where the family has been at the beach playing in the water, burning off the turkey. So come visit and consider using my book Santa Barbara & The Central Coast as a roadmap to uncover the Central Coast!
Kick back on Moonstone Drive in Cambria

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