Santa Barbara The American Riviera®


Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean on California’s Central Coast, Santa Barbara offers a mixture of Mediterranean architecture, 160 kilometres of sparkling coastline and countless sensory indulgences like world-class wine and farm-to-table cuisine. Known as The America Riviera®, Santa Barbara is just two hours north of Los Angeles yet feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown. From foodies or wine lovers to film buffs or adventure seekers, Santa Barbara has something to offer every kind of traveller.

Here are three reasons to visit Santa Barbara:

Beautiful Beaches and Outdoor Adventure 

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Santa Barbara is an equal-opportunity water, land and air destination. In just one day, you can surf, kayak or paddleboard over the waves; hike nearly 2,500 feet above sea level to Gaviota Peak and take a dip in natural hot springs; horseback ride in the Santa Barbara hills; or rock climb Lizard’s Mouth and the majestic Rock Playgrounds. If golf is your game, Santa Barbara’s many world-class golf courses will beckon with their rolling fairways and panoramic views. If you prefer a bird’s eye perspective, you can hang glide over Santa Barbara’s bucolic foothills. Or spend the day in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, where you can catch a glimpse of migrating whales, dolphins, marine mammals and pelagic birds.

Of course, if you just want to lounge on the beach, Santa Barbara offers more than 160 kilometres of shoreline to enjoy with warm sunshine and refreshing breezes all summer.

Epicurean Paradise 

Whether you’re a wine geek, fervent foodie, seasoned chef of just someone with an endless appetite for great food, Santa Barbara offers an unforgettable taste vacation. Inspired by abundant, locally sourced, seasonal produce, seafood and meats, young upstarts and long-renowned chefs alike are making Santa Barbara’s culinary scene one of the most exciting in California. Forward-thinking mixologists are putting their spin on old classics and inventing new cocktails inspired by freshly harvested herbs, fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets. A great way to experience this bounty first-hand is to sign up for the Farmers Market Foodie Stroll, where Executive Chef David Rosner of the Wine Cask takes guests to the local market to pick ingredients and then transforms their selections into a delectable multi-course dinner paired with local wines.

Made famous in the film Sideways, the area’s wine regions, which include five distinct AVAs, are popular with oenophiles and food lovers, who sip everything from world-class pinots to chardonnays and syrahs. Urbanites can savour the region’s signature libation along the Urban Wine Trail in downtown Santa Barbara or veer off the path for a cool glass of medal-winning beer at one of the area’s 18 craft breweries. Active types can bike their way through sun-streaked Santa Ynez Valley vineyards, pausing to taste along the way. And art aficionados may want to merge their appreciation for wine and art with experiences that pair the two. Learn about these options and more at

Unique Cultural Experiences and Attractions 

Santa Barbara offers a canvas of experiences filled with unforgettable performances, artistic creations and cultural attractions that define its unique character. From the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and cool, contemporary art studios in the Funk Zone to soul-stirring performances at local theatres and sweeping architecture, inspired sights and sounds abound in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Trolley Company offers a great way to see some of the area’s attractions, with ongoing daily narrated tours to sites such as Butterfly Beach, Stearns Wharf, Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge. Families shouldn’t miss the Santa Barbara Zoo, set on a hillside estate with ocean views, where they can hand-feed the giraffes. Or experience the region’s upscale cowboy culture with a stay at the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch and Stables, featuring horseback riding and gourmet dinners.

Visit for more ideas. 

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Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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