There are plenty of reasons why Santa Barbara endears itself to visitors. Take your pick —it's getting to stroll down our grand palm lined Cabrillo Boulevard, hike into the purple mountains towering over the city, or sip your way through the wine tasting rooms in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. Let's not forget the statistically significant odds that the weather will be fabulous.
After all, this was the impetus for Santa Barbara Company. Our family and friends from afar would come to visit and fall for Santa Barbara's seductive charm. Sending them Santa Barbara gifts during the holiday season seemed like the only fair thing to do while they suffered through bitterly cold winters and planned their next trip to town. To make it easier on ourselves and everyone else like us, we built an online shop called Santa Barbara Company to offer the best of Santa Barbara, which has morphed into the local shop and online business it is today.
My own family bounced back and forth between Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay Area for several generations. My great-great grandparents had a home on West Valerio. Their children (my great grandparents) then moved to the Bay Area, where my grandmother was born. She has fond memories of summers in Santa Barbara visiting her grandparents. It wasn’t long after my mom gave birth to my brother that she and my father decided to settle back in Santa Barbara, where I was born and have now returned to after a stint in Berkeley, California. Even my grandmother, a true Bay Area girl, has moved to Santa Barbara in her retirement to be near our family and oversee The Santa Barbara Company’s garden (a day job she takes seriously).
We have been thinking about what it is that makes Santa Barbara so wonderful, not just for the visitors who spend a day or a week here, but for those of us who spend our workdays, weekends, and lives in her boundaries. We asked our Facebook followers and friends to weigh in on what makes Santa Barbara so good for the soul. See those responses in red. Here are 19 good reasons that we wanted to share with you. Do you have any to add?
- Contrast. The cheerful contrast of white walls splashed with vibrant bougainvillea. Blue sky against red tile roofs.
- Bells. The Mission bells chiming three times a day
- Mexican Food. The smell of frying tortillas downtown
- Bike-ability. While we’re still working on making the city more bike friendly, the weather is almost always perfect for riding to your destination.
- Drivability. Let’s be real, handling gridlocked highways on a daily basis can get you down. Santa Barbara’s minimal traffic makes getting to your destination easy.
- Vineyards. The vineyards in the Santa Ynez Wine Country and their tasting rooms here in town.
- The Front Country. The south-facing slope of the Santa Ynez Mountains, and the great hikes that come along with it.
Colleen McCarthy-Evans: "Easy access to so many beautiful hiking trails!"
- Air. Just leave the windows and doors open and let the fresh coastal air drift in.
Vickie Merenbach: "The air. It's magical."
- History. We relax and get our exercise in beautiful historic spots.
Laurel Lyle: "Frisbee at the rose garden."
- Weddings. The privilege of seeing beautiful brides saunter across the Courthouse grass.
- The Arts. From the Beach Walk to our amazing concerts, shows and lectures!
Elizabeth Drobnyk Burns: The Santa Barbara International Film Festival
- Sunsets. Sometimes the sun sets orange and pink over the sea, reflecting off the rocky sandstone hills and blanketing the city in a rosy afternoon alpenglow.
Marygrace Monteleone: The colors & beauty of sunrises and sunsets.
- Color. There tiles everywhere: beneath your feet and on walls behind splashing fountains.
Elizabeth Drobnyk Burns: Long beach walks
Two of our favorites are Hendry’s to Shoreline and Butterfly Beach to East Beach.
- Farmers Markets. FIVE days a week
- Architecture. From red tile roofs to California bungalows and quirky buildings by Jeff Shelton, we have a diverse architectural heritage.
- Shelter. Nestled between a rampart of mountains to the north and the facing the sea to the south where our coast is protected by the Channel Islands.
- Dolphins! If you keep an eye out at sea, you can sometimes see dolphins splashing and playing off the coast. There is something so friendly and joyful about their behavior that I can't help just feel perfectly at home.
- Weather. Our summer heat is tempered by cooling fog.
Darlene Bayer: Our weather is perfect!
Beautiful Santa Barbara images courtesy of Blake Bronstad Photography.