I have been living in Santa Barbara for a little over three years now, on and off, and that is certainly enough time to have done a good deal of exploring. And in that time, I have pretty much concluded that Santa Barbara is the greatest city ever. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s ten reasons why…
Food: I have very few pictures of Santa Barbara cuisine because I usually don’t wait long enough to take a photo of my food before diving into it. I have never had a bad meal in this city! Brunch at Eladio’s was my personal favorite because, um, Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict. All the restaurants on the pier are great for super fresh seafood options like calamari, fish tacos, and ceviche. Viva Modern Mexican is trendy and delicious, Pickles & Swiss makes some awesome one-of-a-kind sandwiches, and Toma has the best Rigatoni I’ve ever had. And don’t even get me started on El Paseo, a sort-of outdoor, sort-of indoor authentic Mexican treasure which puts on the best brunch I’ve ever seen (complete with a chocolate fountain). But if brunch isn’t your thing, swing by Backward Bowls for a delicious, nutritious açaí or smoothie bowl! The bottom line is this: no matter where you end up, you’ll be eating quite well.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams: McConnell’s is easily my all-time favorite ice cream. Not only is the shop adorable and the ice cream great quality, you can sample as many flavors as you want, which can be quite a process when there are so many amazing flavors to choose from — I’m talking Early Grey Tea & Shortbread Cookies, Boysenberry Rosé Milk Jam, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, Whiskey & Pecan Pralines, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries, among so many others. But beware: on weekends, the line will be out the door.
Weather: You have never seen blue skies like this before. 74 and sunny has never looked so good. Santa Barbara’s climate, among other things, has earned it the nickname, “The American Riviera.” SoCal weather that’s never Palm-Springs-hot? NorCal weather that’s not so damp and foggy that you can’t even lay out on the beach? Santa Barbara is the happiest of mediums between the extremes of California. Let’s face it, this place is an oasis.
Sunsets: In the seven months I have lived here, I have witnessed more amazing sunsets than I can include in this post. In fact, it took me about half an hour to even narrow down my collection of photos to a few I can share. If you ever find yourself in or passing through SB, do yourself a favor — just sit and watch. You won’t be disappointed.
Beach: The Santa Barbara beaches are simply stunning. Never dirty, never overcrowded, just the crystal-clear ocean and huge spans of soft brown sand. Plus, they’re super easy to get to. Whether you want to park within close proximity of the water or you want to park somewhere cheaper on State, you can either walk to the beaches or hop on the electric shuttle that moves up and down State for 50 cents.
Concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl: The Santa Barbara Bowl might just be favorite concert venue. The size is perfect because it is big enough to attract popular artists (I just saw Haim there last month), yet still small enough to prevent the whole event from becoming utter chaos. Listening to some great music on a warm spring or summer night is hard to beat, especially when you can see the lights of the city twinkling in the distance after the sun sets.
Spanish Architecture: This alone is what made me fall in love with this city. The Spanish architecture makes Santa Barbara not only incredibly unique, but absolutely beautiful. The white buildings and red tile rooftops exude charm like no where else I’ve ever been in California. Some of most impressive buildings are the landmarks like the Mission and the Courthouse. (A tip for the Courthouse: climb to the top of the bell tower for a 360-degree view of the whole city. It’s breathtaking.)
The Small Details: Tucked all around the city are bits and pieces that together help make Santa Barbara so charming. From retro tablecloths in cafes and trendy awnings outside store fronts to tiled staircases hidden in the corners of State Street and pastel lifeguard towers lining the shore, appreciating the little things is half the fun in this city!
Mountains and Ocean: Santa Barbara is the only place I’ve ever seen with both mountains and ocean in such close proximity. Pictures don’t even do the sight justice; it is even more spectacular in person. One of the coolest things to do in SB is hike up to Inspiration Point, where you can see the ocean (as well as the entire city) from the mountains!
The size of the city: In my opinion, Santa Barbara is the perfect-sized city. It’s not so big that it is completely overwhelming (like L.A. or N.Y.C.), but you will never run out of things to do. The eateries alone are so numerous that you could almost never get to them all, not to mention that most people could spend more than a few days at the beach. I’m not worried about getting lost in Santa Barbara, I feel safe, and I can navigate the city easily; meanwhile, nestled in the hills are enough adventures to last a lifetime. (Also — this photo was taken from the top of the courthouse. Told you!)
Every day, it seems like this city captures another little piece of my heart. The Lord has so abundantly blessed me with the chance to live here and I am so thankful for it!
Also, if you ever plan a trip to Santa Barbara and are looking for a church to visit, check out Reality Santa Barbara or Reality Carpenteria — both are fantastic!
Thanks for stopping by Young & Joyful! I hope you’ll stick around!