Santa Barbara, CA  Map

We selected this city as the starting point for our coastal route drive north. This decision was based upon Santa Barbara's beauty, it's Spanish Style architecture and the proximity to the beach from our incredible hotel.

We splurged for this stay, and utilized the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. The hotel's location was a big plus, the beach was just across the street and perhaps 200 yards from Stearns Wharf.

Fun or Interesting facts about Santa Barbara
  • Humans have inhabited the area around Santa Barbara for more than 12,000 years.
  • Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo — a Portuguese captain exploring for the Spanish crown – sailed up the California coast in search of the Northwest Passage. In October, 1542, Cabrillo’s ships came near the modern day Santa Barbara, and during his brief visit, he claimed the entire area for Spain.
  • Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno sailed into the channel between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands during rough seas on December 4, 1602, which was also Saint Barbara’s feast day. Vizcaíno named the area “Santa Barbara” after Saint Barbara, a legendary martyr of the early Christian Church. (Saint Barbara was beheaded by her father in 342 AD for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.)
  • The Spaniards returned 167 years later to establish missions and forts in “Alta” California to secure the region for Spain. In April, 1782 Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in Santa Barbara — tasked with fortifying the region against expansion by England and Russia, and converting the natives to Christianity.
  • The Santa Barbara Mission was established on December 4, 1786 — the Feast of Saint Barbara Day — by Padre Fermín Lasuén, primarily for the religious conversion the indigenous Chumash tribe to Catholicism.
  • Mission Santa Barbara is the only mission to remain under the leadership of the Franciscan Friars since its founding in 1796, and today is a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
  • During the Mexican–American War, Santa Barbara fell to a battalion of American soldiers led by John C. Fremont on December 27, 1846.
  • When Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf pier was opened in 1872 at the end of State Street, it was the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today Stearns Wharf is one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks with restaurants, shops and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Santa Barbara’s famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree – located by the Amtrak Train Station at 209 State Street — provides more than 21,000 square feet of shade and is considered to be the largest Ficus macrophylla in the United States
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

As you can see in these pictures, and as you will be able to see in any reviews of this hotel, it is beautifully located right across the street from East Beach & the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is comprised of 8 Spanish style buildings, large interior court pool, bar & dining room, etc. There is even a place to rent bicycles, which is great because there is a very nice bike path named "Beachfront Breeze" which runs along the coast for 9.3 miles.
NOTE: Click here to view a complete list of the Santa Barbara bicycle trails.

Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara was established on December 4, 1786 by Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, and was the tenth of the 21 California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. Today the Mission operations include a museum, gift shop, cemetery and mausoleum, and several historic gardens, as well as being the home to a community of Franciscan Friars on about 15 acres. The Mission is also home base for Saint Barbara Parish, which operates under the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library, a separate Franciscan-sponsored non-profit, and a Novitiate which provides the first year of education for Friars in training from across the United States.

Santa Barbara Beach

The large image above is of Cabrillo Park, a multi-use park situated adjacent to the Hilton Santa Barbara Resort & across the street from East Beach.

There is quite a bit of free parking available for East Beach, but locals will tell you that it goes fast on a nice day. Amenities include; Accessible Features, Grass Park, Kids Play Area, Lifeguard, Paved Bike/roller blading path, Picnic Tables, Pier, Restaurant, Public Restrooms, Showers, Skate Park, Volleyball Courts, Walking Paths
Activities: Biking, Metal Detecting, Picnicking, Running, Skating, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Sunbathing, Swimming, Volleyball, Walking.
NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Santa Barbara Coastline

Santa Barbara Coastline narrative goes here........

East Beach Tacos

One evening we were not hungry enough for a "formal meal" and research had revealed to us that there was a good taco place nearby on Milpas Street. So we walked over and found East Beach Tacos doing a brisk business and we could easily see that the crowd was enjoying the Mexican food. We had tacos, chips & guacamole and it was very good. This is an "order and we'll let you know when it is ready" kind of place, with a number of tables near the batting cages.
Click here for their website.

Santa Barbara History

Santa Barbara is a unique city in California; it has a diverse economy that includes a large service sector, education, technology, health care, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and local government. Education in particular is well represented, with four institutions of higher learning on the south coast: the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Santa Barbara City College, Westmont College, and Antioch University. The city is served by Santa Barbara Airport and train service is provided by Amtrak, which operates the Pacific Surfliner, which runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. The Santa Barbara area is connected via U.S. Highway 101 to Los Angeles 100 miles to the southeast and San Francisco 325 miles to the northwest. Behind the city, in and beyond the Santa Ynez Mountains, is the Los Padres National Forest, which contains several remote wilderness areas. Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are located approximately 20 miles offshore.

Santa Barbara has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate characteristic of coastal California. Santa Barbara's weather was ranked number 1 in the United States in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report. Because the city lies along the ocean and parallel to the predominant westerly winds, sideshore and light onshore breezes moderate temperatures resulting in warmer winters and cooler summers compared with places farther inland.

The history of Santa Barbara is long, complex and involves a number of countries, here is a quick list of the historical highlights but for a more complete description click here to view the Santa Barbara Wikipedia Page.

  • The first recorded visits by Europeans was in 1542 by the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.
  • In 1602, Spanish maritime explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno gave the name "Santa Barbara" to the Santa Barbara Channel and also to one of the Channel Islands.
  • In 1782 Don Felipe de Neve arrived to build the Presidio of Santa Barbara. Most of the soldiers who came with him, upon their retirement, built homes in the area for the families who came with them.
  • In 1793, Captain George Vancouver, the British explorer who was circumnavigating the globe on the Vancouver Expedition, anchored HMS Discovery off West Beach.
  • In 1822 Spanish rule ceased after the Mexican war of Independence.
  • The Mexican Government opened up California trade to the world.
  • The United States conquest of California in the Mexican–American War broke out in May 1846 over the annexation of Texas. The Mexican Army initially repulsed the takeover of Santa Barbara until Major John C. Fremont attacked on December 24, 1846 with a force of 300 men. Click here to read the John C. Fremont Wikipedia Article.
  • In 1850 California became the 31st State in the United States.
 Camera Equipment Utilized 
  • California Road Trip Overview Page: This page will give you a view of the entire trip, including maps and other information regarding each of our destinations; click here to read more.
  • San Francisco: our arrival airport as well as our first adventure in California - we explored it via walking, cable car as well as uBer. Click here to view our San Francisco page.
  • Bonita Point & Sausalito: We visited this area as we drove north from San Francisco to wine country. Click here to view our Bonita Point & Sausalito page.
  • Santa Rosa / Sonoma County: This is the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, and we explored this area with enthusiasm. Click here to view our Santa Rosa / Sonoma County page.
  • Muir Woods National Monument: One of the few Coast Redwood Forests remaining, the trees are stunning. After hiking about, we headed north through Muir Beach & Stinson Beach. Click here to view our Muir Woods National Monument page.
  • Rush Creek Lodge & Spa: . A beautiful place to stay, right on California Route 120 at the western edge of Yosemite National Park. Click here to view our Rush Creek Lodge & Spa page.
  • Yosemite National Park: A large and beautiful park, with amazing geography. Click here to view our Yosemite National Park page.
  • Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fresno, CA: We discovered this interesting place as we were searching for a good lunch spot in Fresno. The way it was built, and how the builder created such a fascinating home was well worth the time we spent there. Click here to view our Forestiere Underground Gardens page.
  • Santa Barbara, CA: This was the start of our "coastal drive" through California, and this city is such a great place to start such a drive. Click here to view our Santa Barbara page.
  • Coast Highway, CA: Even though we were looking forward to seeing Monterey, part of our enthusiasm was due to being able to drive north on this highway. Click here to view our Coast Highway page.
  • Monterey, CA: Somewhat of a "living museum" but now adjusting to life as a "tourist destination", this is a neat town that has a split personality, ie; one part bayside beach tourist town and the other part a typical California beach town where residents live. Click here to view our Monterey page.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA: This was a day trip drive we took to Carmel-by-the-Sea as we drove south to hike at Point Lobos. Click here to view our Carmel page.

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