The city calls itself the American Riviera, and if you travel to Santa Barbara you'll see why: This central coast city, which sits on an idyllic stretch of coastline and is sheltered by the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains, has a Mediterranean-like climate and a civility that feels downright European. In fact, it once was European: the Spanish settled the city in the 1600s, and the Mission Santa Barbara is still one of the city's most treasured landmarks. Given the city's sophisticated charm—and high prices—many celebrities have made a Santa Barbara visit over the years, from Charlie Chaplin, who built a hotel, to Oprah Winfrey, who has a house nearby.
Things Not to Miss in Santa Barbara
Read our Santa Barbara travel guide to explore this jewel on the Pacific, and be sure to visit some of the most popular attractions, including:
• Mission Santa Barbara
• El Presidio State Historic Park
• Tasting Santa Ynez wines
• State Street
• Butterfly Beach
• Santa Barbara Zoo
When to Go to Santa Barbara
Luckily, there is not a lot of variation in temperature over the course of the year, so any day can be a gorgeous day in Santa Barbara. But here are some factors to consider:
• The Santa Barbara travel season peaks in summer, both in terms of crowds and prices. July through September will have the warmest temperatures for swimming, while June can be iffy, thanks to the higher chance of fog (locals call it June Gloom).
• Early fall can bring summery swimming weather, and the prices drop a bit, too, making it a good time to visit. The only weather risks come from the falls of Santa Ana and "sundowner" winds, which can be strong.
• Winter and early spring carry the highest likelihood of rain and cooler temperatures—sometimes it's downright chilly at night—but the season also has the lowest prices.