Explore Santa Barbara
ZIP codes: 93101, 93103, 93105, 93109
Housing Units: 37,820
Census Year: 2010
People, Places & Things
Most days, those who call Santa Barbara home feel like the "luckiest people on Earth". "Idyllic" climate, "stunning" vistas, and a community drawn to achieving “qualify of life” help to create a "sense of contentment" and the distinctively low-key Santa Barbara “vibe.”
Life in Santa Barbara is a "wonderful life" indeed: a “friendly, small-town” environment with beachside resort activities, countless recreational opportunities — many in “pristine” wilderness areas — and most of the amenities one might expect in a major city. Plus, “nearly everything you could possibly desire” lies within a 15-minute drive.
Mountains and beaches face south in Santa Barbara — a most unusual orientation that creates a “balmy oasis” protected from rough seas and winds. Thanks to hardworking preservationists, much of the landscape remains in its natural, rugged state. Santa Barbara's “ideal", "relatively consistent” climate means that one can “play” outdoors all year round.
But beyond the obvious physical attributes, Santa Barbara also offers "world-class" cultural arts, museums and entertainment, plus historic landmarks and gardens; fresh organic produce easily fetched from several weekly farmers markets, fine dining representing nearly every cuisine at hundreds of "outstanding" restaurants; and innumerable "spirit-boosting" endeavors.
To be sure, Santa Barbara often evokes images of “stunning beauty and glamour”. Located just 90 miles north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara has long been a draw to the "Hollywood elite". But beneath the stylish “veneer”, Santa Barbara is really a “genuine place with a big heart”, filled with friendly people from “all walks of life”. In return for its many gifts, Santa Barbarans give back to their community, volunteering at hundreds of nonprofits and supporting its many cultural programs in every way possible. This community “genuinely cares” about the region and works hard to “preserve” its character.
As you stroll through Santa Barbara's streets, you will see that this is a town of "unique" neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive character. From the historic West-side Victorians on Brinkerhoff, to the iconic Mission Revival homes on Santa Barbara's Upper East, to the charming cottages in tree-lined San Roque and the eclectic Mediterranean mixed-use condominium developments downtown, Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods offer residents a varied and distinctive style of architecture and a unique "sense of place" in their own special corner of town.
City of Santa Barbara
Stunning views of mountains and the sea. Fantastic weather. White-sand beaches and gorgeous gardens. Big-city culture and dining. Check out the red tile roofs and Spanish-Moorish architecture. Feast your eyes on world-class works in the Museum of Art, or catch a concert at "The Bowl". Stroll along the shore while the waves lap at your feet. Hike or ride a horse in the hills. Find one-of-a-kind treasures in shops of all types. Santa Barbara packs an incredible array of attractions in an enviable package.
Montecito’s zip code, 93108, is one of the wealthiest in the entire nation. Starting in the 1880s, movers and shakers from around the world vacationed in Santa Barbara. The fantastic climate hooked more than a few, of course, and they decided to plant some roots. Today Montecito harbors many a celeb, from Oprah Winfrey and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss to Rob Lowe and Jeff Bridges. Celebs and humble peons alike shop, dine, and hobnob on Coast Village Road and the Upper Village, Montecito’s social and retail districts. Drive or bike along the tree-shaded lanes and do what the locals do: hang out on a sunny restaurant patio, read the paper, and don’t make a fuss if you see a famous face.
Population: ca. 1,000
Don’t blink or you might miss it! Vineyards and ranches surround the tiny town of Ballard, just off Alamo Pintado Road between Los Olivos and Santa Ynez. Local kids have learned the three R’s in Ballard’s little red schoolhouse since 1893. Plan ahead for dinner at The Ballard Inn—chef-owner Budi Kazali cooks up some of the region’s most delectable meals.
Buellton is the first town you see when you exit Highway 101 at Highway 246, about 40 miles north of Santa Barbara. If you saw the film Sideways, it will look very familiar. Remember the windmill at the Days Inn? Those fast, lanky ostriches at Ostrich Land? When hunger pangs hit, pop into Hitching Post II for an oak-grilled steak, or Pea Soup Andersen’s for a steaming bowl. By the way, Buellton is a local shopping and dining hub and therefore great place to stock up on provisions for wine touring picnics.
Carp, as the locals call it, lies 12 miles southeast of Santa Barbara. The native Chumash used to build canoes here, using naturally seeping tar to seal the boats. When the Spaniards happened upon the boatbuilders in the late 1700s, they named the place carpinteria, or “carpentry shop”.
Carp is a quiet little town with great restaurants and mom-and-pop shops. Stroll down the main drag, Linden Avenue, all the way to tranquil Carpinteria City Beach.
For more action, drive just a few miles south to Rincon Point, where you can watch surfers rip a world-class break. Then wind your way through the rural valley that stretches beneath the foothills and craggy mountains—it’s filled with flower nurseries, polo fields, avocado farms, and horse ranches.
Cuyama is cowboy country: a dry valley in the high mountain desert in the far northeastern stretches of the county. Here you’ll find two small outposts, New Cuyama and Cuyama, right next to each other. One of the best times to visit is spring, when wildflowers cover the slopes and meadows. It might take some effort to get to this remote hidden gem, but you’ll be rewarded with pristine vistas, endless wildlife viewing possibilities, and total serenity. You can drive here in about two hours from the city of Santa Barbara, or fly into the small airport.
Goleta, home to UCSB and the airport, hugs the coast about 12 miles west of Santa Barbara. The Spaniards initially named the place “The Good Land.” The official name changed later to Goleta, after a schooner that arrived here in 1822.
Sniff. Is that the scent of lemon you detect wafting through the air? Yep. Lemon orchards once dominated the landscape; they’re still here, and Goleta celebrates those lemons in a big way during a weekend festival in October.
Head for Goleta for outdoor adventures: fish on the pier, surf at Campus Point, kayak and spot wildlife in the Goleta Slough, and hike on the bluffs above miles of beaches. Kids—take your parents to the Goleta Valley Depot and Railroad Museum to ride a miniature train, and walk the grounds around Stow House, a restored 1890s Victorian.
If you like to stray off the beaten path, head for Guadalupe, a funky town famed for its authentic Mexican food and the Far West Tavern, which Sunset magazine named as one of the Top Ten Barbecue Restaurants in the West in 2009. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve—16 miles of humungous sand dunes and incredible wildlife habitat—starts in Guadalupe, in the county’s northwest corner, and stretches northward along the coast toward Pismo Beach. Sign up for a guided hike at the Dunes Center, and check out the 1923 Ten Commandments movie set buried here—the movie was filmed here in 1923. Keep an eye out for endangered birds like snowy plovers and California terns who take refuge here—this place is a nature lover’s dream. The funky
Pull off the 101 at the Los Alamos exit between Buellton and Santa Maria, and you might think you just stepped from a stagecoach into an Old West time warp. Two ranchers donated part of their spreads to help found this town in 1876, and many original structures still line Bell Street, the seven-block main drag. Be sure to browse through the Depot Antique Mall in the historic train station, and check out the thoroughly modern galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants within the western-style buildings.
Travel west on Highway 246 from Buellton and you soon arrive in the Lompoc Valley, gateway to the Sta. Rita Hills wine country, a cool-climate appellation that produces world-class pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. From May to September you can also feast your eyes on flower fields forever, when the meadows and hillsides burst into color. Fantastic ocean and wildlife experiences lie just down the road at Jalama Beach and Ocean Beach, two rugged and pristine county parks.
Be sure to save an hour or so to follow the Old Town Lompoc Heritage Walk, and check out some of the city’s famed murals. Lompoc is also home to La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Vandenberg Air Force Base (one of the nation’s most important military and aerospace installations), and one of wine country’s best-kept secrets: the Wine Ghetto, a cluster of boutique wineries and tasting rooms in an industrial park.
Los Olivos is an eclectic Old West town dating back to the 1860s. It’s a slice of upscale Americana, with art galleries, an art museum, boutiques, hotels, and nearly 20 wine-tasting rooms within walking distance of one another. Art galleries and shops in Victorian-style buildings line Grand Avenue, the casual main street centered by a vintage flagpole. Stop at Brother’s Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern, a former stagecoach stop, and take time to chat with the locals who often gather with friends on wooden porches to enjoy the day.
Santa Maria Valley
Cowboys once ruled the range up in the far north county, where the Santa Maria River flows from the high peaks mountains to the sea. Today it’s a wine country hub, with first-class vineyards and wineries. Many of these hug the slopes on the eastern fringes, along the famed Santa Maria Bench growing area. Santa Maria lures cowboys and winemakers alike into town with myriad shopping and dining options. Along with wines, Santa Maria claims fame with its mouthwatering barbecue style: take a slab of tri-tip beef sirloin (a local butcher purportedly came up with this unusual cut), ‘cue it over red-oak fire, and serve it up with salsa and pinquito beans. Yum.
Hitch up your hoss and pull off your dusty boots: this town looks much the same as it did in the 1880s. Many of the original false-front buildings still stand along the town’s main drag, Sagunto Street, although many house shops and restaurants rather than blacksmith shops and feed stores. View authentic Western garb and coaches at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum & Carriage House, then sit a spell at the historic Maverick Saloon, where cowboys and cowboys-at-heart relax and refresh.
Wineries and tasting rooms, fantastic restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques pepper the town. Just down the road, the Chumash Casino Resort & Spa offers 24/7 gaming and world-class concerts. Outdoor adventures abound in the surrounding Los Padres National Forest recreational areas along the Santa Ynez River. Hike, camp, swim, and fish—the sky’s the limit.
You know you’ve entered Solvang when the horse ranches along Highway 246 turn into windmills and half-timber buildings with thatched roofs. Danish settlers founded the town in 1911 near Mission Santa Ines. Nearly everything they built celebrated Scandinavian life, from pastry shops and cobblestone courtyards, to smorgasbord stations and fairy-tale houses. Solvang recently morphed into a 21st-century wine country hub while preserving its Scandinavian heritage. Walk to nearly 20 wine tasting rooms clustered in the town center and sate your sweet tooth with aebleskiver, melt-in-your-mouth Danish pancake balls.
The town’s name says it all: it’s a classic California beach town. Swing off the 101 at Evans Avenue, just a few miles south of Santa Barbara. Stroll along Lillie Avenue and browse for antiques. Fill up on omelets or burgers at a cozy café, shop for swimsuits and head for the beach. On the way, stop at blufftop Lookout Park, just above the waves, and take in the killer views.