How to make the most of this coastal paradise

Much is made of Santa Barbara as the American Riviera ― not a melting pot but a highbrow bouillabaisse of society mavens and jaw-dropping wealth. But while it’s true that there are movie stars and money here, the real Santa Barbara is found along its waterfront, where beach bikes are the transportation of choice, sailboats turn lazily on their moorings, and fishermen lay out their fresh catch on the docks. Take a closer look at this coastal paradise.

Santa Barbara is 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles via U.S. 101. The area is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, so even in summer, temperatures are pleasant, with daytime highs in the low 70s and nights cooling to the low 60s. For visitor maps and information, visit or call 800/676-1266. 

What to do
Fisherman’s Market. Find the freshest seafood here. 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Sat. Santa Barbara Harbor.

Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show. More than 200 artisans set up along Cabrillo Boulevard. 10-dusk Sun (Sat-Sun on holiday weekends). or 805/897-1982.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The museum’s Munger Theater recently acquired a high-definition projector, bringing its summer film series to vivid life. $6, $3 ages 6-17. 113 Harbor Way; 805/962-8404.

Santa Barbara Sailing Center. Take a cruise and launch a kayak on the 50-foot Double Dolphin catamaran. $45, $25 ages 12 and under; reservations required. Santa Barbara Harbor boat launch; 805/962-2826.

Santa Barbara Zoo. Small and easily navigable, this is the perfect zoo for kids. $10, $8 ages 2-12. 500 Niños Dr.; or 805/962-6310.

Sunset Kidd Sailing. Morning, afternoon, and sunset cruises. $35; reservations recommended. 125 Harbor Way; 805/962-8222.

Ty Warner Sea Center. On tap this summer is a new shark exhibit. $7, $4 ages ?2-12. 211 Stearns Wharf; 805/962-2526. 

Wheel Fun Rentals. Hit the Cabrillo Beachway on a beach cruiser. Bike rentals from $7 per hour. 23 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; 805/966-2282.

Where to eat
Citronelle. Chef Patrick Becquet prepares artful seafood dishes such as ?sesame-crusted ahi in red curry sauce. $$$$; dinner daily. 901 E. Cabrillo; 805/963-0111.

The Endless Summer Bar-Cafe. There’s no better view of the Santa Barbara Harbor, and if the food’s good enough for local fishermen, we’re happy too. $$; lunch and dinner daily. 113 Harbor Way; 805/564-4666.

Restaurant Piranha. Robata grill and sushi; try the Piranha Roll or China Roll. $$; lunch Tue-Fri, dinner Tue-Sat. 714 State St.; 805/965-2980.

Tupelo Junction Cafe. Mouthwatering meals throughout the day, but the breakfasts are a don’t-miss. Try the signature cinnamon-apple beignets with crème anglaise. $$; breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 1218 State; 805/899-3100.

Where to stay
Brisas del Mar, Inn at the Beach. Two blocks from the beach and five blocks from the harbor. Modeled after a Mediterranean villa; some suites have hot tubs and kitchens. 31 rooms from $176. 223 Castillo St.; 800/468-1988.

Santa Barbara Inn. A friendly staff and a prime location right across from the East Beach volleyball courts. 69 rooms (each with a private balcony) from $169. 901 E. Cabrillo; 800/231-0431.

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