Santa Barbara

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In an idyllic setting by the Pacific, with a high standard of living and a warm climate year round, Santa Barbara is the kind of place that people aspire to live in. There is a heavy Spanish influence in town, and the centre abounds with architectural evidence of such. It is also a college town, with the University of California, Santa Barbara being based here.

We spent three nights in Santa Barbara during our Californian coast tour of 2010, and it just so happened to be during the Old Spanish Days fiesta. Staying at the Santa Barbar Youth Hostel was cheap and cheerful, but not so good with the noise of the Amtrak trains honking their way past every hour of the day.

Santa Barbara Amtrak station

The Spanish style Amtrak station in Santa Barbara is right across from the Youth Hostel. We didn't have to spend any time here though, as we'd rented a car instead.

Dolphin fountain down by the base of Stearns Wharf, the pier at Santa Barbara beach.

Dolphin fountain

Santa Barbara beach

Santa Barbara beach, with the palm tree lined Cabrillo Boulevard, and the Santa Ynez Mountains not far away in the distance.

If I had a car like this, I'd definitely be cruising down by the beach. I think this is a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500, but correct me if I'm wrong.

1968 Shelby Cobra GT500

Rusty's Pizza Parlor

Down at the sea front on Cabrillo, this old lighthouse has been converted into Rusty's Pizza Parlor.

Examples of the Spanish style architecture on State Street, Santa Barbara's main drag. Also the ol' red and yellow Spanish flags are up for the fiesta weekend.

State Street old buildings

Old Spanish Days fiesta confetti eggs

Part of the fun of the Old Spanish Days fiesta in summertime is the confetti eggs, brightly painted and very entertaining to break over each other's heads.

The Café Buenos Aires, one of the higher end dining establishments in central Santa Barbara.

Café Buenos Aires

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara's Mission, also known as the "Queen of the Alta California Missions" was built in 1786, and is a little way out of the centre of town. Don't try walking there from the beach, if you are in a hurry!

Opposite the Mission are some of the beautiful Santa Barbara homes set amongst the trees, which make this such an aspirational place to live.

Santa Barbara suburbs

Alameda Plaza

There is no shortage of parks in Santa Barbara, this is a shot of the palm trees in Alameda Plaza, at the corner of Sola and Santa Barbara.

The county court house in Santa Barbara is another local landmark, opened in 1929 and still in use today. There was a flamenco show going on outside during the Old Spanish Days fiesta.

Santa Barbara Court House

Santa Barbara Marina

Boats in the morning at the marina adjacent to Stearns Wharf.

Fog shrouds the Santa Ynez Mountains in the morning at Santa Barbara Beach. After our stay in SB, we hit the road again and headed on for Santa Monica.

Morning fog by the beach

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2011