Breathtaking beachesPainter on Butterfly BeachSanta Barbara bay viewFamily at LotuslandHistoric Santa Barbara CourthouseLocally produced wineOutdoor playgroundSandpiper Golf Club in Goleta Courtesy of Aidan Bradley Photography

Families will love:

  • Natural beauty and man-made entertainment
  • Fantastic beaches
  • Outdoor-lover's delight

The Golden State. There's so much to see and do. With an abundance of natural beauty and man-made entertainment, it's hard to pick just one vacation destination in California. But, Santa Barbara has a little bit of it all -- fantastic beaches, an amazing local wine industry just up the road, the glamour of all the Hollywood exiles (Ellen Degeneres! Oprah!), who go there ... more
The Golden State. There's so much to see and do. With an abundance of natural beauty and man-made entertainment, it's hard to pick just one vacation destination in California. But, Santa Barbara has a little bit of it all -- fantastic beaches, an amazing local wine industry just up the road, the glamour of all the Hollywood exiles (Ellen Degeneres! Oprah!), who go there for more privacy. Then there's the nature. Perched on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and propped against the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is an outdoor-lover's delight, offering hiking, biking and endless water sports (some of the best surfing spots in the state are right up the road) and a year-round temperate climate that truly makes it a destination for any month. There's also the history, of course. The city shows off its missionary past at every turn, with its classic Spanish architecture.

The small size of the city makes Santa Barbara incredibly navigable, even for those who have never visited. There are no clogged freeways to contend with, but if you do decide to go carless while you're there, Santa Barbara provides local visitors with a free trolley shuttle that circles the downtown and waterfront area every 15 minutes.

When you go, be sure to take the time to explore the surrounding areas. The local wine regions of Solvang and beyond are beautiful to tour, and the vintners are experts at making guests feel at home. Meanwhile, the protected coastlines north of the city are rare sights in this age of overdevelopment.

Santa Barbara is easily accessible, via the local international airport, and is just a short drive (less than two hours in good traffic) from Los Angeles International Airport. Other, smaller options include the John Wayne Orange County Airport and the Burbank Airport.

Written by Amanda Orr less

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