For thousands of years, Santa Barbara was home to the native Chumash Indians until 1780 when Spanish

settlers arrived. In the 1820s to 1850, the bucolic enclave was a colony of Mexico. Then during the Gold Rush--California became a U.S. state. Today--the American Riviera glitters in the sun. White jasmine, purple morning-glories, yellow trumpet vines and red bougainvillea burst from the Mission, spill over white-washed adobes, through lush Montecito estates, and down to the palmfringed blue sea. Ten-visitor tips from a former Santa Barbara resident: 1. Visit the Queen of the Missions on upper Laguna Street for a glimpse into the simple, elegant and disciplined Spanish life. Be sure to walk over to the rose garden across the street. This visit conveys the area's renaissance from Chumash villages that hugged the coast from where Malibu to San Luis Obispo now stand. And explains how the Chumash and Franciscans worked together to cultivate vineyards, crops, orange and olive groves-and reveals the origins of Santa Barbara Style today. 2. A self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour incorporates the Spanish-Moorish County Courthouse at 1100 Anacapa Street, and historic adobes, like El Presidio at 123 E. Canon Perdido Street, El Paseo, and La Arcada all adjacent to the upscale Paseo Nuevo Mall. The tour is walkable in an hour—with a 25-cent DowntownWaterfront Trolley that traces the Red Tile District route to East Beach. 3. East Beach offers volleyball courts, showers, a playground and a grill parallel to Chase Palm Park where inline skaters, joggers,

and rental pedal carts enjoy waterfront paseos. On the moonrise end of the beach is the Bird Sanctuary and Santa Barbara Zoo & Gardens. At the sunset opposite is historic Stearns Wharf. 4. After a visit to the wharf, walk further west and you’ll arrive at the boat harbor. Upstairs in a building facing the docks is Brophy Brothers. The famed ‘fish dive’ offers a narrow balcony for dining amid sunsets that paint everything a gilded pink. You’ll enter to Sinatra on the jukebox and a colorful mix of fisherman, surfers, local college kids, retirees, and tourists quaffing local wines. Reasonable prices and winning every local ‘Best Seafood Restaurant’ and ‘Best Clam Chowder’ award imaginable--make it a perennial hit. 5. Another cult favorite that Julia Child exalted as a hidden jewel is La Super Rica Taqueria (622 North Milpas Street). The colorful taco-shack serves freshly made tortillas with every tasty order. 6. In adjacent tony Montecito, Coast Village is a scenic short road of upscale shops, bistros and small inns that intersects San Ysidro Road—turn up towards the foothills to visit Upper Village a mile or so away. The Village Pharmacy is a popular breakfast spot. Turn down on San Ysidro toward the beach and discover a secret dirt path just over the railroad tracks that is arched with tangles of wisteria, geraniums and buzzing with bees--and leads to pastoral Hammonds Meadow and a forest of eucalyptus trees. The path links three beaches between the Miramar and Biltmore Hotels, and passes beautiful oceanfront homes.

7. Hiking and bike trail maps are available at the Visitor Center. For bike and in-line skate rentals go to Beach Rentals at 22 State Street. Horseback rides can be arranged through Circle B Stables (805-968-3901), including sunset and sunrise excursions. Sunset Kidd Sailing Charters (805-962-8222) offers day tours, seasonal whale watches, and sunset cruises. Truth Aquatics (805-9621127) provides Channel Island trips with kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking. And rental kayaks are also available at Captain Jacks. 8.The Farmer's Market (805-962-5354)is held Tuesdays on the 500 & 600 blocks of State Street from 4pm - 7:30pm. Bountiful fresh produce, flowers, fresh juices, cheeses, preserves, prepared foods, music and crafts create a festival for the senses. Bring your camera and shopping bags—you’re in for a treat. 9. Two historic resorts are architectural must-sees. San Ysidro Ranch is a 500-acre ocean-view paradise nestled in the sage and lavender scented foothills--rated America's #1 hotel by Forbes. Jack and Jackie Kennedy spent part of their honeymoon in one of the chic bungalows. Call ahead for lunch reservations, and stroll the heavenly grounds. 10. Down at the water’s edge is the Four Seasons Biltmore. Built in 1927 as a private Mediterranean-Spanish Colonial estate the setting offers spectacular ocean views from the terrace restaurant. Sip wine and watch dolphins, pelicans and seagulls trace top-heavy fishing tugs back into the harbor at sunset. Takein the sumptuous gardens and white sand beach across the street. Perhaps you'll spot local resident, Oprah, or any of the dozens of stars that call Montecito home.

Wine Country Bonus: The California Wine Festival July 15-17 is the quintessential event for 2,500+ festival goers that combines gourmet food, music, the sea and sun, and hundreds of California’s best wines. Saturday’s one ticket price covers unlimited tasting. Other evening events are romantic and reflect Santa Barbara's Spanish heritage. For the price of a few days in Europe—you can absorb Santa Barbara-style that sinks into your bones like a forever spiritual home. What stays with me is the beautiful fragrance of Santa Barbara that is like nowhere else. Spend a few days there and wherever else you roam--just close your eyes to get that 'Santa Barbara feeling.' For More Links and Info:

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