Cristal Clarke’s 10 Reasons Why Santa Barbara Is Home

Cristal Clarke

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Photo Credit: Summers Case

There’s so much to love about living in Santa Barbara. It’s difficult to choose only 10 reasons, but we were challenged to do that, so here goes . . .

10 Reasons Why Living in Santa Barbara is a Dream Come True

#1 – The weather. Few other places have a temperate Mediterranean climate like Santa Barbara. Due to its central, protected location, Santa Barbara enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and hardly has to worry about storm clouds appearing on its horizon.

The average annual rainfall here is no more than 18 inches. Of course, we do have exceptions in the form of occasional downpours, dry spells, and even dustings of snow on our beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains. Snow? In Santa Barbara? Well, the last time it actually snowed in Santa Barbara was in January of 1949 when 2 inches fell.

Photo Credit: Summers Case

#2 – The beaches. The area has been dubbed the American Riviera with good reason. There’s no shortage of creamy, sun-kissed beaches here. Within the city itself are East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach: all broad, beautiful and family-friendly.

Swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, beach volleyball, and traditional surfing are among the favorite beach sports. In fact, the Santa Barbara area has long been a surfing mecca. Some of the best places to catch a wave here are Leadbetter Point in Santa Barbara, Hammonds in Montecito, and Rincon Point just a short drive down Hwy 101.

#3 – The Spanish Colonial architecture. Santa Barbara’s collection of white stucco homes, government, commercial and retail buildings with red tile roofs and intricate wrought-iron detailing is one of its defining features. Many in the downtown area were built after the 1925 earthquake, which technically makes them Spanish Colonial Revival.

Photo Credit: Summers Case

Visitors and locals alike appreciate the beauty of Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and other historically and architecturally significant landmarks. The local affluent enclaves of Hope Ranch and Montecito are the location of world-class estates built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

#4 – Stearns Wharf and the Harbor. Stearns Wharf is the oldest working wharf in California and dates back to 1872. Now home to a vibrant array of shops and restaurants, it is one of the city’s most notable landmarks and one of the best places to get a good view of the coast. It is also, along with the harbor area, one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. The Santa Barbara Harbor hosts more than a thousand boat slips. It’s a great place to see a wide array of watercraft: from vintage dinghies to impressive yachts.

#5 – State Street and the Downtown area. This is the cultural and commercial heart of the city and is immensely walkable. Take a stroll, browse through the shops – quite a few of which are one-of-a-kind – and sample a variety of international cuisines in upscale restaurants and charming cafés.

Photo Credit: Berkshire Hathaway

Don’t miss Santa Barbara’s “Funk Zone,” a former warehouse district that is newly hopping with wine and beer tasting rooms, galleries, eateries and much more. Downtown Farmer’s Markets are popular as well and are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

#6 – The homes. One of the biggest reasons for living in Santa Barbara is the scope and variety of architectural styles. From Spanish, Craftsman, Tudor and Contemporary, to charming cottages and bungalows — many just a few blocks from the city center — assure every potential home buyer a chance at finding a home they’ll love. You can live near the downtown area, in the Riviera neighborhood overlooking the town and with spectacular ocean and island views, or in the family-friendly La Cumbre and Rincon Valley neighborhoods.

#7 – The cultural scene. The arts are very much alive in Santa Barbara and you can spend days gallery hopping here, and nights enjoying theatrical and ballet performances, musical concerts, and more. Among the most notable venues are:

#8 – The wines. The world-class vineyards and wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley are less than an hour over beautiful San Marcos Pass, and there are more than a few wineries and tasting rooms in Santa Barbara’s “Funk Zone” downtown.

#9 – The Backcountry. The great outdoors is never too far away when you’re living in Santa Barbara and if you’re not in the mood for the beach, you can always head to the hills and up into the Santa Ynez Mountains. Hike, bike or ride a horse into the San Rafael Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest.

#10 – The Bastions of Higher Education. There are no fewer than two public and six private post-secondary schools in Santa Barbara or nearby. The largest is the University of California at Santa Barbara, one of the most popular schools in the entire University of California system. Santa Barbara City College is a highly rated 2-year college in the U.S. For a complete list of Santa Barbara area schools, check out the Schools page.

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