Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara in California, with a population of over 92,000, is located on the west coast of the United States, 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, between the Santa Ynez mountain range to the east of the city and the Pacific. Known as the American Riviera, the city is an extremely important resort and tourist center as well as being a hub of education with numerous universities and colleges. Transport links are excellent with its own Santa Barbara Airport and road connections directly to San Francisco and Los Angeles via US Highway 101. Santa Barbara is not only a trendy, up market and upbeat city, but a nature lovers' paradise too, as behind the Santa Ynez Mountains is the Los Padres National Forest – only one among many with beautiful trails and ecology to explore. There are also a host of green areas and parks within the city limits. Those moving to Santa Barbara will discover many cultural venues too, among them the Santa Barbara Bowl, a natural amphitheater with seating for nearly 5,000, Also within the city are the Arlington, Granada and Lobero Theatres and a host of music venues, including an annual music festival held in the summer.
Although archeological excavations date the city back at least 13,000 years, its modern history really began in 1542 when João Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer, made landfall in the area, to be followed in 1602 by Sebastian Vizcaino who actually gave the city its name in thanks to St Barbara who, he believed, guided him through a storm on her feast day. 1782 saw the first European settlers – Spanish missionaries. In 1812 a huge earthquake and tsunami ravaged the area and these settlers rebuilt the city with structures that are still to be seen today. Santa Barbara was under Spanish control until 1822 when it was taken over, for the next 24 years, by Mexico. In 1846 American soldiers stormed the area and defeated the Mexicans during the Mexican-American War, whereupon it became part of the United States.
The economy of Santa Barbara is based on tourism and education, offering work opportunities to many. It is estimated that tourism alone brings in more than a billion dollars annually
As a seaside city with a Mediterranean climate and stunning beaches, Santa Barbara draws visitors from far and wide year round. Coupled with its Spanish architecture and historical landmarks, it has a multitude of attractions like fiestas, arts and crafts markets and its own International Film Festival. Stearns Wharf and Ty Warner Sea Center draw thousands to its restaurants and shopping area, while many museums, including Rafael Gonzales House constructed of adobe bricks is one of many national historical landmarks. Restaurants serving locally caught seafood and wine of international standing abound, as do pubs, bars and coffee shops.