You get more beach on Santa Barbara holidays than you could imagine. The endless sands of East Beach are at the centre of the action, but there are plenty other quieter spots. Hendry's Beach is a quiet cove backed by towering cliffs, which is also good for surfing; and Butterfly Beach, in an exclusive neighbourhood, is west-facing, so perfect for sun sets. Plus there are many more.
An icon of the town, the Spanish-Moorish courthouse combines beautiful architecture with manicured gardens and a fabulous view. Inside, the highlight is the Mural Room, where enormous wall paintings tell a romanticised version of Santa Barbara's history. Up at the top of the observation tower you can drink in a stupendous view stretching from the mountains to the ocean.
The Glorious Grape
The rolling foothills and shallow valleys surrounding Santa Barbara make for perfect vine-growing territory, putting plenty of wine tastings on the menu. You can either venture out of town to visit wineries first-hand, or stick closer to home and follow the Urban Wine Trail, which takes in over 20 tasting rooms within the downtown and beachfront areas.
This historic wooden pier is a Santa Barbara institution, and local fishermen still unload their catch here. There's also great views to be had, and a whole host of other things to keep you occupied, including the Ty Warner Sea Centre, which has aquariums and touch-tanks. Other plus points include plenty of shops and restaurants - even a wine tasting room.
Santa Barbara is known for its shopping, and there are plenty of options. State Street has the biggest concentration of stores, including one-off boutiques. Brinkerhoff Avenue is 'antiques alley',while at the El Paseo and Paseo Nuevo malls you'll find an endless number of stores, galleries and department stores.