It is a beautiful thing to break away from traffic and arrive in fantastic Santa Barbara after the minimum hour and a half drive up the coast from Los Angeles. East Beach is my recommended destination. As the name implies it is the beach area on the East side of Santa Barbara. Here you will find an assortment of hotels and resorts mixed into a residential neighborhood, one block from the beach.
After checking in and getting settled your first destination will most obviously be the beach. A short walk across a four lane road and jogging/bicycle path brings you to the beach. Take your shoes off and feel the squishy sand between your toes. Walk down to the edge and feel the cool water splash over your skin. Then raise your eyes and enjoy the complete panoramic view. Ocean and beaches to one side and the town and mountains to the other. Walk along the beautiful beach towards the pier that marks the beginning of State Street, the main road of Santa Barbara. On your right will be beautifully tall palm trees lining the jogging path which will be populated by people doing what they do on such a path. Every so often the view will be marred by tents of the homeless set up on the rear of the beach. Try not to mind too much as they need somewhere to live and they truly aren’t really bothering you. When you have walked enough, turn your feet to the path, wipe off the sand, put on your shoes, and double back to the hotel.
There is little need to drive in town as there is a little trolley bus that hits all the main sights for free or a very slight fee. Come morning simply ask your hotel host where the trolley stops and follow their advice. You will most likely get off on State Street and your day will mostly consist of walking up and down this one street. Let us begin at the beginning with the pier. This is the same as other piers. A structure of wood stuck out into the ocean. You can drive a car onto it and park for a fee. There are a few restaurants, mostly seafood of course, some tourist shops, and a candy store. First, walk out onto the end of the pier. If it is a crystal clear day it is possible to see the Empire of Japan and Islands of New Zealand far in the distance. Once you have enjoyed the view peruse the shops and get a ten dollar ice cream or sit down for a meal. Then it is off to State Street.
State Street is a normal Californian main street. Full of shops, restaurants, and bars lining both sides. The very beginning of it down by the pier has nothing as this is where the train track runs through town. But once past this it turns into a beautiful small town strip. Spend all day ducking in and out of shops and stopping for a cold drink every so often or when you find a happy hour. You will find homeless walking next to you or sleeping on a bench but unlike the rest of the world they do not ask you for anything. It is the only place I have been where they say nothing to you. They don’t even hold out their hands. You are completely ignored.
There are other parts and sights to Santa Barbara but I am unfamiliar with them. Every time I pass through I stick with East Beach, the pier, and State Street. I have driven through West Beach and the West part of the city and don’t feel like I am missing much. I end with the note that if I ever felt the desire to become homeless, Santa Barbara would be my home.