The Old Mission is Santa Barbara, California
Founded by Europeans in 1786, Santa Barbara teems with centuries of history. To learn about the first inhabitants of the American Riviera, the Chumash Indians, visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, both of which are located downtown. If you're looking for Spanish inspiration, head to Old Mission Santa Barbara, the city's chief cultural landmark that was established in 1786.
Santa Barbara, California, Channel Islands National Park
There is never a shortage of natural inspiration on this stretch of the California coast. Comprising five islands to the west of mainland Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands National Park is the perfect place for all types of adventure, from hiking the trails of Torrey Pines Forest on Santa Rosa to snorkeling among elkhorn and feather boa kelp underneath the Pacific waters. If you're on the lookout for local wildlife during your Santa Barbara cruise, join the Condor Express for a whale-watching adventure or hike the Romero Canyon Trailhead for a chance to catch a glimpse of the world's fastest flying bird, the peregrine falcon.
While the whole state of California is known for its beautiful beaches, the stretch along the Santa Barbara coast is particularly pristine. Head east from State Street, the main avenue for dining and shopping in the city, to easily access the clear blue waters of East Beach. If you're looking to reel in some fresh fish, head to Stearns Wharf, the oldest working pier in California. ExploreArroyo Burro Beach, Butterfly Beach in Montecito and Leadbetter Beach for surging, boogie boarding and paddle boarding adventures.
As a world-class foodie destination, Santa Barbara will exceed your expectations in the food and wine category. Take a sip of full-bodied Californian Cabernet and Pinot Noir at each of the two-dozen stops along the Urban Wine Trail of downtown Santa Barbara, or head to State Street to taste the fresh delicacies of the Californian coast. Cruise to Santa Barbara to visit The Lark for half-shelled oysters and grilled Spanish octopus straight from the sea. Take a trip to La Super-Rica Taqueria, a location discovered by Julia Child herself, for their much-lauded corn tamales and tacos with handmade tortillas.
With the Santa Ynez mountains providing a stunning backdrop, State Street offers all the shopping you could ever hope for during your vacation. From linen clothing to Mexican chocolate, you can find anything along the bustling street. For souvenirs and keepsakes, head to Paseo Nuevo, one of Santa Barbara's open-air malls.
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