January 7, 2010

The American Riviera: Santa Barbara

Editor's Note: Remember, "Disney's Animal Kingdom: A True-Life Adventure (Part Five)" arrives tomorrow!

Few Californians would argue that Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful of the state's coastline towns. And for good reason!

From the Mission (top photo) to the courthouse tower (above and the second one below), the city remains an enchanting mix of old world Mediterranean styles with up-to-date California flair.

Our recent trip was the first visit to the city in about a decade. We'd driven through during a family reunion a few years back, but this trip, we had a chance to stop in, spend the night and enjoy the pleasures of the place.

As the family's renowned Disney geek, it was a given I would spend a day at the Disneyland Resort enjoying both Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney. As a beach lover, a stop to this town fit in perfectly following my previous daytime excursion to the beaches of Newport, Laguna, Dana Point and Capistrano.

Santa Barbara touts itself as the American Riviera- a claim that holds up! The cafes, fine restaurants, and beautiful pedestrian areas create an environment similar to the resorts of southern France and the northwest towns in Italy. I'm not the greatest photographer, but what you see hasn't been touched up a bit- and it is still beautiful.

My wife graduated from nearby UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara. Of course, she was a student with little time or money to play, but we have certainly tried to make up for that with each visit!
(Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

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