What IS The American Riviera?

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Santa Barbara is known as “The American Riviera, a comparison to the French and Italian Riviera areas, sharing the same dramatic mountains, sparkling seas, lush gardens, white-washed buildings, red tile roofs and abundant sunshine of these Mediterranean counterparts.

Webster could run out of adjectives trying to describe Santa Barbara. Sexy, playful, alluring, romantic, gorgeous, easygoing, relaxed, sophisticated, cultured, friendly, peaceful, re-energizing, invigorating and dramatic are just a few wholly appropriate descriptors that come to mind. Oh yeah, and addictive – just ask anyone who’s been here.

Day-trippers want to spend the night. First-time visitors vow to return. Tourists dream of relocating their lives here. Long-time residents stay forever. Some Angelenos even leave a boat moored in the harbor, to keep a toe in local waters, so to speak. No one ever wants to say goodbye.

Located just 90 miles from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is a world apart, a soothing realm of distinct and subtle pleasures, and an intoxicating appeal that arises from the convergence of elements found perhaps nowhere else in the world. A city of white-washed buildings with red tile roofs tucked between the mountains and the sea, Santa Barbara resonates with an irresistibly sensuous allure. Casual and friendly, it also offers an extensive menu of sophisticated cultural attractions ranging from theater and dance to music and visual arts, reflecting a cultural richness out of proportion to the city’s small size.

The sun shines 300 days a year here, making Santa Barbara a mecca for every kind of outdoor pursuit. It is a place where the land yields organic fruits and vegetables, and where these exquisite ingredients fuel an idiosyncratic cuisine accompanied by superb Santa Barbara County wines – world-class vintages from the nation’s fastest-growing viticultural region. It is a place where a soothing hybrid architecture reflects Spanish, Moorish, Portuguese and American Indian roots, and where wrought iron adornments, exquisite tile work, cool fountains and shady paseos beckon to our collective need for comfort, solace and beautiful human-scale design. It is a place where the wild nature of Channel Islands National Park is visible from the manicured gardens of grand Montecito estates. It is contrast and complement, human art and natural art, the simple and the sophisticated, the old world and the new.

It is The American Riviera.

(Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Photo Credit: Chris Foley

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