Santa Barbara


Helpful facts about living in and around Santa Barbara


Location: Santa Barbara is located on the South Central Coast of California, facing the Pacific Ocean, some 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles and 330 miles south of San Francisco. The city lies in a moderate coastal valley, surrounded by green foothills and rolling surf. The elevation ranges from sea level to 850 feet within the city limits. The city occupies 23 square miles in the county, including the Channel Islands, of 2,774 square miles.

Access: Three airlines affiliated with major scheduled air carriers (American Eagle-American Airlines, United Express-United Airlines, and SkyWest-Delta Airlines) connect Santa Barbara with other cities where connections can be made to cities worldwide. Bus service is available with Greyhound Bus Lines that provide Santa Barbara with Daily arrivals and departures. There are also north and southbound trains that stop in Santa Barbara each day.

Climate: Temperatures for the Santa Barbara Area range from a low of 56 to a high of 82 during the summer months (April-September), and a low of 47 to a high of 66 in the winter months (October-March). The average annual rainfall is 18 inches, and the air quality is generally good.

History: The Santa Barbara area was discovered and claimed for Spain in 1542 by Juan Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain. In 1602 Sebastian Vizcaino anchored offshore on December 4-the feast day of Saint Barbara (patroness of mariners). The ship’s priest named both channel and mainland area Santa Barbara in her honor. In April 1782 Padre Juniper Serra established the Presidio Real of Santa Barbara in a grand ceremony, and four years later construction of Mission Santa Barbara began. It was the tenth of 21 Franciscan missions built in upper California. Soon Yankee traders, tourists and health seekers, followed by wealthy Easterners settled in Santa Barbara because of the mild winters. The mixture of newcomers and Spanish descendants has shaped the area for what it has become today.

Accommodations: Santa Barbara boasts over 90 motels and hotels, plus numerous bed and breakfast inns, all of which provide over 4,500 rooms from the modest to the mos6t luxurious for both business travelers and tourists.

Churches: Almost every faith and denomination is represented in the over 140 churches in the area.

Restaurants: There are some 400 restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, and snack bars, many with sidewalk cabaret tables, with menus that range from fast food, to exotic dishes, or to elegant dining.

Economy: Santa Barbara’s employment force is mainly in service-related companies. The economy is based on electronics and space age research, light manufacturing, educational facilities, tourist and convention services. Additional contributors to the economic stability of the area are commercial fishing, agriculture, government and finance, commercially produced minerals such as petroleum, natural gas, sand and gravel, and wholesale and retail enterprises. The financial community consists of 11 banks with 36 offices, and 8 savings and loan associations with 17 offices. The two major shopping malls, the El Paseo Nuevo in downtown, and the La Cumbre Plaza at State Street and La Cumbre attract regional shoppers to their major department stores, specialty shops, and restaurants.

Culture: The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is one of five privately maintained museums. There are displays of works from many private collections, and the public library has a wing of paintings and related art.  There are a number of private galleries with unique selections of works for sale. The Contemporary Arts Forum is located centrally in El Paseo Nuevo Mall. The Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra provide entertainment throughout the year, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra schedules a concert series here annually. There are local theater groups, as well as, groups from local educational institutions which perform the year round. In addition to the local productions, road companies of various Broadway productions schedule performances at out local facilities. The Santa Barbara Choral Society performs at may local functions at various times throughout the year.

Recreation: Recreation plays a very important part in the life of Santa Barbara, for resident and visitor alike.  There are both private and public golf courses for all from the ‘weekend duffer’ to the scratch golfer. The 34 municipal parks, many with picnic equipment and children’s playgrounds, and some with facilities for volley ball, softball, swimming, lawn bowling, and tennis (some with lights for night play) are gathering places for locals and visitors alike. There is both salt water and fresh water fishing within a short distance of Santa Barbara. Some other recreational activities in the surrounding areas include hot air ballooning, bicycling, hang gliding, hiking, horseback riding, polo, roller-skating, scuba diving, off-highway vehicle driving, and whale watching.

Schools & Libraries: The Santa Barbara public schools rank among the best in the state. The public schools programs include elementary, middle/junior high, senior high, special education, and continuation curriculum.  Santa Barbara is also the home of Santa Barbara City College, Westmont College, and the University of California, as well as Brooks Institute School of Photography and the Music Academy of the West. The public library system consists of six branches and a bookmobile. The system contains over 300,000 books, 6000 records, numeroussubscriptions to periodicals, thousands of pamphlets, and over 4,000 videos.

Transportation: The Metropolitan Transit District provides bus service to and from various points in Santa Barbara daily. Fares are 75 cents for the general public and 30 cents for senior citizens (over 62). The District also has electric bus service on State Street from the beach to the central downtown area for 25 cents. Taxi service is also available for areas not serviced by regular bus routes.

Farmer’s Markets: Local vendors convene to sell flowers & produce in the traditional open-air setting of the historic California days. Usually, these markets are brimming with people, musicians and beautiful flowers.