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Santa Barbara and the Central Coast Travel Guide

  • Photo: Thomas Barrat / Shutterstock

Plan Your Santa Barbara and the Central Coast Vacation

Balmy weather, glorious beaches, crystal clear air, and serene landscapes have lured people to the Central Coast since prehistoric times. Today it’s also known for its farm-fresh bounty, from grapes vintners craft into world-class wines to strawberries and other produce chefs incorporate into distinctive cuisine. The scenic variety along the Pacific coast is equally impressive—you'll see

everything from dramatic cliffs and grass-tufted bluffs to wildlife estuaries and miles of dunes. It's an ideal place to relax, slow down, and appreciate the sheer abundance of beauty.

Offshore, a pristine national park and a vast marine sanctuary protect the wild, wonderful underwater resources of this incredible corner of the planet. But not all of the Central Coast's top attractions are natural: Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo are filled with sparkling examples of Spanish-Mediterranean architecture, bustling shopping districts, and first-rate restaurants showcasing regional foods and wines.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Incredible nature Much of the Central Coast looks as wild and wonderful as it did centuries ago. The area is home to Channel Islands National Park, two national marine sanctuaries, state parks and beaches, and the vast and rugged Los Padres National Forest.
  2. Edible bounty Land and sea provide enough fresh regional foods to satisfy even the most sophisticated foodies—grapes, strawberries, seafood, olive oil... the list goes on and on. Get your fill at countless farmers' markets, wineries, and restaurants.
  3. Outdoor activities Kick back and revel in the casual California lifestyle. Surf, golf, kayak, hike, play tennis—or just hang out and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
  4. Small-town charm, big-city culture Small, friendly, uncrowded towns offer amazing cultural amenities. With all the art and history museums, theater, music, and festivals, you might start thinking you're in L.A. or San Francisco.

When To Go

When to Go

The Central Coast climate is mild year-round. If you like to swim in warmer (if still nippy) ocean waters, July and August are the best months...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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