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Santa Barbara in California.

 

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Santa Barbara is a city in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city is sometimes referred to as the "American Riviera."

Culture

Performing arts

Santa Barbara contains numerous performing art venues, including the 2,000 seat Arlington Theatre, the largest indoor performance venue in Santa Barbara; the Lobero Theatre, a historic building and favorite venue for small concerts; the Granada Theater, the tallest building downtown, originally built by contractor C.B. Urton in 1924, but with the theatre remodeled and reopened in March 2008; and the Santa Barbara Bowl, a 4,562 seat amphitheatre used for outdoor concerts, nestled in a picturesque canyon northwest of Santa Barbara at the base of the Riviera.

The city is considered a haven for classical music lovers with a symphony orchestra and many non-profit classical music groups (such as CAMA). The Music Academy of the West, located in Montecito, hosts an annual music festival in the summer, drawing renowned students and professionals.

Tourist attractions

Santa Barbara is a year-round tourist destination renowned for its fair weather, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. Tourism brings more than one billion dollars per year into the local economy, including $80 million in tax revenue. In addition to the city's cultural assets, several iconic destinations lie within the city's limits. Mission Santa Barbara, "The Queen of the Missions," is located on a rise about two miles (3 km) inland from the harbor, and is maintained as an active place of worship, sightseeing stop, and national historic landmark. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish structure, provides a sweeping view of the downtown area from its open air tower. The Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish military installation built in 1782, was central to the town's early development and remains an icon of the city's colonial roots.

Also famous is the annual Fiesta (originally called "Old Spanish Days"), which is celebrated every year in August. The Fiesta is hosted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the Native Sons of the Golden West in a joint committee called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was originally started as a tourist attraction, like the Rose Bowl, to draw business into the town in the 1920s.

Flower Girls and Las Señoritas are another attraction of Fiesta, as they march and participate in both Fiesta Pequeña (the kickoff of Fiesta) and the various parades. Flower Girls is for girls under 13. They throw roses and other flowers into the crowds. Las Señoritas are their older escorts. Many Señoritas join the Native Daughters at the age of 16.

For over 40 years the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show has been held on Cabrillo Blvd., east of Stearns Wharf and along the beach, attracting thousands of people to see artwork made by artists and crafts people that live in Santa Barbara county. By the rules of the show, all the works displayed must have been made by the artists and craftspeople themselves, who must sell their own goods. The show started in the early 1960s, and now has over 200 booths varying in size and style on any Sunday of the year. The show is also held on some Saturdays that are national holidays, but not during inclement weather.

In recent years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, another local non-profit, has also become a major draw bringing over 50,000 attendees during what is usually Santa Barbara's slow season in late January. SBIFF hosts a wide variety of celebrities, premieres, panels and movies from around the world and runs for 10 days.

The annual Summer Solstice Parade draws up to 100,000 people. It is a colorful themed parade put on by local residents, and follows a route along State Street for approximately one mile, ending at Alameda Park. Its main rule is that no written messages or banners with words are allowed. Floats and costumes vary from the whimsical to the outrageous; parties and street events take place throughout the weekend of the parade, which is invariably the first weekend after the solstice.

Surfing is as much a part of Santa Barbara culture as Art. Three time world champion Tom Curren, 10 time world champion Kelly Slater, and other popular surf icons such as Jack Johnson call Santa Barbara home. Local surfers are known for going north to The Point, or south to Rincon.

Other tourist-centered attractions include:

Stearns Wharf – Adjacent to Santa Barbara Harbor, features shops, several restaurants, and the newly rebuilt Ty Warner Sea Center.
Rafael Gonzalez House – Adobe residence of the alcaldé of Santa Barbara in the 1820s, and a National Historic Landmark.
Santa Barbara's Moreton Bay Fig Tree – a giant Moreton Bay Fig, 80 feet (24 m) tall, which has one of the largest total shaded areas of any tree in North America
Burton Mound – on Mason Street at Burton Circle, this mound is thought to be the Chumash village of Syujton, recorded by Juan Cabrillo in 1542, and again by Fr. Crespí and Portolá in 1769. (California Historical Landmark No. 306)
De La Guerra Plaza (Casa de la Guerra) – Site of the first City Hall, and still the center of the city's administration. (California Historical Landmark No. 307) Also the location of the Santa Barbara News Press.
Covarrubias Adobe – Built in 1817; adjacent to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Santa Barbara Street. (California Historical Landmark No. 308)
Hastings Adobe – Built in 1854, partially from material recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Winfield Scott. (California Historical Landmark No. 559)
Hill-Carrillo Adobe – Built in 1825 by Daniel A. Hill for his wife Rafaela L. Ortega y Olivera; currently at 11 E. Carrillo St.
Cold Spring Tavern
El Paseo Shopping Mall – California's first shopping center.
Santa Barbara Zoo

Restaurants

With its abundance of seafood, awareness of farming methods, and nearby wineries, Santa Barbara has many restaurants. In 2010, the SantaBarbara.com Restaurant Guide listed 693 separate restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries in the region.

Museums

Many artists make Santa Barbara their home, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is home to a significant permanent collection. Other art venues include the University Art Museum on the UC Santa Barbara Campus, various private galleries, and a wide variety of art and photography shows. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located immediately behind the Santa Barbara Mission in a complex of Mission-style buildings set in a park-like campus. The Museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, located on the top floor of Paseo Nuevo shopping mall, provides an arena for the presentation, documentation, and support of a broad variety of visual, media, and performing arts representing a wide range of attitudes. It offers free admission. The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is located on De La Guerra Street and offers free admission. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way (the former Naval Reserve Center Santa Barbara) on the waterfront. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum (free admission) houses a collection of historical documents and manuscripts. Two open air museums here are Lotusland and Casa del Herrero, exemplifying the American Country Place era in Santa Barbara.

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