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I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

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Philadelphia, PA
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I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

I've been in SD for a year and love it. I know LA people love SB to get away from the hustle and bustle but if I regularly frequent my cute north county beaches (e.g. Del Mar, Encinitas), is SB worth the trip to see or will it be more of the same. My wife and I are in our mid twenties, no kids. Thanks!

Manhattan Beach...
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1. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Yes, we are one of the LA people who love to get away to SB for a few days each year. But we also go to Laguna, Big Bear and SD for get away's too. They are all a bit different.

Santa Barbara is really special to us. The city is smaller and offers a relaxing atmosphere. Of course we love the long sandy beaches, the climate and mission style architecture. The SB Mission is also my favorite mission to visit, in a beautiful area of the city.

We love finding secret places, driving out to the wine country, Santa Ynez valley, nice restaurants and Sterns Wharf.

If you've lived in CA for a year, you should take a trip up to SB.

Berkeley, Ca.
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2. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

I'd concur with CAnative, Santa Barbara is a special small city, more than just a beach town. There's a good little art museum, and a natural history museum. There's good, if sometimes pricy, food. You could go up for an overnight or a weekend.

Manhattan Beach...
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3. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Food can be pricey, but you can also go to the end of Stern's Wharf to the SB Shellfish Co. and have a seafood meal for $10-$20 in a casual setting.

santabarbara.com/virtual_tour/stearns_wharf/

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

If you are only interested in the quality of the beaches, I am not sure I would drive all that way.

If you are interested in the history of California, that is another subject.

santa barbara
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5. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Hi Obespalov,

I think you might enjoy visiting SB. I think it's interesting to explore as much of So Cal as possible when you live here. I know I really enjoy San Diego and much of Los Angeles.

Something that might be fun for you is to take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from SD to SB. You really don't need a car in SB. Ask about special hotel discounts if you decide to take the Amtrak. The Amtrak station is only a couple of blocks from the West beach area where many of the hotels are located. There is a shuttle that you can ride just about anywhere in town for 25 cents. If you stay in the beach area, which I recommend, there are many hotels with a wide variety of price ranges. Let us know your price range and we can make recommendations. At West beach you are close to the pier where you can catch the special sightseer trolley and visit almost all of the most popular and scenic sites in a 1 1/2 hr time frame with a narrated history of the area. A great way to get a really good overview of the city in a relatively short time. You will feel like you know SB when you finish the tour.

There are many excellent restaurants in SB with a wide variety of price ranges plus shopping, clubs, museums, art galleries, rental bikes and kayaks, day trips on boats all at your fingertips if you are in the West beach area.

Come explore and have fun, I think you would enjoy yourselves!

Los Angeles
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6. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Do you like to travel?

On a recent thread somewhere on TA, a couple of people mentioned that they do not like to travel (but are still giving helpful advice about the place where they live).

San Diego is a very different city than Santa Barbara. I am happy to visit it about once every 5 years, whereas I wish I could spend more time in Santa Barbara. It is small enough to have a real "small town" downtown feel, despite its overall urban nature. San Diego is huge. Santa Barbara's actual downtown contains buildings that date back to the Spanish conquest. Both cities have missions, but I've never seen San Diego's (I'm sure it's there somewhere). San Diego is criss-crossed by freeways and highways, Santa Barbara finally got a freeway through itself within the past 10-15 years. It doesn't go fast through Santa Barbara, there's always a slow down. The vast majority of Santa Barbarans live within a couple of miles of downtown. They walk to it to shop. Santa Barbara has virtually no jail of any size, it hasn't needed one, it contracts with Ventura County and uses Santa Maria for its most famous legal proceedings - although the courthouse is itself an architectural gem.

There are people still living in Santa Barbara whose roots date back to the days before California was a state, and they are still prominent in city politics. San Diego is a huge urban area that's lost that same sense of small town history.

San Diego has about 2.9 million people in its city. Santa Barbara has 90,000. San Diego County has about 3 million people (so virtually everyone in the County lives in the City), while Santa Barbara County is a large area and the entire county has only 400,000.

Santa Barbara County has vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, butterfly sanctuary, small harbor, mansions and estates, country clubs, movie stars, avocados and citrus, wide sandy beaches, surfing - all in one cultural area. It also has a great little art museum (nothing like San Diego's Balboa Park, though), and it has its own attitude.

If you like to travel for the reason that you like seeing different places, of course you'll want to see Santa Barbara.

Lower State Street is filled with cheap restaurants (and actually, you can find inexpensive food where ever you happen to be in SB - it's a student-oriented town). The Natural History Museum is the home of California's oldest human fossil (not on display) and is a great place to learn about Native Americans who were not so early and completely missionized as those in San Diego and Los Angeles. The air is usually clean, it is called the California Riviera because of its steep hills facing the ocean, it has lovely city parks, and much more. Live music on the weekends (and Sundays) is distributed up and down State Street, and many musicians call SB home. The Santa Barbara Bowl is on the A circuit for entertainment, and since SB is so tourist-friendly, people who are looking to see a major act make reservations to go to SB (which does have its own airport, though pricey) rather than have to deal with LA traffic.

Santa Barbara is a great town for couples. It's romantic, there are great sporting goods stores, lots of outdoor activities, restaurants at every price point, shopping, and of course, the beach. Santa Barbara is more artsy than San Diego, even its "slummy" areas are art-oriented (for example, Milpas Street, which runs through the "poor" part of SB still has lots of art, sculpture and a lively set of *good* restaurants, within close walking distance.

Yet, it's still California.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Have you been to Laguna Beach? That's closer, and you'll love it.

Santa Barbara is worth the trip, and you can roam into the Santa Ynez Valley, take a winery tour, really kick back. October is especially nice and peaceful up there.

Idyllwild and Ojai are two other places to consider for a getaway some weekend, but they are not beach cities.

Santa Monica...
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8. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Of course it's worth it!! Absolutely venture out and explore Southern California. Each town and city has it's own personality and vibe. Santa Barbara is very different than San Diego - very. For one thing, it's more upscale (in a different way than La Jolla) -and the old old old trees all around are beautiful.

Philadelphia, PA
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9. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Thanks everybody! I'm sold, I'll come out and visit in a few weeks!

Edited: 25 August 2010, 14:59
Santa Barbara, CA
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for Santa Barbara, Channel Islands National Park
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10. Re: I live in San Diego, is it worth seeing Santa Barbara?

Yes - just like San Diego is worth it! I love visiting your city.