Even a short stay in this community of more than 92,000 is enough to dazzle the weariest of travelers — and many find themselves coming back again and again. Many more who could choose to live anywhere else in the world end up calling the area home long-term.
But what makes this spectacular enclave such a draw? What is it about this city perched above the Pacific Ocean that captures the imagination of homebuyers from across the country and the world?
Let's find out with these seven reasons why people who have the luxury to live anywhere in the world continue to choose Santa Barbara.
For the outdoor types — and trust us, to live in Santa Barbara is to love the outdoors — the city is a perfect jumping-off point for natural excursions. Whether it’s hiking, biking, spending time on the beach, or exploring nature, you're never too far from an outdoor pursuit.
Commitment to Education
Top-rated schools are everywhere, including Cold Springs Elementary, a top 20 public school in California. Other notable institutions include Santa Barbara High School, Montecito Union Elementary, Dos Pueblos Senior High School in neighboring Goleta, and private schools Garden Street Academy and Providence.
Santa Barbara's other highly rated institutions cover all grade levels and all educational needs. Public, private, or charter, it doesn't matter — the commitment to education is a priority, and every child is allowed to grow and excel. The city is also home to UC-Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College, the top-ranked community college in California.
Culture and Community
Santa Barbara is also a notable destination for festivals and community-sponsored events. And because there’s something planned practically every month of the year, you’ll always have an opportunity to experience the best of the close-knit community.
Several of the area's top annual events include the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the International Orchid Show, the Jewish Festival, the French Festival, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, the California Wine Festival, July Fourth fireworks, and a holiday parade and a parade of lights on the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Quality of the Outdoor Lifestyle
The first thing you'll notice is the weather. The word that comes to mind is perfect — and that perfection lasts all year. Like its European counterpart, the American Rivera features a Mediterranean climate — the winters are warm, the summers are cool, and the temperature remains moderate all year long. The average yearly high sits right at 70 degrees. The average annual low is a crisp, comfortable 55 degrees. Sunshine is abundant and rains much less so.
There's only one thing to do in this kind of weather — head outdoors. From hiking the foothills and backcountry of the Santa Ynez Mountains to exploring the trails that meander closer to the Pacific to trekking in the majestic terrain of the Channel Islands, there’s variety, challenges, and stunning scenery with every step you take.
We can’t forget Santa Barbara's most outstanding outdoor feature: its beaches. There's surfing. There's paddleboarding. There are picnics and volleyball and beachcombing. And there's the simple pursuit of relaxing and sunbathing underneath the gorgeous Santa Barbara sky.
We haven't even mentioned the city's parks, which total 1,808 acres across 60 individual green spaces.
Shopping and Dining
But before you do, how about a little retail therapy? Many of the region's best retail destinations take advantage of the beautiful climate. The open-air Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants is luxury shopping at its finest. The wonderfully unique Funk Zone specializes in boutique shops, galleries, and cafes. La Arcada features locally-owned stores wrapped in eye-popping old-world architecture.
Much like everything else in Santa Barbara, the restaurant, bar, and entertainment scene is nothing short of stellar. Whatever your taste buds desire, you can find it here.
Farm-to-table fare is everywhere, including the vaunted Santa Barbara Farmers Market. There's a deep roster of luxury-laden establishments specializing in Italian, Mexican, and Asian-influenced plates. If you're looking to entertain a family and sample some of the area's best local flavors, seafood and oceanfront dining offers a win-win scenario.
Love wine? You'll find it here, and some of the best bottles are locally sourced. Love beer? More than a few microbreweries will address that craving.
A Thriving Theater Scene
The nearly century-old Arlington Theatre plays host to diverse programming, including plays and musicals, dance performances, comedy productions, touring musical acts, and first-run films (it serves as one of the hosts to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival).
The Granada Theatre is home to the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, and the State Street Ballet. The Lobero Theatre and The New Vic anchor the city's historic theatre district. And on the UC-Santa Barbara campus, The Riviera Theatre is the home of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It supports many cinema-related programs throughout the year.
The Best of All Worlds
Why compromise when a mere 90-minute drive away you can have all three in the enclave of Santa Barbara?
Our final reason why people choose Santa Barbara is quite simple. When it comes to living a luxury lifestyle, it’s the best of all worlds — a seaside mountain lifestyle and what is considered by some the country's most amazing collection of real estate.
Each area of the city boasts unique homes and envy-inducing views. In Downtown Santa Barbara, you'll discover classic Spanish architecture and convenient walkability to the city's best shopping, dining, and nightlife. Closer to the coast, well-appointed bungalows and contemporary townhomes offer a high-end, low-maintenance lifestyle.
Rivera features Spanish mansions and sweeping views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Downtown Santa Barbara. With their acreage and uninterrupted views of the Pacific, there's a lot to love in Campinil, Eucalyptus Hills, and Hope Ranch.
These are seven reasons why people choose Santa Barbara, but in truth, there's so much more. It’s a destination that must indeed be seen to be believed. And if you can dream it, we're confident you can find and live it out here on the American Riviera.
Ready to explore the best of Santa Barbara real estate? Contact Kendrick Guehr, Santa Barbara's #1 real estate team, to start your home selling journey.