Just northeast of Los Angeles is a town that nearly all Californians would agree is paradise, even when compared to the multiple well-known cities of the state: Santa Barbara. Its downtown consists of white buildings with red tile roofs, a Spanish-derivative style that references lasting ties to the Spanish Franciscans who founded this paradise in the late eighteenth century. Even just a few days in Santa Barbara can show you why this old city is a treasure to California.
The Santa Barbara Mission, one of the twenty-one California Missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans two cen-turies ago, is celebrated for its renowned architecture and affluent history. Perhaps the most significant historical attraction in the city, the Mission spans 13 acres and has an active church, a historic cemetery, a museum, and an expansive garden. For a small fee, you can choose from six different tours based on your time available and your desire to see certain parts of the property.
Another popular site in the downtown area is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which sits just a mile and a half southeast of the Santa Barbara Mission. With its elegant architecture, memorable artwork, and refreshing sunken gardens, this beautiful Spanish Colonial building is more than an operating courthouse—it’s also a popular spot for weddings and other gatherings. Even if you don’t have a specific event to attend there, the courthouse is open to the public every day at no cost. From the bell tower of the courthouse, you have a stunning view of Santa Barbara’s red rooftops that stretch toward the ocean.
From the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a simple walk amid charming boutiques, ice cream shops, and lively restaurants will take you to the water. At the shore, you can take a walk in the sand, turn towards the harbor to see the numerous boats, or eat dinner as the setting sun illuminates the water. In addition, paddle boards and kayaks are available to rent if you want to take a closer look at the seals that congregate on the buoys.
The Spanish Colonial architecture blended with the lively atmosphere of Santa Barbara is perfect for any person wanting to feel like a refreshed, yet productive, traveler. Just a weekend is enough for you to feel at home—walking on the beach, touring historic buildings, and seeing what all the little white buildings in-between have to offer. Never were red-tile roofs so inviting.