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California's Central Coast

 

Spyglass Point, your private oceanfront vacation rental, sits at the most Southern point of California's Central Coast.

The southern part of California’s Central Coast, often affectionately nicknamed the “American Riviera,” is known for its Mediterranean climate, beaches, Spanish mission architecture, scenic drives, wineries and bed & breakfasts.

Carpinteria is in the southernmost part of the Central Coast region, and at the southeastern end of Santa Barbara County. It sits between breathtaking Los Padres Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Its beaches, known as “The World's Safest,” are unusually gently sloped with soft waves. Carpinteria State Beach is a great place for surf fishing, swimming and exploring tide pools of sea urchins, anemones and octopuses. Seals, sea lions and gray whales are most easily spotted along the coast between December and May. Many local-owned small businesses, shops and restaurants can be found around town and especially along Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road. The California Avocado Festival is held annually in the first week of October, drawing some 80,000 visitors to Carpinteria.

Six miles to the northwest of Carpinteria is the classic California beach town of Summerland. Along the main thoroughfare Lillie Avenue are charming cafes, inns, wine bars and antique stores. Just up the road is scenic Montecito, a bastion of hillside palatial mansions overlooking oak woodlands and the Montecito Country Club. Oprah Winfrey calls Montecito home, and historically, so did the Rockefellers, Carnegies and DuPonts. Surrounding Montecito are natural hot springs that can be reached by road and hiking trail.

Five miles to the west of Montecito, Santa Barbara is the jewel of the region, centered around the Mission Santa Barbara, built in 1786. Of the 21 original Spanish missions built in California, Mission Santa Barbara is known as the Queen of the Missions. The colorfully painted church holds Mass services and continues to house Franciscan friars. Beautiful Spanish Mission Revival style buildings adorn the surrounding area. Tourists are attracted to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, with ornate tile and intricate ceiling paintings, and at the top of the stairs, a 360 view of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara's State Street offers world-class hotels, shopping and delicious dining. Great flavors can be blamed on the geography: fresh-caught fish from the nearby harbor nicely compliment wines and fresh produce from inland vineyards and farms. Local bakeries, bistros, breweries, seafood and vegan restaurants are some of the many options along the State Street corridor, which ends at the beautiful Stearns Wharf. The beach is the star attraction of Santa Barbara, great for renting a bike, skating, skateboarding or taking a romantic stroll.

Eight miles northwest of Santa Barbara, Goleta is a bedroom community and home to the University of California, Santa Barbara, a public research university highly rated in many subjects including engineering, sciences, theater and dance. Students in wetsuits on bicycles frequent the beachside community of Isla Vista. The active university population cultivates an energetic atmosphere of outdoor recreation, music festivals, bike races, surfing and swimming. Several surrounding state beaches and national forests showcase panoramic views, while enchanting Coronado Butterfly Preserve offers a sublime nature hike experience.

23 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, cupped by the Santa Ynez Mountains, Lake Cachuma is a popular oasis for camping, RVs, fishing, hiking, lake cruises, kayaking and canoeing. Nature tours are available for spotting turkeys, bald eagles, ospreys, herons and turtles. “Cachuma” derives from the language of the indigenous Chumash people, Southern California's earliest residents, of whom only a few thousand remain. On the way to Lake Cachuma, Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park offers vibrant pictographs from the Chumash people. Eight miles further up state highway 154, the Santa Ynez Indian Reservation operates a beautiful casino, hotel and spa resort.

Continuing four miles west of Santa Ynez, Solvang is a popular tourist destination and a missing piece of Denmark hidden in the mountains. Colorful houses and windmills in traditional Danish architecture contain shops, restaurants and bakeries, a replica of the Little Mermaid statue and the bust of Hans Christian Anderson.