By Lauren Kmec
Santa Barbara
California
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Located on an east-west–trending section of California coast between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is a very popular resort destination known for its pristine beaches and regal mountains. But this city has various faces: Education has a heavy presence in Santa Barbara—there are five institutions of higher learning in the area. Additionally, Santa Barbara is home to a distinguished international film festival that routinely draws Academy Award–winning actors.

EscapeWizard.com invites you to visit sunny Santa Barbara for your next vacation. Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), a public airport that handles an average of 2100 passengers daily, is conveniently situated just 8 miles northwest of the city’s downtown area. Take advantage of our competitive rates and book your flight today with EscapeWizard.com (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php). Let EscapeWizard.com also help you to find the perfect accommodations to suit your every need; follow this link (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=ht) to browse our hotel options.

To start your trip, EscapeWizard.com recommends visiting the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse and Gardens. Designed in the Spanish-Moorish style and completed in 1929, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is arguably the most beautiful government building in America. The courthouse is surrounded by expertly manicured lawns and gardens, including the especially impressive Sunken Gardens. Visitors can take an elevator ride to the top of the 85-foot-high “El Mirador” clock tower for striking views of the cityscape. Free tours of the building and grounds are offered twice daily.

Another worthy destination is the Santa Barbara Mission and Rose Garden, founded in 1786 as the 10th of 21 Franciscan missions in California and still a functioning church today. EscapeWizard.com encourages you to tour the mission, marvel at the stunning architecture, and relax in the delightful rose garden.

If you’re looking to have fun with the whole family, EscapeWizard.com thinks the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens is the place to be. Founded in 1963 by a group of determined community volunteers, this facility is widely regarded as one America’s greatest zoos. The Santa Barbara zoo is home to some 160 species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects. Some highlights include Amur leopards, the penguin house, the elephant walk, and the giant anteater exhibit.

EscapeWizard.com strongly suggests a visit to Stearns Wharf, the oldest operating wharf in California, dating back to 1872. The wharf’s entrance is marked by the majestic three-dolphin fountain, designed by Bud Bottoms. Here, visitors can sample local wines, dine on the water while taking in the gorgeous sea views, or explore the Ty Warner Sea Center, a dynamic educational facility that boasts a live shark touch tank.
   
The many museums of Santa Barbara are well worth your time; EscapeWizard.com will highlight a few of our favorites here: The Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum is an excellent place to learn more about this city’s unique past through the permanent exhibits and an on-site historical library. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum serves to honor the nautical heritage of California’s coastal cities via a series of rotating exhibits and a top-quality HD multimedia theater. Finally, Santa Barbara’s Museum of Art has a stunning collection of 27,000 works spanning more than 5000 years. The museum contains a vast number of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and more, although the French Impressionist pieces are especially significant.

For outdoors enthusiasts, EscapeWizard.com recommends an excursion to Cachuma Lake in the Santa Ynez Valley. Go boating or fishing on the lake or take a hike into the wilderness. We highly recommend the 2-hour-long nature cruises led by trained park naturalists. These pontoon boat outings offer superb wildlife viewing. Camping options are numerous: choose from cabins, yurts, or a traditional camping area.

Culture seekers will no doubt enjoy a show at the Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara’s main performing arts venue. Offerings include opera, dance, comedy, and live music, as well as many events associated with the annual film festival.

All in all, Santa Barbara is a fantastic choice for a vacation, whether your goal is relaxation or adventure. So book your trip with EscapeWizard.com and let your ideal getaway begin!
Hotels in Santa Barbara
By Sara Falardeau
Courtyard Santa Barbara Goleta
401 Storke Road, Goleta, California
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Among the many hotels dotting the Highway 101 corridor, the Courtyard Santa Barbara Goleta stands out as one of the newer options for lodging in the area. No dingy bathrooms or crumbling plaster here! Located only 4 miles from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) and just 3 miles from University of California Santa Barbara, the hotel is ideal for parents or prospective students visiting the school. It’s also convenient to the major vineyards of Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez wine country, as well as the area’s biggest attraction, the Santa Barbara Mission.

Check-in is at 3 p.m. Choose from a room with a spacious king-sized bed or two queen beds, all fitted with luxurious pillow-top bedding. Need room for a group? Upgrade to a suite, which includes your choice of 1 king or 2 queen beds as well as a sleeper sofa. Each room holds a refrigerator or mini-fridge, a desk with an ergonomic chair, and an ironing board and iron to make your room feel a little more like home. Free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV with HBO, ESPN and CNN complete the creature comforts.

An array of amenities makes it simple to keep your routine while on the road. Fitness is available via an exercise room, outdoor pool and whirlpool, but if you prefer fresh-air adventures, there are two swimming beaches and several golf courses within a few miles of the hotel. For meals, The Bistro on-site restaurant offers quick and reasonably-priced breakfasts and dinners daily, as well as Starbucks beverages and evening cocktails. When you check out at 12:00 p.m. you won’t pay any parking fees “ and if you didn’t drive to the hotel, a complimentary shuttle will take you to and from the airport.

The Courtyard Santa Barbara Goleta is a great choice for travelers looking for clean and comfortable rooms, simple and thoughtful amenities, and easy access to nearby attractions of all kinds. Make another good choice when you book your room with EscapeWizard.com today (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htll).