SantaBarbara5California Dreamin’ claims my soul in new ways now that I’ve strolled Santa Barbara.

Hummed the Mamas and Papas song in the ‘60s, of course, but after four days in this city of red tile roofs, whitewashed walls, soaring mountains and Pacific beaches, I’m dreamin’ new dreams too.

Santa Barbara is so pretty that walking is alluring, plus shuttles and buses run to beaches, shopping promenades, the 1786 Mission, active today, the Museum of Art and the Botanic Garden.

Twenty minutes to the Garden on the winding Santa Ynez Mountains, visible all over town, running east to west, funneling fog and cool ocean air to the vineyards.

SantaBarbara4Congenial is normal for Santa Barbara.  I headed to a rooftop party on the Canary Hotel on Carrillo Street in downtown, officially designated one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World.

Glorious views of red tile roofs, mountains, treetops and parks, only a few tall buildings.

Don’t block the view

Santa Barbara has regulations to prevent buildings from blocking the views.  How refreshing is that?

Wine tastings happen often on this roof. And around town. I followed the Urban Wine Trail, on foot, starting before lunch!

SantaBarbara3Two tastings are close to East Beach with the oldest, longest working pier on the west coast, Stearns Wharf  – exhibits about giant kelp in this sub-marine forest, and the Ty Warner Sea Center with child-friendly exhibits of sea life and the nearby Channel Islands.

The islands are a national marine sanctuary and national park, with 145 species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

Glorious places to sit along this trail and around Santa Barbara.  Special seats, like the big tile chair in the County Courthouse stairway, also tiled.

Spanish Moorish this National Historic Landmark building, a rich mix of towers, arches, color, murals, grillwork, balconies and gardens.

Seasons endless

Eating local in Santa Barbara doesn’t mean seasonal limitations.  This growing season is all year.

SantaBarbara1This is a small city, population 95,000, with 500 restaurants. Six performing arts centers too.  

I opted for a long stellar dinner at Olio e Limone Ristorante: luscious eggplant soufflé with a goat cheese center, duck ravioli, halibut, pannacotta; Drew Barrymore walked by my window.

Perfect vacation place, this southernmost city in Northern California, also Southern California’s northernmost town.